Head definitely spinning now [Spooks 9.1-9.5 spoilers!]

Same disclaimers as in the past. My caps.

All of the “previously on Spooks” scenes were from the John / Maya story line, which led me to expect that we’d learn a lot this week. Not so. But it kept me on edge for the entire episode, waiting. Manipulation, much? Of course, since the plot of this episode otherwise seemed unanchored from the rest of what was going on, it’s not clear what else they could have put at the beginning.

The episode:

“me + richard armitage” is resolutely, intentionally not about politics, and it’s going to be hard for me to talk about what was an extremely political piece — despite the attempt of the scriptwriters to make it into a piece about the relationship of the Cohens, pรจre et fille — in much detail using the analytical method that I usually prefer (narrative analysis). I generally don’t care for the way in which the Israel-Palestine conflict is drawn on TV and this episode, while more subtle in some regards than many contributions on the theme that I’ve seen, is no exception; I’m also less than thrilled about the role President Obama plays (sight unseen) in the plot as “Lighthouse.” [Summary, if you’re curious: Servetus is tired of being asked by scriptwriters to see the conflict as a tragedy without causes; the players, as crazed, or alternately, as actors without choices who suffer at the hands of forces beyond their control and events set in motion in a land before time; and the U.S. president, whether Democrat or Republican, as — alternately — the Messiah or Satan to the subaltern and not so subaltern peoples of the world.] So I’ve got a lot less to say than usual this time, which is just as well since I’ve got a bunch more papers to grade before my lecture tomorrow.

The tragic inability of the Israelis and Palestinians to solve their problems unaided must be keeping entire careers at MI-5 alive, not least when the spooks have to deal not only with the conflict itself, but with locals like Michael Sands who’ve been altered by it; Ros’s picking off of the MI-6 sponsored assassin during the special negotiations in 7.6 is one of my favorite Spooks moments ever. Entendu? This episode doesn’t even come close, although the plot twist where the supposed assassin turns out to be the would-be assassin of the real assassin was clever. The identity theme (do you know your daughter, or is she just another person you betrayed? Do you know the person you’re guarding, or is she just another suicide bomber? Do you really even know yourself, if you don’t have a secure social role or someone else telling you what to do?) was subordinated to the plot, and I found it more superficial and less intriguing than it has been in previous episodes of series 9. These questions pile up, of course, on the way to the final question of the episode, which is whether Lucas knows who Maya is.

Beth (Sophia Myles) uses fancy footwork to make an amazing escape in Spooks 9.5.

We’re back to a “bomb of the week” piece, it seems, though it’s almost a relief after all of the *headdesk*ing regarding Lucas / John in 9.4. Or it would be, if the plot were even vaguely enthralling. Not this week. This episode seems unusually coincidence-driven, with Lucas discovering evidence about the occupant of the hostel room due to some dirt or sawdust he chances to see on the floor, Beth just happening to be standing there while Baltasar Jad is fiddling suspiciously with the security cameras, and a hydraulic jack just happening to be within reach of her feet during her captivity. There’s also the highly obvious and artificial plot impetus of Levi Cohen’s “black flag” threat in accelerating the last twenty minutes of the segment.

After escaping from Baltasar Jad, Beth (Sophia Myles) demands and gets the use of a cell phone from a suspicious lurker, in Spooks 9.5.

The three moments I did like: first, Beth’s rather amazing resourcefulness in getting herself out of the workshop where she was tied to a waterpipe and her down-to-earth demand for the cell phone from the lurking teenagers: “Just give me the bloody phone!” The scriptwriters are going to make me like her yet, and this also makes one suspect that the character will be ongoing into future seasons. (Whether Servetus will be ongoing into future seasons of Spooks remains to be seen.) Second, the sequences that show Baltasar Jad’s preparation for his sniper attack on “Lighthouse.” There’s something about the contemplative way that this is shown that always draws me in (it was the same with the Teiresias sleeper in 7.8; I like those sequences, as well). And finally, the teamwork the spooks use to figure out how a sniper could hit a person on the hotel entry stairs from a mile and half a way. It was cool how they pooled their knowledge to figure out it out. If it’s plausible that a sniper could do something like that (I have no idea), it’s really scary.

Since there’s been no discussion of reference at all to the pressing questions on everyone’s mind (the Chinese and their relationship to Lucas, the fate of Albany, John and Maya), the script has to get very heavy-handed toward the end. Harry preaches a little sermon on identity to Lucas. Then Dmitri tells Lucas he thought he knew who Anna Cohen was, which in light of the final scene reads like rather oxy foreshadowing. Lucas, having saved the world, or at least England, for democracy, or at least for the continued prosecution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, shrugs enigmatically at Dmitri’s question about whether he plans to get drunk that night, and then telephones, presumably Maya. Our beloved master navigator of the human expressional palette gets three separate faces in here:

And then, of course, at the very end they throw us a bone regarding the question of John and Maya, except, of course, it’s not clear what the bone is going to be. Vaughn is now “Michael,” Maya’s boyfriend. John seems taken aback, though not intensely (see below — the script again doesn’t give Mr. Armitage many expressive options), by discovering Vaughn / Michael in Maya’s house; Maya seems uncomfortable (we assume, because she’s between two lovers — but is she also playing a double role here?); and only Vaughn seems to be in control of the situation. Dunh-dunh.

The character previously known as Vaughn (Iain Glen) introduces himself as Michael, Maya’s boyfriend, in Spooks 9.5. That’s now two characters who have to be referred to with slashes. Next week: Maya shows up on the Grid as a biochemical weapons specialist and introduces herself as Charlotte. Week after next, we learn that Maya / Charlotte is Chinese, has had eyelid surgery, and is taking skin pigmentation pills. In the final episode, in a thoroughly postmodern twist, all three of them eschew actual names in favor of symbols that have no pronunciation.

Well, at least we as viewers get some relief from our suspense with the information that everything is not as it seemed to be last week, even though it looks like Lucas could still be Vaughn’s dupe — another curious parallel to the Cohen / Hattri storyline in this episode. In other words, we have hope that we don’t understand what’s going on, but not much that Lucas isn’t being scripted as an idiot yet again.

No, no idea what’s going on. Please remember in your comments NO SPOILERS for episodes that haven’t aired yet. SERVETUS HAS NOT SEEN “SCENES FROM NEXT WEEK,” EITHER. She always turns the player off at that point. Thanks for your cooperation.

Mr. Armitage’s performance:

I asked last time who we’d see Armitage playing next: John or Lucas? The answer at the beginning of the episode is clearly Lucas: he’s back on his game, sharp, analytical, tough, caring about his colleagues. (Though why is he so short with Tariq and so concerned, in comparison, about Beth? Are they trying to set up a mood of tension so that Tariq will want to track down what Lucas did with the framing of Owen and the MI-5 mainframe?)

The script puts Lucas in control and has him thinking clearly rather than constantly jumping to conclusions, and Armitage takes on an impressively commanding tone.

Lucas North (Richard Armitage) diverts all Section D resources to finding Muatt Huttri in Spooks 9.5.

He achieves an intriguing quality to Lucas’s voice in anger in this episode, a timbre that we’ve only heard once before as far as I know, in 8.4, when Lucas yells at Sarah for breaking into his flat. Not sure exactly how to describe it; it’s a combination of anger and desperation but it’s up toward the top of his pitch register, and has a very round sound. For example, two moments where we hear it in 8.4:

and here, in 9.5:

In terms of the physical aspects of Mr. Armitage’s performance, we continue to see — and enjoy — the more active, flexible Porter-influenced Lucas:

… climbing into a window at 16 Ashton Gardens …

… in pursuit of a terrorist …

… turning on a dime in the chase …

… jumping up on the building ledge toward Jad, whom he’s just shot.

The first opportunity the episode gives Mr. Armitage to move away from the typical Lucas characterization comes in the obligatory scene where they evaluate the operation. Armitage is in his new comfort zone as action man all the way through; it’s only at the end that we get a reminder that bigger things are stirring under Lucas’s efficient exterior. Informed by Lucas that Anna Cohen appeared to have planned the terrorist plot all alone, and that no one had any idea of “what she’d become,” Harry quotes from Sรธren Kierkegaard, Sickness Unto Death, about how easy it is to lose one’s identity. (This choice seemed really implausible to me. Classic poems, ok, or even obscure ones; Harry’s gone to public school, his wife was a literature teacher, maybe he reads a few favorites before dozing off to sleep in the evenings. But I only know a dozen people who’ve read Kierkegaard at all, none who’ve memorized him, and all of them have an undergrad degree in philosophy or a Ph.D. This heavy-handed insertion of a quotation feels like the scriptwriters took Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations or whatever the UK equivalent is off the shelf and paged through till they got to “identity.”)

Then we see what Lucas thinks about Harry’s reaction. This is a really interesting few seconds in his performance, I think, as he ducks his head slightly to the right, appearing to be thinking about the problem of identity loss, inserts the typical Armitage flattening of the face in preparation for changing expressions or shaking off moods, says “I’ve never read it,” and then moves immediately into a very direct, very challenging stare.

Below, Lucas North (Richard Armitage) responds to Harry’s musings about the potential ease of loss of identity by stating that he’s never read Sickness Unto Death, in Spooks 9.5. First, we see the response to Harry’s citation of Kierkegaard …… then Lucas is by turns contemplative ……sad or avoidant (?)… (this is the “shake off” move)…

…raising the head, apparently resolute …

… whereupon he gives us that defensive smile intended to convey regretfulness (sorry he looks so goofy, couldn’t get the frame to pause the way I wanted for the cap) …

… before becoming really challenging. All of a sudden. Is this the defiant stare of the liar (and, one presumes, he’s lying about more than not having read Sickness Unto Death)? This really kind of frappierend, as we would say in German: he seems to be sad and then polite in acknowledging ignorance and then this stare just comes out of nowhere. Watch it for yourself.

We don’t get to see Lucas’s reaction to Harry’s praise at the end of that scene; the camera blurs his face. Too little, too late?

The last point where we have to examine Mr. Armitage’s performance, indeed probably the decisive scene for our response to him tonight, is of course the kicker scene of the episode, the one we’ve been waiting for: John discovers Vaughn in Maya’s house, masquerading as Michael. I suspect that the people who think Armitage’s performances wooden are going to have a field day with the scene, but here’s another place where Armitage is really restricted in his expressional choices by the script, if he wishes to keep the audience guessing as to what is really happening in the plot of series 9.

To wit: IF John is real and Lucas is the legend, THEN John should be stunned and upset to find Vaughn / Michael in Maya’s flat, as he’s just ransomed his relationship with her by betraying MI-5. HOWEVER, if in this scenario, John shows his amazement, he’ll potentially give away his secret — the one that led to fifteen years of life spent without her — to Maya, and lose her. So Armitage can’t let John show any significant surprise in this scene if he wants the viewer to believe John is real and Lucas was a cover — the storyline as it appears on the surface. On the other hand, IF Lucas is real and John is the legend, if Lucas’s decision to give Vaughn the Albany file was not just a response to blackmail, but an attempt to steer the course of the interaction and gain the upper hand for some as-yet-unknown-to-us purpose, then showing any surprise gives away Lucas’s hand to Vaughn. So Armitage can’t let Lucas can’t show any surprise in this scene, either, if he wants to keep viewers open to the possibility that the story is not as it seems and Lucas isn’t a total idiot being duped by Vaughn. Not letting much out is a way of keeping further plot developments plausible.

In sum: Mr. Armitage can’t let Lucas / John show much of anything here. How to deal with this?

This is what we see:

He enters the scene as John, in clear delight (though of course, if he already believes before the scene that Maya is in on some kind of deception, it’s also fake delight):

Then Maya tells him that “Michael” is there, and he says, “Shit,” and says he’ll come back. Still John.

And then we hear Vaughn’s voice from off screen, saying “who is it?” and we see this sequence of responses:

Reaction to the voice …… turn of head; Armitage trademark blinking which is not about whatever emotion he’s feeling, but is Armitage-speak for his attempt to suppress the emotion. Here, at the very latest, John is gone and Lucas is back …… a testing glance in the direction of the voice; the asymmetry of his eyes is especially effective here in conveying a second of apparent dislocation …… a direction of his head more toward Vaughn, who is still behind the camera …… an intermediate glance: evaluative or surprised or uncertain? any might be possible …Arriving at recognition.

Then we’ve got the handshake to negotiate:

Armitage moves Lucas from recognition …

…to that slight Lucas-like scorn that sometimes relates to hurt but sometimes doesn’t…

…to, one thinks, the battle being joined with the attainment of the handshake.

Then the camera shifts to Lucas’s reaction and we’ve got basically five slightly different expressions until the flash shot that ends the episode:

Under control: evaluating Vaughn;

Eyes to Maya, evaluating her reaction cautiously;

Turn of head toward Maya, still in evaluation;

Back to Vaughn; fatigue and wariness;Closing shot; lips slightly narrowed; readiness for what’s about to happen?

To conclude: we can note that Armitage navigates this scene by giving almost nothing away. Perhaps a tiny bit of surprise, perhaps not; certainly a look toward Maya but of evaluation rather than surprise or anger, and finally, something that’s significant in terms of how Armitage moves Lucas’s face: what we don’t see — that look of nausea or sickness that we see when he’s really distressed about something. John / Lucas is never really distressed in this scene, not just in terms of “hands to face,” but more significantly, in terms of that other key sign of Lucas’s nervousness, the Adam’s apple bob and the noticeable swallow. So if I am going to argue for what I want to believe, emotionally, that John is the legend, I have to go mostly on what we don’t see here, both in terms of what Armitage is showing us and in terms of the repertoire we know from our wider experience of Lucas. It’s subtle, I think, but mostly effective, depending, of course, on what this scene is supposed to accomplish.

More specifically: thinking that Armitage does a good job in a difficult situation is not the same in my eyes as justifying this bizarre script. That is, it seems to me that the script and the plot have to account for plausibility of potential plot twists on their own account, without relying on the actor to provide a sufficiently ambiguous performance to accomplish that. Assuming that art is supposed to imitate life, and that Spooks is not a much more postmodern narrative than it usually manages to be, it cannot be the actor’s job to keep anyone of three or four different potential conclusions to the series plausible in the minds of the viewer solely via his acting — people react in situations as they actually react based on their knowledge at the time, not based on the awareness that in the future their knowledge might change and that they thus have to keep their reactions open to consistency with those hypothetical futures. People live in time as they experience it, not in potential time — and this script directly violates that basic rule of verisimilitude in a way that would make it extremely difficult for any actor to know how to respond.

Given all these problems, I’ll be watching with my eyes glued to the screen to see how Mr. Armitage acts his way out of this one. I mean, my eyes would be glued to the screen anyway. But he’s got a real conundrum here. No wonder he was throwing scripts at the walls of his trailer.

Clothing Armitage:

Not a lot of new stuff to note today.

However: I really love these boots, which I think are on the actual Mr. Armitage:

But I like these shoes, too, which are smaller, and have laces, and I think must have been on his stuntman:

Random — From the Sublime to the Ridiculous:

On the state of his cosmetic dentistry, look at these beautiful molars. No cavities, mom!

A stupid intertextual location moment:

Why isn’t Lucas a little more careful here?

Given that he already learned in 7.3 that danger comes from above in this particular setting:

Lucas North (Richard Armitage) experiences a sudden flashback to his experience of torture in Russia in Spooks 7.3. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery

Problematic grammatical situation:

Muchas gracias por tu ayuda,” Beth (Sophia Myles) tells Francisco Gutierrez / Baltasar Jad in Spooks 9.5, successfully negotiating the por vs. para dilemma so troublesome to non-native speakers learning Spanish, but addressing a total stranger in the second person singular familiar. I guess it’s her revolutionary past that causes her to tutear … And yes. You’d be justified in asking me WHY I CARE ABOUT THIS ANYMORE. There’s going to be some linguistic mess-up every week. Luckily I don’t know any Chinese, so wasn’t cast into despair while watching 9.4.

Favorite quip:

Home Secretary (Simon Russell Beale): “Just checking out the new Home Office app. [pause] Well, it’s worth a download,” in Spooks 9.5.

And finally, since I saved all that space on narrative analysis of the plot, I’ve got room for another gratuitous thumb shot:

Lucas (Richard Armitage) is bound up with a belt by Muatt Huttri in Spooks 9.5. Knuckles looking a little swollen here.

Butchering Milton: They also raise viewer numbers who only stare at the screen and wait. Impatiently.

~ by Servetus on October 19, 2010.

45 Responses to “Head definitely spinning now [Spooks 9.1-9.5 spoilers!]”

  1. Just a short comment on the American president. We are not meant to automatically assume that this is Obama. The first series of Spooks were firmly set in reality and had bit from the new showing real politicians but the later series are set in a kind of parallel universe that bears a lot of resemblance to the real world but is not exactly the same.

    As to the last scene, I think you right, it is deliberately played in a way that we have no idea where Lucas and Maya stand. That she knows Vaughn as Michael indicates that she is oblivious of the Vaughn character and is just used as a pawn by him, but then this could be part of the bluff, to convince Lucas that she is an innocent victim. As to Lucas it is hard to tell if he is surprised to find a connection between Maya and Vaughn and how surprised he is. On the surface it looks as if he had no idea, but you are right to ask if he is surprised enough.


    • I think the point was not so much about it being Obama as it was about the President always being portrayed as Savior or Satan. Tired.
      Where you addressed the tree, I feel inclined to take off the bark. I was bored through most of this show, and I’m not sure “the bone” at the end has me salivating that much for next week. But I’m in this far, so I’ll probably see it to the end. However, I’m going to stick with my previous comment about Lucas, which is that I hope he gets it in this Series. LOL! (ducks)


      • Indeed (tired of this portrayal of US presidents), but for me “Lighthouse” is clearly Obama. A President more sympathetic to the Palestinians than any in recent years? Check. The Israeli envoy practically salivating at the advent of the king? Check. A too friendly UK government? Check.

        I thought that my snide tone through the first half of the review might have conveyed my displeasure with the episode ๐Ÿ™‚ but if not I’ll just state that I agree that it was a boring episode.

        I remain interested in the resolution of the Lucas / John problem, but mostly because I do feel a lot of affection for Lucas. I assume his end is nigh, but I will be sad to see him go ๐Ÿ™‚


        • If you thought the episode was boring probably depends on your point of view. If you watch Spooks for Spooks and not for Lucas/RA it was a good old school Spooks episode, not the best, but good. I thought it was less complicated the previous episodes, easier to follow, I could even turn away for a moment without loosing the plot. I personally like old school Spooks (actually many episodes of series 9 make me say “this is old school Spooks”) and will probably stick with the show if/when RA leaves because I like the other characters as well or even more because they are more easily accessible and “human”. With Lucas I want to know what this is about, but I’m not really attached to the character.


          • I’m capable of watching Spooks for things other than Armitage (I’m halfway through season 3 now, for example, and unless something changes I’m committed to watching all the way up to S7), but I really don’t care to see any more TV drama about the Israelis and the Palestinians unless it’s treated in some interesting or exciting way. I think that was what pushed the “boring” button here for me. I feel like what I’ve seen of it on Spooks is lazy and uncreative and wornout. Conversely, I’d like to see more plots dealing with China and South Asia and Africa. (You’ll note I was complaining a lot less energetically about those episodes …) ๐Ÿ™‚


          • I was actually a Spooks fan long before I even knew Richard Armitage existed. For me the later Spooks episodes have never been as good as the beginning, and obviously, that’s coming from an RA fan. There have been some bright spots, but nothing to equal the energy of the first shows. However, I loved Series 7 as it gave me some hope for something fresh. Sadly, the potential was squandered in Series 8 with Ros being pretty much the only bright spot. Since then the shows are definitely old style Spooks but not as well done this time around. Again, this is an RA fan talking.
            And this morning I find myself not really caring about the Lucas/John, Vaughn/Michael, Maya/? triangle. But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe my expectations are now so low that I can be pleasantly surprised.
            Net: the most rattling thing about last night’s show was when the terrorist cut his leg. Obviously, these are just my opinions, and thankfully, the show doesn’t live or die on my meager opinions.


            • absolutely agree about the terrorist and the knife (uch, and in the dl that I got for some reason there was a blip that showed me that scene twice!), though I wondered if a cut in that region wouldn’t hit the femoral artery …

              that was really, really disturbing. But here we are again onto Servetus’s frustrations with depictions of parties to the conflict. I keep saying I don’t want to talk about politics, and I don’t, so I’ll leave it to your imagination what I might have thought …


          • I thought the same Jane, that it was an interesting Spooks episode, and I enjoyed the break from Lucas/John, Vaughn, and Maya. I actually enjoyed it. I’ve been watching Spooks, or MI5 for us here in the US, since Tom Quinn days (I miss Tom Quinn)and A&E. But, I confess, I am attached to Lucas more than I was to Adam.


            • Some time ago I saw the old series on TV again and in direct comparison to the new series, after having seen all of Spooks, I found them boring. It was mostly about showing how spying works, how to create a legend to go undercover, how to befriend an asset and win their trust…I liked it when I saw it first and thought it was very interesting and necessary to understand something that is different from the usual murder mysteries. However they couldn’t go on like that forever.


              • Huh. I think my favorite episode so far of everything I’ve seen is 3.3 (the EERIE exercise), but in looking at the wikipedia list of episodes, there are many among the ones I’ve seen that I find more exciting plotwise than S7 and 8, even as the character issues take precedence.

                I think I’m in a weird position as a viewer, though, insofar as my priorities are neither Armitage nor Spooks as separate issues, really. What interests me about Spooks is its moral economy (how it winds plot around big human and ethical questions), and I think it almost totally abandoned that in S8. I saw more of it in 9.2-4, but to me, though this episode tried, it just didn’t get there. Different strokes, I guess.


    • I guess we’ll just have to hang on. Only three more weeks. I think I can sustain this that long. I look forward to hearing more about your reaction to this plot line, Jane.


  2. Great post Servetus, I was hoping you would post this morning. I liked this episode because I enjoyed seeing Lucas back to being the hero of the day, to being a good leader and a commanding presence. He does make mistakes, as do the others, but that’s a tool Spooks writers always use to move the plot and put the agents in danger – so they have to escape – or not. Sort of the “perils of Pauline” for our heroes. Just some random thoughts about the episode. I did for a minute fear this would be the end of Lucas, a surprise death in mid episode at the hand of the terrorist, and was quite relieved when Lucas turned up very much alive and in control. (No explanation of how he escaped from the leather belt around his throat). I was disturbed by his treatment of Tariq, compared to his caring boss persona with both Beth and Dimitri. Yes, I think there must be a reason we’ll find out later about this, or so I hope. I think his relationship with Ruth is interesting, I note an edge to her interactions with Lucas in this episode. The inevitable meeting at the end of Harry and Lucas was interesting. Not only the range of reactions from Lucas as Harry quotes Kierkegaard on identity, but the slight show of hostility towards Harry. I thought Lucas had resolved that feeling after Connie confesses she outed Lucas in Russia, but it seems to me now Lucas still blames and resents Harry for being in prison for 8 years. Also, I do have to say that RA looked absolutely gorgeous in this episode. Every time he was on camera I thought he just couldn’t possibly look more handsome than he did in that scene, and then he was even lovelier in the next shot! I do think with his clothing change John/Lucas is clearly channeling his inner cowboy whenever he changes to the softer John! Still looking wonderful, but I prefer the Lucas look. I also agree that when he recognizes Vaughn/Michael’s voice at the end and then shakes his hand, that in his face and expression he’s clearly no longer John, but definitely Lucas. So who is the real identity! We are intended to assume John is the “real”one, but yes, is it Lucas? I confess what did surprise me at the end is that Vaughn’s stroke was totally fake-so why did he show himself first as being handicapped by a stroke? Have John’s sympathy? Yet, Lucas seemed only slightly surprised at the physical difference of Michael from Vaughn? Oh my, I have a headache – LOL


    • I never believed that Connie was the one to betray Lucas; I felt like she knew what really happened and took the blame on herself as she knew she was going to die anyway.

      Agree that Mr. Armitage looks great whether as John or Lucas. I like Lucas’s style more, but John’s color choices better.


      • I never believed it was Connie either, but I thought maybe Lucas did. Why she seemed to be protecting Harry, that’s another question?


        • yeah, that’s the big problem with doubting her statement. Why would she care enough to protect harry?


        • I have thought she could be protecting Harry too but could it have been mercy? Lucas told her in his speech about loyalty to MI5 what he had suffered, her words alluding to his nightmares sounded to me as she told him that to take him ‘out of his misery’ or am I just too naive?

          OML ๐Ÿ™‚


          • I think this is as reasonable an interpretation as any we have. Connie wasn’t just an evil snake, and there was a lot in 7.8 that pointed to Lucas’s ongoing misery about not understanding what had happened to him. She might indeed have wanted to make it easier for him to deal with processing his past.


  3. @Servetus,

    I chuckled at the Kierkegaard reference. My thought was all right, all ready, we get it. It’s about identity, uh mistaken identity, uh Lucas/John mistaken identity — eventually. Check.
    Corny, but if anyone can pull off corny and make it sound plausible, it’s Peter Firth.


    • Yeah, Firth was fine. It was just such a stupid choice. Maybe they were trying to signal that Harry can’t ever say anything profound unless he’s just consulted his commonplace book. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • I didn’t thought it was heavy handed. In a different context perhaps, but this was a reminder for the audience that still something is going on with Lucas even if this was a “filler” episode. I liked that they haven’t completely forgotten that theme.


      • I think you’re making a valiant argument here, Jane, ๐Ÿ™‚ to two people who are perhaps jaded on this issue and uninclined to agree. We still love you, though! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

        I agree that they had to find a way to divert our attention back to the continuing plot line.


  4. I guess I’m just not intellectual enough to be intrigued by what’s going on. It must be over my head. What else to explain my boredom. I know I sound like a snot saying that, but I really was bored. There was an almost continual urge to pause the video and go start a load of laundry or somethin’. LOL!


    • ๐Ÿ™‚

      It’s true that “we intellectuals” are trained to occupy ourselves on a passionate level with things that are less than exciting. Otherwise we couldn’t grade all of the papers that seem to stream across our desks in regular intervals. I admit that grading was on my mind last night, so that played a role in how interested in this episode I could become, but the stuff I graded after I went home was not any more interesting than this tv show — sadly. Sometimes the stuff I grade is really fascinating.


      • How fascinating to see the world through the eyes of some of your students especially if they don’t just regurgitate someone else’s thoughts. I keep telling the little SOs that they just need to think! and articulate that, and they’ll do well. If nothing else, their teachers won’t be bored. LOL!


        • Yeah, they are interesting people, and they’re the future — not me! So I remain interested in what they think even when they express themselves (cough) less than adeptly.

          Mondays I teach an undergrad research seminar (course is designed to teach them how to design and conduct a high level research project using primary sources and write up the results) about a specific question that I have an opinion on. We read relevant sources in class, and for the first half, we discuss the source at hand, and in the second half, we brainstorm about what it tells us about the question. Yesterday (after six weeks!) one of the students finally asked me what I thought the answer to the question was! I said I had an opinion but if I told them it would either influence them to agree (if they were nicer people than I am) or drive them straight into rebellion (if they were like me). One student asked, “if we change your mind, do we get an A?” I said, “yes, I change my mind all the time based on things students say. You can get A for accomplishing a lot less than that, but that would definitely be an A.” Everyone laughed.

          Sorry to go on. But I do occasionally have moments when I just love them.


  5. I love the kid who asked the questions! and there is nothing so refreshing as being around someone who really thinks! I don’t do it nearly enough. LOL! In fact, I’ve had to discipline myself not to be lazy because I did not want the little SOs being lazy too. Thankfully, they are better people than me. They question the dog out of everything and somehow they haven’t been disrespectful with it — yet.
    What I really love is that God encourages us to ask questions. One of the supreme deceptions IMO is that people have this notion of God that doesn’t allow questions or discovery. Such garbage. Okay, I think this comment trumps any comments (implied or otherwise) about politics. LOL!


  6. I think I’ve done enough damage to my rep today, so I’ll bow out for now. LOL! Plus, I’m on my way somewhere, which seems to be a common occurrence these days. Picture me with my tongue hanging out. Although I’m soothed by the fact my laptop doesn’t weigh much and goes just about everywhere I go. ๐Ÿ˜€


  7. I know no spoilers but the trailers for next week were pretty fab. I didn’t hate this episode as much as the rest of the commenters. Even my hubs was intrigue and he came in on the last 20 mins or show. Enought time to give me crap for my interest and to point out that we have a total double standard working here because if he followed an actress I would be livid. So true. I am a heartless b****.

    Honestly, when he’s off the show I am done watching it, I enjoy it but I am watching for RA. The boots in the second photo, I love those, I think I have seen him wear those exact boots in an interview. They look familar.

    @RA Frenzy — I am with you I don’t get people who don’t ask questions and feel the exact same way about God and faith. For what it’s worth.


    • I think that when he’s done, I’ll possibly or least potentially still watch it, but I won’t be downloading it illegally or buying the DVDs — will wait for netflix –, and I won’t be avoiding spoilers like crazy in order to preserve my interpretive sanctity.

      Part of the thing for me is that Armitagemania has tied me to television in a way that I have virtually never been before. I watched plenty of tv as a child and a teenager, but when I went to college I more or less left that behind, as I became too busy. There are a few minor exceptions — I became addicted to ER for two years where I lived in a location where there was only NBC in the analog range, and one year I spent in Germany where I had a TV I watched a lot of it just because I felt it was culturally valuable — but mostly I just don’t watch tv. I find books (and some films) and the worlds they create in my mind much more interesting. So the question for me would not be “is Spooks good enough without Armitage to justify continuing to watch Spooks?” but more “is Spooks good enough without Armitage to justify continuing to watch tv?” Insofar as Armitagemania has opened up tv watching for me as a legitimate activity, I’ve got a whole list of tv series I’ve heard were great but have never seen that I can now watch on netflix (something else I did because of Armitagemania) and that stuff will probably come first.


      • I will probably continue to watch Spooks for Spooks after RA has left but I want RA to leave rather sooner than later nonetheless. I love analysing his shows but it just becomes frustrating with with Spooks, perhaps because his storyline is badly written, perhaps because the clever twist that explains it all will only be revealed in the last episode.


        • I really resonate with this comment, Jane. I want to engage with this stuff interpretively, but when the storyline keeps changing, it’s impossible to come to any conclusions from a stable point of view, and makes the whole activity extremely frustrating. If there is any real argument for wanting him to do “high art,” it would be this — that it tends to offer the interpreter more stable ground for interpretations.

          Three more episodes …


  8. Yup. Bored with the Russians. Bored with the Middle East. (No, not in real life – just simplistic TV stereotypes). Let’s hear it for the Chinese, for a change. Or blood diamonds – oh, was that done in SB? Coming to my TV next month….

    I really, really like Spooks/MI5. Richard Armitage is icing. Chocolate. Much more interesting than the blond male model – sorry, just my personal taste. But it’s been a super series even pre-Armitage. BUT, if the scriptors don’t resolve a few issues before blowing up Lucas (I fear it is imminent, servetus), then they will have lost this audience.


    • I agree that his death looks imminent, and I haven’t even seen the scenes from next week :). If Lucas survives, I’ll keep watching, of course, and I support whatever professional choices Armitage makes, but I don’t see how this character can get out of this situation without dying. I wish it were different. But it’s ok. We’ve had more than enough evidence last season (and in 9.4 and 9.5) of why Mr. Armitage would have every right to want to move on to other creative endeavours.


  9. I enjoyed the latest episode because it showed Lucas in charge and there was very little Ruth and Harry moonimg which I do not get buth that is just me.

    I absolutely love RA’s posture when he is in Section Chief mode he so incontrol of all his movements and they are confident and asured. AS for the anger at Tariq I loved it. He is usually in control amd that out of nowhere like the crack of a whip comes this explosion of temper and as quickly as it erupts then he is back in control.

    As for the Lucas/John story well I have no idea where they are going.


    • I’m faithfully watching back episodes to try to get up to speed on Harry & Ruth, but as I’ve only just seen 3.6 I fear the answer to my questions is still some ways away.


  10. Yes, servetus, the scriptors seem to have dug themselves into a hole. I didn’t mind Adam’s end, because, while he was likeable, and probably a better actor than I give him credit (but I did find him ho-hum in 39 Steps and Persuasion, but that might be just me), I hated Ros’s demise. (And felt that Adam’s was dramtically very good. It worked). And when Lucas “buys the farm” – is that the phrase?), it will be Gisborne all over….

    Interesting, actually. N&S was about as perfect a mini-series as could be. Beginning, middle, ending. Marvellous strong characters (actors even better than in the book). But I’m still stuck back on Gisborne. (And I’m sure Mr. A would like us to just move on, already!!) The character just keeps being challenging, to analyse, in the characterisation of the actor. There’s always something else…


    • buying the farm=yes. The derivation of that expression is really sad, I think.

      One thing I’ve been thinking in light of this week’s news is that we’re going to have a fair amount of time without anything new to watch, so it will offer the chance for more extended analyses of older performances. Mr. Armitage be d**ned, I’m not ready to move on yet and the fact that other fans are not points to the power of those performances!


  11. […] by the way that the series 8 scripts treated Lucas North, and after a brief respite, Spooks 9.4 and 9.5 took Lucas North down a rather alarming path from which viewers who do not consume spoilers […]


  12. […] particular mood and timbre of the character’s “anger / desperation” voice, which I discussed in regard to its appearance in 9.5, if you need links to examples to listen to for purposes of comparison. Mr. Armitage spends a […]


  13. […] of course the real matter up for discussion, and the ongoing issue left over from last week, is how well Armitage is handling the Lucas / John transitions and how credible his reactions are given …. To recap that, I concluded that given the confusion that audience is to be kept in regarding the […]


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