What IS Harry’s favorite opera? [Spooks 9.1-9.6 spoilers!]

Same disclaimers as before. My caps. Also, just a gentle reminder that Servetus does not read spoilers, has not read the BBC synopses of the two remaining episodes, and does not watch “scenes from next week.” Please indulge me in this folly; it’s only two more weeks. Really, only one more week, since there’ll be no scenes from next week at the end of episode 8. Sob! I missed you for so long, Lucas North, and now you’re about to disappear again. This time, it seems, for good. Mr. Armitage, I hope your parents really enjoyed this episode because it seems likely that you and Spooks are over.

Of course, they (with reason) and I (with none at all) will still be proud of you. Yes, there’s that good news in the back of my mind still! As chuffed (cough) as I am about The Hobbit, though, I know that there’s no way that Mr. Armitage can do that and Spooks and Strike Back and The Rover in 2011 unless he’s even more of a workaholic than we realized, i.e., if he’s able to continue to work without ever sleeping and for some reason all of Spooks 10 is scripted at night and filmed in Africa or New Zealand. I assume that The Rover is now off the table and that Spooks is what’s gonna give, as the Sky announcements about Strike Back make it seem that he might be contractually obligated. I have to say if I knew he could do either Spooks or Strike Back and there were a fan poll to ask which, I am not sure what I’d pick at this point. That’s an improvement over the last two weeks, when I’d have voted for Strike Back.

I was prepared to dislike this episode intensely after the plot layout scenes at the beginning, but I ended it not only with tears in the corner of my eye, but one or two on my cheeks. Admittedly this was an otherwise emotional day for me, but as the plot lines about Lucas start to weave together, my eyes were tearing up for Lucas / John — both in sadness for the person who he appears to have become here, and in regret for the person who I thought he was, who he could have been. At least they seem now to be moving toward attempting to make him a tragic traitor and not an idiotic one, although this script puts us in a bind — if we’re happy that he’s a fool for love, we have to accept that he’s a fool and has been played from the very beginning and not realized it until it was much too late to do anything. In order to get a redeemed John we have to accept a stupid Lucas. This episode makes that tradeoff, which was foreshadowed earlier, now seem unavoidable. After 9.4 and the most implausible script I’ve yet seen on Spooks, I’d have said that I’d have cried no tears after this third permutation of Lucas North met his demise — he was too inconsistently written to be entirely believable, and the problems in plot were creating points at which I was questioning Mr. Armitage’s characterization and acting choices. But now, just because I’m so affected by the problem of John’s sentiments (love, desire, obsession?) for Maya, I’m once again in doubt. Maybe the script will pull the chestnuts out of the fire for me. Though I still hope that they kill Lucas in series 9 so I don’t have to spend an entire year wondering how he will die at the beginning of series 10.

***

The episode:

(Come on, kudos, you should be able to do better than this. Two typos in one graphic, three if you count the odd spelling of Danielle, which diverges from the BBC credits page? I spell it throughout with the conventional orthography.)

Plot recycling: This, I do not like. A British-programmed drone ends up hitting a U.S. base in “Helman” province and British and U.S. spooks have to haggle over how to deal with it? Sounds an awful lot like episode five of another show I watched earlier this year in which a British-programmed drone called in for air support to a U.S. troop position ends up firing on the U.S. position in Helmand province. Interesting that two provinces in Afghanistan should have such similar names. Oh, and once again we end up playing a long game of quis habet corpus with a smart-ass computer programmer who’s used primarily to ask questions that aid in the characterization of our hero and then conveniently but tragically gets shot to death just before the resolution of the plot. For good measure, there’s also a shootout where our hero ends up protecting a wounded woman behind a car and then running out of ammo. All these similarities could get really confusing, especially since Colin Salmon appears in that other show (though not in the relevant episode) and here seems to have switched allegiances from MI-6 to the CIA. I was just waiting for them to work Ewen Bremner in here, too, as the computer expert, though his appearances always worry me because I don’t understand most of what he says. Now, I like Salmon a lot (and he’s got a reasonably credible U.S. accent; I only noticed one really obtrusive dialect slip-up in this episode that drew his Americanness into question — for future reference, Mr. Salmon, Americans say “appreshiate,” not “appresiate”), and I am growing to have more and more respect for the British practice of using great actors even in minor roles, but come on. There were eight million human stories in the naked city, but apparently only two plots for all of Afghanistan?

Tariq (Shazad Latif) tells Ruth that the Grid’s been compromised in Spooks 9.6: “This is crazy advanced, almost invisible.” Totally the kind of language this sort of computer expert would be using. I wonder how Mr. Latif feels about his role on this show. This is an actor and character that could be used much more effectively and given more screen time. He’s also cute: Such beautiful eyes, such expressive lips.

That’s then followed up with Tariq’s accidental discovery that the Grid is bugged in such a thoroughgoing manner that nothing is safe any more: “they’ve got everything!” (This feels like series 8’s description of Nightingale: “a plan to change the world order as we know it.”) Then Ruth’s approach to Harry is so obvious –why would she interrupt a discussion about the cybershell project over some random relationship trash? — that you’d think the people watching them would realize what a huge signal that was or at least be suspicious. On top of the stuff I already didn’t like from 9.4 that headlined the episode, i.e., Lucas being willing to compromise an operation in order to pursue his quest to resurrect John’s past (more about this below, under Armitage’s performance), this was shaping up to be a disaster. I actually considered turning it off and going home to have a nap. OK, but Lucas does give in and go to see John at Battersea Park, and so finally the script gives us a few crumbs about Lucas / John, and this turned out to be a moving scene for me, at least — moving enough to keep me watching. And writing. For several hours.

We’re now about about twelve minutes in, and assuming we accept the major premise (the cyberattackers are going to be able to give themselves access to all of the intelligence data of the West! oh noes!!!) the plot starts to become more interesting. Lucas and Danielle have a few interesting exchanges, the spooks figure out a way to fake out the attackers enough to figure out who they are, and best of all, we get to see Malcolm again!

“Lucas!” Malcolm Wynn-Jones (Hugh Simon) exclaims in Spooks 9.6.

I love that I’m not sure whether Malcolm’s use of the name “John” to refer to Lucas was a dodge for his mother or a slip on his part. I wondered how Lucas knew about anything Harry was doing in 1979, when he would have been a child. I liked the device of Section D being able to hear the telephone calls between the cyberattackers masquerading as Harry as a means of advancing plot. And I loved the hoist on their own petard quality of the plot resolution, with the cyberattackers being tricked through a voice simulation to stay in position long enough that they could be captured. Though it’s not clear why these criminals seem to have re-inaugurated the Sino-Soviet pact. Finally we are put on notice that Ruth is on to Lucas, and then a stunning final scene, in which Lucas discovers that Malcolm’s home has been completely vacated. Did Malcolm call Ruth? Was something prearranged between Harry and Malcolm to happen if Lucas ever showed up to pick up the Albany package? Something’s up that Lucas, and therefore we, don’t understand.

Lucas North (Richard Armitage) discovers that Malcolm’s house has been emptied, in Spooks 9.6.

Still no clue as to what the Chinese could want with Lucas, whom they appeared to have targeted in the concluding scene of 9.4. Whatever happens in the last two episodes, if it manages to tie all the dangling strands together, it should at least have the merit of being interesting. Of course, I’ve been disastrously overoptimistic about the series 9 script before.

Mr. Armitage’s performance:

Though it was not as clearly foregrounded as in some other episodes of this series, we saw plenty of Action Armitage this week. He’s especially good at slinging Fiona Glascott’s body around, it seems:

But 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 the plot conundrums of the script, which he seems to be expected to bear on his own back. To recap that, I concluded that given the confusion that audience is to be kept in regarding the Lucas / John / Maya plot, when Vaughn manifests himself as Maya’s boyfriend, Michael, no matter what Armitage could not show much surprise — even though this hardly seemed credible from a common sense perspective. I also said that we didn’t see any of Lucas’s obvious distress signs in that scene, either. We still have to manage this problem in our analysis of Armitage’s performance, but there’s another issue, or rather an opposite issue, that creeps in as well. If it seemed before that there were clear divergences between Lucas and John, this week, we see the personalities converging again. This second issue ends up being what holds Armitage’s performance together, I think, and I didn’t spy it until the second careful watch-through. The episode can be read as what happens when someone’s holding two separate identities apart in his head is forced by events to confront that the identities are closer than he realizes.

But back to the beginning and the problem of how 9.5 ends. 9.6 opens with that apparently missing distress signal — Lucas or John having concluded, perhaps on the basis of his evaluative glance toward her at the end of 9.5, that Maya has no idea what’s going on. I hope that’s not fatal. We get this as his reaction to the revelation:

And now all of the expressional information missing earlier is there: the look of misery at 0:04, the very slightly pulled in lower lip, and in particular, the very slight, almost unnoticeable microexpressions at 0:06 coming somewhat unusually from the right corner of his mouth. Lucas is the legend, we should think; John is the real person. Even so, expressionally, this could all still be Lucas, down to the vigorous swallow at 0:07-0:08 and again at 0:13, along with the slightly lowered head. At around 0:16 we have Lucas accepting the phone call, and the first few times I looked at this clip I thought that in a way, Vaughn turns Lucas into John when he says his name, but that’s not quite right. At 0:17, despite the resigned tone of the statement, we still have the character trying to take control of the conversation — the surrender of the Lucas identity comes after 0:24, when Lucas tries to assert that he is on an operation and thus can’t function as John at the moment. The question then is how we read 0:32 to the end of the scene — this is way too emo for Lucas, so we have to conclude that it is John. It’s sort of the same question I was asking week before last about 0:16 and following here:

Week before last, this was on the cusp of too much for me, and when I saw this repeated, before I saw the end of the episode, I was ready to note that I was still feeling that way. In the context of understanding this gesture as rage, I get that given the control that Armitage has given Lucas, almost any sudden movement he makes in anger is going to look like a temper tantrum, but this kind of convulsion is certainly out of character for Lucas and seems to strain the boundaries of John — as I have said before. I suppose it would be fair to ask of me why I’m willing to accept an emo John when it comes to love, but not when it comes to anger. But that conclusion is reading from the beginning of the episode without having seen the end.

“You can’t blackmail someone whose life has no real value,” Vaughn (Iain Glenn) explains to Lucas North (Richard Armitage) in Spooks 9.6. “You have to have something to lose, and so I gave you something.”

In terms of the characterization that he’s been giving us for John and Lucas all along, I felt like Mr. Armitage was on firmer ground when we moved to that scene in Battersea Park, the script of which I liked so well. We find out, for instance, that John’s father had had a few strokes, and that Vaughn had sought to influence him by feigning same. This, and Vaughn’s statement that when they got drunk together, John would “bang on about Maya for hours and hours,” underlines the perception we’re getting of John as a potentially much more emotional, more sincere individual than Lucas.

When John asks why Vaughn is acting this way, the only emotive point in his query is when he speaks about Maya:

“Why are you doing this to her?” Lucas (Richard Armitage) asks Vaughn (Iaian Glenn), in Spooks 9.6. Note raised eyebrows, crinkled forehead, slightly dropped jaw.

The gleeful way in which Vaughn delivers a series of crushing assertions here allows us to see a continuity between the expressional repertoires for John and Lucas that I ultimately found much more convincing than emo John, and thus much more moving. When John threatens to shoot Vaughn (something he should have done all along, and one still wonders why he doesn’t do it here, since it’s unclear why eliminating Vaughn would put his relationship with Maya at risk), Vaughn cautions, “Steady, John. You think about this. You have a name, a life, that were never meant to be yours. You have no friends, no family, no past. You’re not a real person. Now I’ve given you something. I’ve given you her.” All the way through this litany of Lucas’s aporias, we can see with complete clarity on Armitage’s face just how devastating this must be for John, but with a near minimum of expression:

This clear devastation expressed without a lot of motion in Armitage’s features makes it possible for Vaughn to deliver his most devastating line to clear effect — that Lucas is not a real person — without us ever having to see Vaughn’s face. It’s thus at the point where Vaughn negates John’s identity as Lucas that we see the greatest damage to his affect:

It’s the lowered eyes, cheeks, even slightly lowered head of humiliation, along with the Adam’s apple that we barely see move under the surface of Armitage’s throat, that make this so moving for us.

And then there’s one more sort of horrified microexpression as Vaughn tells Lucas “I’ve given you her”:

that points simultaneously to what Lucas himself must be realizing at this point — that his effort to reclaim his identity as John has been so fully capacitated and manipulated by Vaughn that it must lead to the near destruction of Lucas. There’s a sadness and a fright here that speaks clearly even though the face is not moving much. We get a lot more out of this version of emo, I would argue, than out of the earlier, emotive anger, although that emotion could have been brought to the fore here as well without a lot of difficulty. We don’t realize at this point, though, how important this realization is going to be to later events in the episode — assuming we start reading the John vs Lucas problem as a question of the integration of personality.

That fright then comes out clearly at the end of the scene, as Vaughn tells John to stop kidding himself that he has a choice in whether to cooperate — that thinking one has volition just makes it all worse. (Something that I incidentally consider an important life insight.)

Moving on to the next series of Armitage’s performances, we’re dealing with Lucas’s interactions with Danielle Ortiz, the American computer expert. I thought she was scripted quite nicely, and I thought that Armitage accomplished Lucas’s weird nervousness, feigned to convince her of the necessity of diverting from the planned route, effectively, even though I had to remind myself that he had to be feigning it and hence was not overacting.

Honestly, I think part of the problem for me in watching several of these episodes is some sort of cognitive trap. First, Armitage establishes this really controlled expressional and gestural repertoire for Lucas. Then, as Lucas, he has to “act” to motivate others to cooperate. So I notice Lucas “acting” in ways to convince others in order to achieve his ends, but then I think, “given that he’s a spy, wouldn’t even Lucas’s acting seem a little less like acting?” And then I think, “but if I didn’t notice him ‘acting,’ how would I realize that he’s lying?” The whole thing –particularly my stance between observer from off screen, and thinking about the scenes from the perspective of the characters on screen — is quite complex, and I wonder how Mr. Armitage deals with putting all of this together. (This question becomes pretty severe for me in the scene with Malcolm; see below.)

Now, it’s clear that the whole point of the Danielle character –as much as I liked her; it seems like Fiona Glascott manages the sort of brash American chick mood that Genevieve O’Reilly occasionally attempted to put on for Sarah Caulfield with a lot more flair– is that putting her in the car with Lucas lets us find out information about him. We’re supposed to see stuff in Lucas because Danielle is needling him. So what is the script reminding us of here? That Lucas sees his prison term in Russia as service to his nation, for instance; that Lucas approves of second chances (with that niggling reminder from Danielle that you only get one!); that of course he’s killed while at work, what a silly question, though it’s pretentiously, annoyingly foreshadowing here; and that none of her rather facetious flirting has any effect on him at all, until she hits the topic of music.

I liked how this was scripted, how Lucas concedes that he “used to” like music. “How does a person go off music? Seriously!” Danielle asks in a rather obnoxious tone, and you can tell that the question is bugging Lucas. His answer is finally, “sometimes you just stop hearing it.” If any of emo John were here, this would have ended up overplayed, but instead, we see the characteristic Armitage chin jerk:

and then the “shaking off bad thought or emotion” face move:

and both of these only from the side.

We know he’s a little rattled in a way he wasn’t by her statements about having to go mountain-climbing with “big spunky guys” like him, but all we really see of that is a slightly more frequent eye blink rate and a glance back across his shoulder.

This is a really strong scene that tells us a lot about the poverty of Lucas’s life without pushing it in our faces. One imagines that it was John who listened to music, never Lucas. See it all in sequence here, and notice how quickly he performs the look over his shoulder:

The next sequence of Armitage’s performance relates to Lucas’s visit to Malcolm to pick up the Albany file. I have to say I thought that this series of interspersed cuts showed Mr. Armitage doing his best work in the episode, and I think it’s for two reasons. The first is because of the cognitive trap I sketched out above. That is, we know he is lying through his teeth all the way through the scene, but a lot of conflicting stuff comes through in addition to those telltale microexpressions. For instance, the scene starts with Lucas seeing Malcolm for the first time in a while, and he gets out a smile that for a split second belongs to the “genuine” side of Lucas’s expressional repertoire, starting from the left side of his face and extending all across it:

But then clearly problematic gestures: first hand to face:

and just as he’s talking about “doctored evidence,” the clear Spooks “I am telling you a narrative” gesture in the same way that it shows up in the conference room:

it’s a “truth” gesture being employed here for its rhetorical effect. Once we as audience grasp this, we start looking understanding the fundamental mood of unease under Lucas’s postures, expressions, and gestures in this scene.

“[Harry’s] as well as can be expected, but he needs our help, [half-beat], Malcolm [tone slightly rising].” The hard sell.

The second reason this is such a great scene is that we see Lucas / John putting into practice what’s been realized at Battersea Park — that the fact of Lucas’s non-reality and John’s suppression under Lucas means that the two have much more in common than either has thought up until now. Hence, the signal sent as Lucas watches Malcolm unearth the desired file is intriguing because first we think, “oh, here’s Lucas, with his typical ruthless, calculating expression.” And yet all the action in this scene is motivated by John and his desire to get and keep Maya.

So what we see, through all the lying, is that John and Lucas, despite their varying emotional repertoires, are really much more connected in terms of their ultimate ethos that we might originally have thought. The emotional John who’ll do anything to protect Maya needs the ruthless, cool Lucas who can manipulate his contacts to get him what he needs. (Metapoint: this is a nice rhetorical and emotional point for the script to be making, but the point makes completely implausible yet again the way that the script makes Lucas look so stupid as he’s succumbing to blackmail. If John and Lucas really are the same person, John needs to be smarter and Lucas more emotional. We see the latter, or hints of it, in Armitage’s performance, but the script up to and including this episode kills the potential for the former). And we know, if we’re thinking, that John must also have had some important ruthless qualities, if he’s done something so terrible that Maya can’t be allowed to know about it.

The newly open ruthless potential of John reaches full fruition when Malcolm says, in response to his confused mother, “it’s just a friend of mine, John,” and we see Lucas reaching into the right-hand pocket of his jacket, where he had stored the pistol and silencer he had prepared to kill or threaten Vaughn.

“Old habits die hard,” Lucas surmises about Malcolm’s use of cover name, and it’s perhaps that realization — that John, the person who was able to do something so stunningly bad that he had to abandon his identity to cover it up for over fifteen years, is still willing to consider killing Malcolm to keep his cover straight and thus much more ruthless than we might have imagined — that makes his parting smile so weak. Now we really read him as insincere, and as if to suggest that Malcolm realizes this, the camera lingers on Malcolm’s face for a long moment as Lucas lowers his head to ask, with an attempt at sincerity, that Malcolm not notify MI-5 of this little data transfer:

“Please?”

It’s interesting, in the immediate wake of this incident, that when Lucas asks Danielle why she ran away, she retorts immediately: “Because you’re lying to me.” There’s a certain paradox to that; we think that we understand best when those closest to us, rather than strangers, are lying — but in the world of the spooks, where everything is a lie, one also has to decide when to accept something problematic as truth — which is what Malcolm at this point appears to be doing. Danielle, in contrast, can look at the obvious indices and read them easily. Her statement is also an index of the extent to which the attributes of John and Lucas have moved much closer to each other in the extremely complex scene with Malcolm.

Here the script gets a little ham-handed again. It’s a nice conceit that strangers make us look at ourselves differently, but this moment takes the notion a step oddly too far. It’s not helped by the odd intensity of Danielle here, which moves beyond her general pattern of weirdness. I actually think Armitage’s performance saves the scene from being too overwrought.

Danielle Ortiz (Fiona Glascott) asks Lucas: “So are you running toward something? Or away from it?”

Again, this is not about Danielle, but about Lucas — we’re supposed to conclude that the conflation of potentially virtuous John and ruthless Lucas is in a position to confuse him about his motivation for what he’s in the process of doing. Lucas is clearly a little surprised by her question and then statement, and unsure what to do with her — so we see hints of interesting reactions, for example, at 0:06 (twitching right corner of mouth), but nothing definitive, before he cuts off the scene and thus the reflection. He doesn’t really know exactly what he’s doing, anymore, I think, and thus the decision to end the conversation.

[As a side point, it’s interesting that from this point on in the episode until the final action sequence, often the only clues we have to Lucas’s reactions are what we see in the rear-view mirror of the car. Interesting editing choice.]

About to execute Danielle, Lucas (Richard Armitage) hesitates in Spooks 9.6.

The remainder of the script offers Armitage an interesting dilemma, I think. On the one hand, Lucas can’t or won’t kill Danielle in cold blood, telling Harry that he’ll taking decommissioning rather than do so; on the other, given Danielle’s knowledge of his detour to Malcolm’s house, her status is already uncertain, and when she reveals that she knows the name of the information he’s aggregated, Albany, her fate is sealed. Lucas won’t kill her to protect the computer security of the West, but he will let her die in order to hide his own, or John’s misdeeds, which is starting to mean the same thing. We see a palimpsest here on Armitage’s body of the old Lucas we remember from series 7, who worked tirelessly to protect the civilians in his path, people like Dean and his mother, on the face of series 9 Lucas, who is a traitor. (And now we wonder: was Lucas’s heroism in series 7 and parts of 8 an attempt to make up for his ruthlessness as John in the part of the story we don’t know about yet?)

Lucas’s refusal to kill at the outset of the scene thus ends up being much more a demonstration of his skill as a spy, or alternately, an attempt to prevent himself from being manipulated (either by Harry, or the unknown author of the voice on his cell phone) than an ultimate demonstration of his ethics. Given the extent to which he’s been manipulated so far, his anger in the next moments reads a great deal like the latter:

“Wrong answer,” says Lucas, when the voice on the phone can’t tell him what Harry’s favorite opera is, and casts away the cell phone, in Spooks 9.6.

“Hey, look at you, you didn’t lie,” Danielle (Fiona Glascott) gasps when Lucas doesn’t refute her surmise that her wound is bad.

In the end, after a moment where Lucas disables one of his attackers with almost unparalleled brutality for this character, he’s not able to move himself back to a pure ethical stance — neither the emotionality of John, nor the rationality of Lucas. Now, it seems that Danielle would have died anyway, as her wound was so severe. But just as Danielle praises Lucas for telling her the truth, he lies her into her death — hanging up his call to the emergency rescue services, pulling her arm away from keeping pressure on her wound, and telling her, to soothe her, that he can hear the ambulance coming. He tells her won’t let her die — and yet, he does.

But Armitage still can’t push Lucas (or John? since it’s John who needs her to die) to a place of real aggression. Once Danielle has gasped out the name, “Albany,” and in response he’s made his calculation:

He lets her die with a whimper rather than a bang. He takes her fingers away gently, he holds her patiently, he lets her slide away. We can read this as either emotionality or rationality, as either John or Lucas — but either way it’s cruel.

The dead Danielle is the price that John wanted to pay for Maya, and we see –perhaps with a little more than disappointment– that John can put on his anticipatory face for her as he approaches her house:

and we can see his eyes smiling in the rear view mirror — the first time they’ve done this all episode:

But this personage — John as we’ve known him in previous encounters with Maya, loving, hopeful — is doomed to erasure. Because now it’s clearly John — who has, via Danielle’s death, finally been fully invested with all of the ruthlessness of Lucas and none of Lucas’s ethics– who goes back to Malcolm’s house to obtain that file, at any cost:

Which brings me back to the question I raised at the beginning about the emotionality of John. I’d been reading those earlier segments — chunks of characterization that I didn’t especially like, and that I attributed at least in part to dilemmas set up by the script — as statements about emotionality, anger, and frustration. The next point at which we see that, however, is in the final scene of the episode:

When you watch that, and it has a few truly alarming seconds, you wonder if what you are seeing is the disintegration of a personality that can no longer accommodate all the elements associated with it. Lucas and John can’t really fit in the same body. If that’s what Armitage is trying to achieve here: it’s frighteningly real.

Clothing Armitage:

Not a lot to say here, but I wondered if the reason the Belstaff jacket didn’t appear was that Mr. Armitage still appears to have so much of John Porter’s upper body musculature, so that the narrow cut of the jacket would have been difficult to carry off, to wit:

And as usual, I like Lucas’s choice of shoes:

Random:

Blurry, but love how both of his feet leave the ground when he’s running:

And how far he can get his mouth open:

Favorite quip:

Danielle: “Hey, James Bond!” Lucas: “Not exactly. Lucas North, MI-5.” Khandy should love this!

Second favorite quip:

Danielle: “So what’s your big secret, James? Or should I tell your bosses about our pitstop here in Hobbit Country?”

Favorite camera angle:

Let’s hope some light opens up over Lucas soon. Quidquid latet, apparebit!

~ by Servetus on October 26, 2010.

149 Responses to “What IS Harry’s favorite opera? [Spooks 9.1-9.6 spoilers!]”

  1. Just wanted to say that male dancers usually need to be good at “body slinging” so he’s probably had some experience in that department!

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    • Indeed. It’s just sort of amusing, how many times he has to pick her up and move her.

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      • Poor actress, having to be manhandled like that repeatedly by RA and then “die” in his arms . . . A TOUGH job but someone has to do it.

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        • The blood is kind of icky, but I’d be up for the rest. 🙂

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          • I could easily overlook the whole sticky fake blood to enjoy the perks of the part.

            (I’m still a wee bit jealous of that agent he wrestled to the ground in 7.1 trying to get the cyanide capsule out of her mouth.)

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  2. Terrific plot summary servetus! Love your screencaps too. I had tears in my eyes during this episode, but it was the scene where he lets the girl die. It was done so gently, but deliberately it was chilling! Then, the last scene where you are left to wonder would he have really killed Malcolm? It is so upsetting! I can see what you say about his two personalities unravelling. I can’t stand the suspense of only having such tidbits of his past life revealed every week. It’s taking away my enjoyment for the rest of the story. I think Richard is once again saving the scriptwriters from an otherwise disastrous season.

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    • I thought about this a lot after I pushed publish yesterday — as you know I am watching these once or twice (in this case, parts of it three times) and recording general impressions. The question about Lucas / John’s affect being reflective of psychosis or thought disorder only emerged for me because Mr. Armitage’s performance is so subtle that we’re still not entirely sure what’s going on. This could have been played as multiple personality disorder — which might have gotten me to stop watching entirely — and I think that the script wants us to think at least initially that these “breaks” on Lucas’s part are rage — but in the end, Armitage’s performance points us toward some kind of mental illness. In a way this makes sense, as imprisonment under conditions of sensory deprivation can cause psychosis. It just seems awfully cheap as a plot solution — though he does pretty well with it. It’s very hard for someone who’s not psychotic to simulate the rage associated with a violent outbreak of psychosis convincingly. That’s to me what the end of this episode looks like.

      What I worry about is if I am not simply attributing way too much sophistication to the script writers. You’re absolutely right that Armitage’s performance is the only thing saving this increasingly bizarre plot line.

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      • Something that struck me when I felt like punishing myself and re-watched the last few minutes, is how reminiscent some of Lu-John’s facial expressions in that last scene are to those seen in the viral SB video. The rage and the frustration and desperation . . .

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  3. I really need to re-watch this episode. I was too distracted and didn’t quite get what the plot was, aside from “the Grid has been compromised by the Russians & Chinese”. For instance, I had no clue what the American woman was actually there for, until I started reading reviews. Nice to see Malcolm again. I got way too excited to see him than my Spooks history warrants! It was all “oh look, it’s Malcolm! Yay!” and I’ve only followed the show since s7. Heh.

    One thing that struck me, at the very end, is that Lucas’s demise might actually be suicide. I didn’t think so before, but now I think that’s an option for him. On the other hand, perhaps my benefit of a doubt isn’t do doubtful – Harry knows. Spooky.

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    • Yeah, getting to see Malcolm is so distracting that you don’t really think about what might actually be happening in that interaction.

      Suicide: yes. If he’s really starting to experience psychosis that would be a legitimate conclusion. But gosh, I hope not. I already have a really hard time watching 8.4 because of that.

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      • This reminded me of why I really dislike Vicky Frost as a spooks commentator (sorry, but I have to say it). She didn’t actually blast RA for his acting today but she did make some crack about not wanting any more of that “hand to the throat, hanging himself acting.”

        Pardon me? I felt so much as if I was experiencing exactly what he was in that 8.4 scene (which I also have a very hard time watching)I was absolutely riveted and haunted by that scene.
        Does she not understand the concept of certain mannerisms being in an actor’s repertoire for his character, signifying certain deep feelings and/or emotional upheavals?

        Or maybe Lucas isn’t her idea of a proper Alpha male?

        I’d be interested in knowing exactly who or what is her idea of a great actor, because I suspect it differs greatly from mine. OK, rant over. Better now. Back to my usual lovable self.

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        • You are so right. She thinks Richard can’t act at all. Until now I thought she just doesn’t get the concept of “subtlety”. Now all of a sudden she thinks he overacts. Her comments succeed in gathering all the jealous males around her.

          [Nietzsche, I edited this slightly: it’s fine to criticize what anyone says on this blog, but the way you originally put your last comment read like a personal attack, which I don’t like. Thanks for your understanding. — Servetus]

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          • I think what set my teeth on edge so badly this time around was, for me, the callousness of Frost’s comment. The character was remembering all too clearly the awful moment when the despair was too much and he wanted to end it all by killing himself.

            Granted, I am feeling very emotional about what seems to be the demise and what IS the destruction of a great character in whom I have invested time, affection and admiration. And yes, love.
            Her comments seem chilly and snarky, and yes, Nietzsche, she has her own not-so-merry little Band of Male Pattern Jealous Men to make her feel loved. (Why do I envision them all looking like Vasey or a middle-aged Robin with a comb-over and a gut?)

            She cannot seem to bring herself to admit the “eye candy” can act, too–and very well.

            I really should put her on the list of blogs I do not read, as she and some of her ilk raise my blood pressure nearly every time.

            [Angie, I also edited this slightly because I was uncomfortable with remarks that could be read as an ad hominem attack. Fine to criticize her viewpoint, though. Thanks for your understanding. — Servetus.]

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        • the script is also not his fault.

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          • Exactly. And some people seem to be far more charitable toward other Spooks characters when they act, well–out of character. Or just act really annoying. Poor Richard just gets slammed for under or over-acting. That’s OK. We know he’s great, even if they can’t see it.

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  4. This would all be falling into soap opera territory–Good twin versus Evil twin–for me personally, if it weren’t for Richard’s marvelous performance.
    I am tired of script rehashes, too. Scratching my head over those swooning over Spook’s “fresh ideas” this series when they seem to be stealing from both Strike Back and Robin Hood.

    And I am going to be ready to change my normally non-violent ways and kill these scriptwriters if they leave us with another cliffhanger where we don’t know the character’s fate, only we do–because how can Lucas go on (A) after being proven a traitor and (B) RA is going to be so darned busy he won’t have time to film any more anyway?

    Yes, Phyllys, I agree–Richard, the detailed, dedicated, brilliant actor–is once again saving the scriptwriters from an otherwise disastrous season. Amen, and amen.
    Those last moments when Lu-John seemed to be unraveling before our very eyes truly made me feel sick at my stomach.

    I’m torn between not being able to look away and not wanting to look because of the continued deconstruction of a character I loved and admired–who may not have existed at all . . . well, of course, he didn’t. It’s a TV show, I tell myself.

    But Richard makes me believe, you see. And care. And I don’t want Lucas to die this tragic death as a duplicitous traitor and complete and utter fool–idiot, perhaps?-for love.

    Still so much to be explained. And Maya, you’d better be a lot more worth it than I think you are, because right now I am wishing Lucas had dispatched the Despicable Maughn posthaste in that first ep and never, ever set his eyes on that photo of you.

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    • We had talked about this tangentially earlier this season, Angie — if the script was going to give Lucas MPD, could we stand that. It’s not clear what the script is doing. As you say — it’s only the performance that makes it credible.

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      • They should thank their lucky stars they have him in that role because if, written as it is, another lesser actor was playing the role, I think the amount of incredulous laughter heard might cross the pond. Then again, would they have ever attempted such a mind-bending story arc with a lesser actor?

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  5. I was totally emotionally exhausted after seeing this episode, and once again Servetus, you’ve done a marvelous job of summarizing the main points, and pointing out the key points of RA’s performance as Lucas/John. I’m still digesting the episode that I saw late at night, and I know I will be thinking about it all day (and more). Again, just some random thoughts and speculation.
    The character of Danielle Ortiz- again I find it interesting the writers perception of US Americans. By giving her the last name of “Ortiz” they signaled this was an American woman of Hispanic descent. Yet there was nothing about this character, either in the conversation between her and Lucas or her physical appearance to signal she was a Latina. This was very much an Anglo woman. Why pick the name Ortiz out of a hat then, to make it more plausible that she was a former convict? There are several reasons why I would notice this, but I think the writers missed an opportunity here. Many, or most, Latinos deal with integrating cultural and personality issues in their daily life in the US, especially someone lets say who may be first generation in the US. One person in private life, another person in work life lets say – to simplify the issue. This could have been an interesting angle to explore in her interaction with Lucas/John who is having an emotional breakdown while trying to integrate what we are meant to think are two separate identities, and having to be one person in private life (John with Maya) and one in his work life (Lucas). I thought maybe there was a thought behind making her an Ortiz, but apparently not.
    I also thought there were a number on “inside jokes” in this episode from the writers directed to Richard Armitage. The “James Bond” reference (of course what woman wouldn’t think of James Bond when first encountering Lucas North, MI5) and clearly the Hobbit Country reference. As we now know, he knew about his casting as Thorin well before we did, and would have, of course, discussed this with Kudos. Despite the seriousness of the scene, I’m sure they all had a good laugh over that one.
    Now, having had time to digest it a bit, Lucas’ encounter with Malcolm and Malcolm calling him “John”, the fact that everything was moved out in expectation Lucas/John would return, Malcolm having so conveniently buried something that could pass as “Albany” when Lucas arrives, (if they don’t reveal what Albany is at the end of the series, I will kill the writers), Harry’s reaction when Ruth tells him Lucas is a traitor, Malcolm telling Lucas he was one of “three names” allowed to get access to Albany, and implying the others are dead…bear with me here…what if we’ve been seeing all of this from the wrong angle, from the wrong side. What if this was all a set up to begin with and an operation only Harry and Malcolm (and Lucas?, maybe, maybe not?) are aware of, and that there is a larger Chinese plot against the free world here, that we are aware of now. I couldn’t help but think of that old US show the Twilight Zone as I was watching this episode.
    I don’t believe his love for Maya. Whether Lucas or John, a man giving up his life and betraying the loyalty he has maintained through 8 years of torture in a Russian prison for a woman he really barely knows?
    OK – I’m writing too much -apologies – but I just have to say I’m still struggling with my love for Lucas, but he’s making it very hard to love him here. You’ve gone very thoroughly how RA is dealing with all this, and I have to see the episode again to take all of it in.

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    • Thanks for raising the question / problem of why Danielle is given the surname “Ortiz.” I considered raising this, but I am not in a position myself to be saying “that person is not Hispanic _enough_ to be playing a Latina.” This seems like another case where the Spooks writers randomly pick something that seems convincing to their core audience of UK viewers that just makes no sense to anyone who knows anyone actually named “Ortiz.” I.e., a laziness so inept that it’s frustrating.

      Even though I would find it cheap as a dramatic technique, I hope as a Lucas-lover that your explanation — that there is some huge obvious thing we’re not grasping here — is true. Otherwise I may die of frustration.

      And you return us again to the credibility of the John – Maya connection. I never thought she’d jump into bed with him that quickly, but what your question points out is that all the hoops that John is jumping through here for her are starting to make this relationship a little like Nightingale: something that we have no evidence of, but have to take on trust.

      You’re not writing too much. This was all lovely analysis, Musa.

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  6. Musa,

    I keep hoping that we are all being played as viewers and this is one heck of an elaborate charade and it will turn out Lucas was in cahoots with Harry all along–or (sorry, Harry lovers) Harry is really the bad guy and Lucas is working within MI-5 to bring him down or–well, anything that will ultimately vindicate Lucas. I’m grasping at straws. Because I love that character and I hate what’s being done to him.

    I have no faith in the Maya character at this point. “Show, don’t tell” is one of the rules of writing. These scriptwriters have given us nothing to work with so far to make us believe Lucas/John would give up everything, lie, steal,potentially kill, become a traitor, in order to be with her.

    She’s a big “meh” for me. At least in RH we saw Guy and Marian’s relationship evolve. Again, I think they try to cram too much into eight eps at the expense of character development.

    Interesting point about Danielle Ortiz. I, too, wondered at the obviously Hispanic name for a very Anglo-looking woman (although perhaps she married a Latino and kept his name after a divorce? And there are some blue-eyed blonde Latinos–I am related to some by marriage–but this gal didn’t seem to fit the bill).

    Given what they’ve done so far with the scripts, I am putting it down to just clutching a name out of the air.

    I need to watch it again, but only after my head has cleared a bit and my stomach is more settled.

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    • Danielle as scripted here seemed much more “white trash” (please excuse the stereotype) or “counter culture drop out” than Latina.

      I’m willing to believe in John / Lucas’s love for Maya — since it seems to keep him on this disastrous path. I just hope that it doesn’t turn out to have been completely illusory. I don’t want Lucas destroyed by love YET AGAIN.

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      • Angie and Servetus – I should have explained I’m a Latina,that’s my only claim of “expertise” in what I posted about Ortiz. I thought why give her a cultural identity? But you’re right, they just used a name with no other meaning. Well, of course she could have married a Latino. More than her appearance, it was her persona that didn’t say “latina” to me. Plus I would hope we could flirt better than she did with Lucas! I agree Angie that we come in all shades and natural hair colors (of course, we could all be blonde if we wish!). One thing that still bothers me is Vaughn’s statement that he had to find Maya to have leverage to blackmail Lucas/John. Why? Even if the man was someone else before,he’s been Lucas North for 15 years and suffered in prison for 8 years, has an ex-wife, etc.and the fear of losing his career, and his honor,would have been enough grounds for blackmail if the writers wanted to go that way without bringing in this bogus love affair!! That entire scene, though a wonderful scene in acting terms with two good actors, makes no sense to me. I need to watch it again in a less emotional state.

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        • I have to tell you, Musa, I used to want desperately to have classic Latina coloring when I was younger. Instead I was blonde, blue-eyed, pale–I felt so very “vanilla.” But you’re right, there are all kinds of means to change our looks if we choose these days. (I finally reconciled myself to being blonde and pale and left it at that *grin*) But no, I would have to agree Danielle didn’t seem exactly the right persona–and you’d know better than I!

          As to what you said about Vaughn’s conversation with John, it’s yet one more of the things I just don’t understand, at least not yet. It almost seems like they feel obligated to give the handsome, brooding, desirable Lucas a love interest but in no way feel obligated to make said romantic relationship believable.

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          • Really, a script should be strewing more crumbs of information all along, even if they are confusing or disguised. We have to believe not only that Maya is lovable enough to generate all of this sacrifice (or alternatively, that Lucas is so desirous to restore that piece of his identity that he lost), but also that whatever John did was so bad that Maya could never love him after finding out what it was. Because that all three of these possibilities are being stretched out ad infinitum, our patience with the storytelling is evaporating. It’s now hard to see how anything they could think of short of Lucas committing genocide could possibly be worth all of this travail …

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            • Or something like being the world’s most prolific and sadist serial killer. Which I now am convinced he could play extremely well. But I don’t want that to be who or what Lucas North turns out to be.

              Yes, we need hints, suggestions, glimmers of back story along the way to tantalise and intrigue us and held us work at putting this puzzle together. Instead we’re left in a kind of limbo waiting to see what they give us and fearing (at least in my case) it’s going to be one terrible letdown. How can we not be frustrated, given what we’ve gotten from the scriptwriters so far?

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      • Well, as a southerner, I am well familiar with the stereotype of white trash and, actually, know a few people who fit that bill, I have to confess. I’d say Danielle was perhaps supposed to be white trash punk? (She reminded me vaguely of a blonde Cyndi Lauper without a Betty Boop voice.)

        Part of me wants to believe their love is real, but the whole John and Maya storyline hasn’t, as yet, worked for me.

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        • Yeah, at this point, she’s going to practically have to be Helen of Troy to make all of this plot twisting plausible to the viewer.

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          • And while I do see definite chemistry between RA and Laila, the way it’s been scripted and directed, it’s really not coming through in most of what we’ve been given so far.

            I don’t just mean in terms of sexy time; the lack of seeing their conversations, of discovering this apparently amazing connection between them after all these years. It’s perplexing.

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            • I agree with you that one of the problems here is not developing the John/Maya love affair enough so we would find the behavior of Lucas/John now to be believable in any way. I haven’t really felt any true connection between the characters from the few scenes of them together. To me it seems all the passion is coming from Lucas/John, mostly when he’s alone reacting to a phone call from Vaughn.

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            • I’m still hoping we’ll see some flashback scenes — wasn’t that the point of filming in Wandsworth? And that picture had Mr. Armitage looking a bit grimy and disheveled. Of course, those scenes may have been filmed and left on the floor.

              If you know the answer to this question, don’t tell me. One more week and then everyone can say exactly waht they want!

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  7. All I want to say is …
    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  8. I love Lucas and nothing the Spooks writers can cook up to discredit this character is going to change that! Even in this episode we caught glimpses of the beautiful, caring superspy, even though John was put through hell and acted despicably for Maya’s sake. It’s hard to believe that even a person damaged by eight years in a Russian prison would be willing to sacrifice so much of what he has painstakingly built up and his old friend, Malcolm, for three snogs and a night with Maya! I also don’t understand why the writers ditched the Russian background, including all reference to his marriage to Elizaveta, for some bogus African connection with Vaughn/Michael. As a viewer, I would have felt that a tying-in of Vaughn with Lucas’ past in Russia could have been exciting and consistent with the character we got to know and love in the previous series.

    Lucas. come to Norway. You’d be safe here with me.
    PS. Don’t bring Maya. I’m not at all convinced that her luke-warm love is worth what you’re going through, even though I think the angst being wonderfully portrayed by Richard!

    Servetus: All the tie-in with references to Richard’s past and future roles and the SB story, I’ve long suspected the Spooks writers of loving their in-jokes with RA’s fanbase.

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    • You’re so charitable — making the whole script an in joke hadn’t occurred to me, though I assumed the two quips I noted were.

      What would your husband say if Lucas came to live with you? 🙂 I think Lucas should come to Texas. There are plenty of wrongs here to be righted. Agree that Maya should stay home.

      I assume that we’re going to get some explanation that makes Elizaveta fit into this narrative. Otherwise you’re right, the total abandonment of that story is enraging, especially since those moments are among the most touching of series 7, and thus part of what makes us believe in the ethical quality of Lucas (e.g., when he tells Ben that they’re not going to use E. as an asset anymore).

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      • I think Lucas should come to Alabama–oh, wait, he’s already here on my sofa, attractively brooding again! *giggle*

        If Elizaveta is left out, it is going to be one more bit of ammunition I’ll want to aim at these people. That scene in S7 between them on the street, the tenderness in his eyes and smile and the way he touched her–I’ll never forget that. The expression when he looked at her photograph, the sadness in that little smile as he finally tore it and effectively discarded his hopes and dreams of a life with her . . .
        Oh bloody ‘eck, I’m going to make myself cry again. yes, I fully believed Lucas, though damaged and wounded, was essentially a decent and ethical human being.

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        • Well, maybe Lucas was. It’s just that he was a construction. I don’t know that that’s such a reproach to either Lucas (or to John — since even if he did something so evil as to be completely unforgivable, he at least had the potential to make Lucas the hero we thought he was until now.)

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          • John Bateman did something very, very bad and then strove to redeem himself as Lucas North, putting (literally) his past completely behind him–only to have it all come crashing down on him . . .
            A friend of mine has a really interesting theory about what might have really happened with Vaughn and John . . . will share after this is all over. It could make a great fan fic concept and I hope she writes it.

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        • Well, I hope when we finally find out the truth about John and Vaughn that it lives up to all the hype. What about Lucas/John’s father? Only relative Lucas/John ever mentions, then Vaughn mentions him??????? I do love Spooks, even before RA, but this season I’ve actually enjoyed the episodes without much of Maya and John more. I also loved Lucas and Elizaveta and sorry the writers didn’t develop that love story more. If only Kudos had hired all of us to write Season 9 🙂

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          • This is an issue that is really sort of simmering in the background of my subconscious where anger potentially resides: Lucas tells Harry and Ros in 8.4 that he went on holiday with his father to the Thames Estuary and that he had shared this info with Oleg Darshavin. Also in 8.4 Oleg Darshavin says he knows every inch of Lucas’s mind. Us believing that is part of what makes that episode so chilling (and as many have commented the emotive level of that relationship is much more convincing than Lucas’s with Sarah Caulfield). So now we are supposed to believe that the Lucas North story is completely a legend — and that touching scene in 7.6 between Lucas and Dean rests totally on a myth. So what does that say about Oleg’s knowledge of Lucas? Doesn’t it completely undermine one of the most successful moments in all of series 8?

            This is the kind of thing that could give me a psychosis if I let it out.

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            • IMO the best, at least for me, is to ignore series 9 in the future. Part of me is looking forward to the last two episodes, because of Richard’s wonderful acting – as Angie said, he could play Jekill and Hyde without needing make-up. But then I’ll return to the Lucas of series 7, Lucas the minister’s son, Lucas the hero, taking a bullet for his team and using his own blood to save them, Lucs who stayed loyal despite all the terror he went through. I’ll revisit 8.4, 8.7 and 8.8, but I consider not even buying the seris 9 DVDs.

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  9. I need to quote The Dude, “I am a pacifist man.” But I wanted to beat the heck out of the writers last night! Lucky I am here and they are there. @Sev thanks for making sense of it all. Could you do that for me in RL? 🙂

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  10. Apart from the destruction of a great character, that whole Lucas thing also damages the other characters. Ruth is becoming a Mary Sue (I’ll be extremely annoyed when she speaks another exotic language at simultaneous translator level, trust me, I’ll scream!), Harry has either no judgment of character or is manipulating Lucas, and MI5 has lousy vetting procedures. This show is getting on my nerves big time.

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    • Excellent point, Nietzche. For me, it’s making the whole Grid seem more and more unreal. Ruth is irritatingly good at EVERYTHING now. Harry seems like either a clueless numpty with really bad judgment or a manipulative bastard (not too keen on either of these characters these days). It’s a bloody soap opera, I’m telling you!
      I want to see what happens to Lucas and continue to support my favorite actor, but as far as the rest of it goes, sorry–I’m done. I have other things I’m finding more worthy of watching than this.

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      • Ruth is still a total emotional incompetent, I think, although this is an Asperger’s stereotype. In a way, the Grid is just one big collection of emotional problems.

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        • Makes me feel almost amazingly normal compared to this crew. Bit worrying to think a nation’s safety and survival depends on them, though.

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          • Well, if you knew actual people in the US secret services, you’d probably have the same reaction. All that secrecy probably makes for a level of extreme weirdness.

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            • My husband was one of those top secret clearance people in the Air Force who always joked, “I’d tell you but I would have to kill you.”
              He’s wonderfully normal (he says someone in this relationship needs to be) but he would agree there are some oddballs in such positions.

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              • Lol.

                I’m liking the “Ruth as villain” scenario more and more after seeing series 3, where she’s given a crazy abortive love affair with someone she’s spying on in an early episode, she puts herself in his path, he seems just as great as she thinks he is, and then they both walk away, and then in episode 7 she experiences a brief attraction to the guy who turns out to be the homegrown terrorist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_ecWDuv1wI&list=SL

                That and the fact that her Chinese is so impressive in 9.3. Plus everything Musa says about her potential anger over losing George (and Niko) and then that bizarre proposal in 9.1. I think we could make a good case for this.

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    • This is a good point. That line in 9.3 where she says that she’s good at Cantonese but her Mandarin is awful makes me want to scream. (Not least because I’ve invested years becoming fluent in languages a lot easier than dialects of Chinese, and I know what that costs.)

      Are we seeing here a return to the more ruthless Harry of seasons 1-3?

      Agree about the vetting procedures. I said at some point that they could just invite people off the street onto the Grid.

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      • They have an assessment test on their website, though only at times when they are searching for personnel. I did it and got “Go ahead and apply!” What does that tell you about me? LOL!

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      • Ah yes, Ruth. I have thought since the start of series 9 if Ruth is to be trusted. Everything is set up so we, the audience, trust her as much as we trust Harry. (Especially those that know her character before Season 7). But think of it, she lost the personal happiness she had found, her new man, her new family, because of her MI5 past. Then her friend Jo is killed in the line of duty for MI5. She comes back to the Grid as though none of this affects her loyalty. I don’t know, I have my doubts about Ruth, despite the fact I actually like Ruth and always have, and still do. I was happy when the character returned to the Grid.

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  11. Hopefully I’ll come back and say some more but I wanted to mention that when the preview of this ‘cyber attack’ episode was shown at the end of last weeks episode it was then immediately followed by the news on BBC1 announcing that the UK Government had identified cyber attacks as a threat to the UK – that caused a few goose pimples I would say – Spooks strikes again!!!!

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    • There’s a good reminder in what you say, kaprekar, about the context of viewing this for the core audience that’s probably lost on me as an American (and things that bug American viewers probably don’t trouble the show’s core audience).

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  12. Your summary once again is marvelous!
    Your description of RA’s facial expressions makes things much more transparent to me. I see his reactions and react to them, but never could put that into words. Really excellent analysis and as ever wonderful to read!
    All the previous episodes I directly wanted to watch and re-watch over and over again, but not this one. I do not want to see this one again, though I think RA was great in it.
    I think it is, because I compare a spook to a chess player. He is calculating, manipulating and intriguing. All this Lucas must have been previously, otherwise Harry would not have referred to his time at MI5 before his imprisonment in Russia as “one of the best”.
    But since coming back, Lucas did not show his full abilities. He only acted in series 7, got caught out for his efforts by Harry and Ros. In series 8 he reacted to his memories of imprisonment, a love affair a bomb threat.
    And now in series 9 he is completely pushed around like a chess figure on a chess board. Episode 6 only confirmed my worst fears and I hope he at least can die or vanish in an effort to protect his country.
    His character makes no congruent picture to me. I absolutely agree with @MillyMe, that a Russian background would have worked much better for Lucas. I think, they got the idea while dropping the script part at the beginning of series 7, where they intended to show that Adam had a completely invented background in the MI5-files. Perhaps they wanted to re-use this element. (I somewhere saw a reference to that in a YouTube video which contained dropped parts of Spooks 7.1.)
    Spooks 9 is only worthwhile for me to watch as RA makes the character struggles so transparent. But still I do not see the character development of Lucas / John in any way plausible. With this background, Lucas/John would never have reacted so naively to Vaughan’s suggestions. His emotional outbreaks after 15 (!) years of refinement and self denial are in no way logic for me. In my experience in jobs after three years you are what you pretend to be. The first year you struggle, the second year you adjust, the third year you become one.
    And one thing I expect from someone with a memory ability to remember a fleeting glimpse of a monitor screen after hours of seeing it, is that he sometimes can think in a logical way. Lucas in series 9 does not seem to think at all or construe a potential outcome of his actions.
    So I am absolutely disappointed of what the screenwriters did so far with a really powerful and expandable character in Spooks. I cannot imagine they can wholly turn around that deficit in the last two episodes, but who knows… (Hope dies last).
    <>

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    • Thanks, CDoart.

      I think the idea of the “completely invented background” as a means of explaining this is a good one — I know the scenes you are referring to from series 7.

      I agree that anyone who’d been in prison for 8 years would be a much better schemer, or more alert, than Lucas seems to be here.

      What a poignant last line 😦

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    • Sometimes hope is all we seem to have. This series isn’t leaving us with much else. Lucas seems to be in some strange fugue state at times, in and out of it; again, is it that he is having a nervous breakdown, or does he truly have MPD? Or are these scriptwriters truly just making a lot of it up as they go along ignoring what was written and established in past series?

      I guess in a couple more weeks, we’ll know, one way or another . . .

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      • My big fear at this point is that Mr. Armitage’s performance point us in the direction that Lucas could actually be losing his marbles — in which case this would be a brilliant exploration of the toll this life has taken on him and the way it’s messed up his identity to the point that he’s having difficulty functioning — but that the script will come up with some stupid deus ex machina explanation that will make his performances look like he (like me) was spending way too much effort thinking about how to make this all plausible in a situation where we ultimately will not find the ending plausible under any circumstances.

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        • *sigh* I really don’t have a lot of faith in the scriptwriters any more. I just hate the thought of Lucas North being made not just a traitor, but an idiot.

          Suffering a mental breakdown after everything he’s been through, I could deal with that. But don’t make HIM a clueless pawn with, as you say, some stupid deus ex machina explanation.

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  13. @Angie — clueless numpty. love it! i did like the sassy american girl. that scene in the woods –there was a bit of chemistry there. i liked how lucas was dragging her around like she was his bratty sister he had to babysit instead of his job. the thing of it is…is where are they going with all of this???? like what’s the point?

    he says i went to jail for “queen & country.” so is it that we are to understand the level of sacrifice spooks make for their jobs? is lucas/john having a nevous breakdown?

    oh, good grief, bring on the dam dwarf…

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    • Thank you, @Rob. I’ll be here all week. *grin*

      Shame the females Lucas connects with nicely end up dying or being Russian strippers/lap dancers LOL I tell you, Vasey has a hand in this. He’s so disgruntled that Guy died “proud and free” he’s making sure Lucas dies a shameful traitor (at least that’s my fear) without any hope of real happiness or love in his life.
      (Oh, crap, I want to cry again. And I’m at work finishing my lunch. Maintain, girl, maintain)
      It’s a tragic ending in more ways than one–tragic for this once-heroic and admirable character, and tragic for the viewers who saw such promise in this character and who have been as cruelly manipulated, in my opinion, as Lucas, apparently, has been.

      Can he possibly come back as a hero, a wronged one, from all this? I really don’t see how. Now I am wondering if they are trying to pull some sort of Manchurian Candidate stunt with Lucas as the unknowing pawn of the baddies.

      I’m with you. Bring on the dwarf and the sooner, the better.

      Like

      • Manchurian candidate=that was my theory during the summer (all the China themed stuff in Lucas’s 8.4 apartment) 🙂

        Like

        • It really has been dancing around in my head, that thought. Benny and I watched the original movie a couple of months ago.

          Like

          • I’ve seen the original few times with students — when I have to teach the Cold War it’s either that or Dr. Strangelove.

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            • Dr. Strangelove!! Mr Ladywriter’s favorite Cold War black comedy! Originally meant to be a drama, of course. Absolutely brilliant.

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              • Yeah. The issue with using it in class is that undergraduates in the US in the current generation have a really hard time understanding parody and/or irony. It’s weird because supposedly the number 1 news source among my students is the Daily Show. So they should understand basic elements of comedy. But somehow they don’t apply that to historical sources. Leads to some interesting exam answers, though …

                Like

    • nervous breakdown=yeah. I think that’s where both the episode and Armitage’s performance this week are pointing us. Is that credible? Less certain.

      Like

  14. Yes, the scriptors are at it again. Mind games with the audience. It’s all RA’s fault; he makes us invest in the character 😦 – and then after a waterfall, BOOM! (can’t recall the whole phrase.)

    For all its absurdities, at least Gisborne’s character and develpment were credible….

    Really a shame to turn such a promising character into a psychopath, just to let him leave the show. A bit simplistic.

    Like

    • Exactly. Let me give credit where credit is due and say ultimately the RH writers made sense of things and Gisborne made a believable transformation from vengeful, ale-soaked henchman with a death wish to a proud, heroic figure willing to fight and die on the side of right
      (it didn’t hurt, of course, that Richard was the one doing the morphing and making it all so heartbreakingly, achingly real for us).

      People who think this current series has such superior writing, well—-we must agree to disagree. On closer examination it simply does not hold up. Excitement, yes. But at what cost? Destroy a fascinating character for the sake of ratings and to provide an exit to the series.

      Richard, honey, I don’t think they are worthy of you, I really don’t.

      Like

    • I don’t think he’s a psychopath — that’s not plausible, unless he’s simply been miming the ethical Lucas for the last two seasons, and that’s a bit hard to credit. I do think it’s possible that he’s become psychotic.

      Like

  15. Well I’m sick with the worse cold I have had in years so I have all day to sit and ponder and type. I have said on several threads that I can’t understand how it is possible to think this was a great episode but hate it all the same. I cannot begin to understand why thet would deconstrut the character they established over the last two series. It is as if those shows didn’t happen. Kudos learned nothing last season when people did not get Lucas and Sarah Angie yoy are right they need to show us why Lucas is so in love with Maya.

    As for Lucas’ actions well how do they explain his letting that girl die? That whole scene was just sickening from the phone call to the words of comfort so at odds to his cold calculated actions. Stunning acting by RA for which on dedicated Sppoks forums he gets little recognition. He crossed a line here and I have no idea how the writers can explain it satisfactorly

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    • Khandy,

      We meet again. I’ve decided some Spooks fan have their heads so far up certain parts of their anatomy they can’t see what a bravura performance RA is giving.

      Apparently they are too busy squeeing over Malcolm’s return (glad to see him and all that, but not trusting him now, either, after calling Lucas “John” and doing the fake file and big clear-out), and hoping for more longing glances and UST between Ruth and Harry (enough of that, already–enough).

      I really had hoped the writers had learned from last series’ mistakes but obviously, they haven’t. This episode was so disturbing to me on many levels.

      What a waste of a great character and ultimately, a great actor . . . because I am with you, I can’t see how the writers could explain any of this satisfactorily and Lucas will have to go, one way or another.

      Like

    • Yeah — an extremely disturbing death scene. He can be so gentle as his will for his victim is consummated. Frightening — a side of Armitage that we haven’t really seen before.

      Like

      • I have speculated Richard could make a wonderful Jekyll and Hyde. In a number of past incarnations, a lot of special effects–prosthetics and makeup–were utilized. But he could make the transformation without the trickery, I do believe. and make it all the more chilling.

        Like

  16. Khandy, blame your cold on the series!

    I’m going to try something out here. On reflection, it was clear that the Lucas of S7 was beset by a few demons. The reaction of Lucas of S8 carried this further with his mental destruction (almost) at the hands of Sarah. Perhaps the direction of S9, the split personality is not so far-fetched, after all. Perhaps there is a dramatic trajectory. Not expecting agreement, because I don’t know what to think/feel. Just trying it on for size….

    I certainly wanted the Lucas of the Dean episode, the Lucas vis-a-vis Connie, the Lucas as Commander in Chief of the final S7 ep. It’s all the actor’s fault. He’s just too engaging, whatever the character.

    Like

    • I don’t want to ride this horse too hard, but if you’ve ever seen someone who experiences violence psychosis it’s not that far from Armitage’s performance in the last scene.

      There’s one other thing which has been bugging me for awhile, which I wonder whether it has any role to play in our thinking about this series, or it was just a sop to the audience regarding Ros’s death, and that’s the fact of Nicholas Blake being a part of Nightingale. Is this supposed to influence our viewpoint somehow?

      Like

      • Thank you for this reminder of Nicolas Blake. At the beginning I thought Nightingale would turn up again at any moment, but so far it did not.
        Now I am expecting Harry to be not what he seems.
        What makes me believe that is his strange reaction to Ruth’s observing Lucas. I immediately had the impression he did not want some things to come out. He in the past was not very protective or defensive of Lucas, so why should he be now?
        Lucas reference to Harries’ not so clean background with East Germany also seems to be a hint in that direction. Though that also might just be a smokescreen invented by Lucas.

        Like

        • This has been on my mind recently because the Spooks 8 DVDs shipped to me and I’ve been watching them on and off. Now that we know that Blake was a Nightingale member, we almost have to view those episodes differently — but the light it casts on 8 suggests that there’s no way that the writers had this planned ahead of time — because it’s actually Nicolas Blake that gives Harry the first information about Nightingale. And why would he do that?

          Before I started rewatching series 8, I was thinking this was just like Harry murdering Kachimov in 7.2 — “blood for blood.” But it seems so gratuitous. Series 9 doesn’t really need that info — we’d have been happy without it.

          Like

          • Looking backwards from Spooks 9.1 Nicolas Blake tipping Harry off in the direction of Nightingale also made me wonder about his reasons. He could have kept quiet and MI5 would have known nothing at all. But I agree with you, I think it was not planned in the script of series 8.
            I tried to explain it to myself with the similarity to crime scenes. There it is in a very high percentage the culprit himself who tips off the police, so he normally is the first under suspicion. That strangely did not occur to Harry at all.
            But I also must add that Nicolas Blake was one of my favorite politicians ;o) Honest, trustworthy, …
            But still I wonder, when even such a nice politician is not trustworthy, we also know Lucas is not trustworthy, why should Harry be?

            Like

            • The problem is that, as has been said repeatedly, if Harry gets killed, the show dies. He may not be fully ethical, but he of all these characters has most to be who he appears to be, or the whole thing falls apart.

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              • I absolutely agree with you, without Harry the show dies. – Hopefully the confirmation for Spooks 10 was not just made up to spook us.
                But perhaps a little black spot in Harry’s past might do quite well. Perhaps something which did not come out immediately, but still simmers, something like @Nietzsche suggests from North Ireland? Something Harry went to great deals of trouble to conceal, just like in a parallel way Lucas tried to conceal John.
                I also keep wondering about Ruth’s role in the play. She at least was the first at the crime scene – to continue my old paranoid idea concerning Nicholas Blake.
                Malcolm also made me suspicious for calling Lucas John and then answering “Old habits…”. What kind of old habits does he refer to here?
                You see, my suspicions absolutely go crazy and I am not brave enough to read spoilers for the last two episodes ;o)

                Like

                • True — and it’s as a consequence of the info Ruth gives us about Nicholas that Harry murders him.

                  I’m liking Ruth more and more as the real villain of this piece. All the clues are there, but we’re not focused on them because it is just mousy little Ruth! If it doesn’t turn out to be this, there’ll be some great AU fanfics.

                  I can’t read the spoilers, either, and just like you, it’s not virtue, but fear. Only two more weeks.

                  Like

        • Harry was in Northern Ireland for wome time IIRC. Many people became guilty there, on all sides, in all organisations and agencies.

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        • I’ve reached the point where I do feel like Mulder from the X-Files: “Trust no one.” And I increasingly don’t trust Sir Harry Pearce. His behavior seems inconsistent and yes, strange and suspicious.

          Like

          • Your mentioning of “Trust no one” just put the image of John Porter from “Strike Back” 2 in my mind, when he warns the diamond dealer.
            I am absolutely guilty of mixing SB with Spooks in my mind. I even imagined JP’s prison dreams were just a logic consequence, as he spent 8 years in a Russian prison, till I remembered that was Lucas.

            Like

            • Well, remember, CDoart, Richard has said he has dreamed JP’s dreams. I wonder if they–the characters– ever start overlapping a bit in his subconscious?

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    • Perhaps you are right, fitzg. I feel so bewildered and blindsided right now. Who knows?

      And yes, I do blame it on Mr. Armitage. He’s made me care for and love Lucas just as I did Guy. And I don’t want to lose him either.

      Like

      • yeah, it’s starting to be a really serious problem, the level of concern I am developing for all of these characters.

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        • I tell myself it isn’t sensible or rational for a grown woman to invest so much energy and emotion and thought into these characters, but–I do. I truly, genuinely care about them.

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  17. Am I the only one who finds Ruth’s spyware plant on Lucas’ (the Secion D leader for pete’s sake) keyboard as inappropriate? Her rational that she would “need proof” for Harry didn’t ring true. I wonder why she didn’t approach Harry first and then, if he didn’t believe her, tell him that she would gather proof.

    I realize that some of this is that Ruth believes she has lost some of her power and influence with Harry because of the change in their personal situation, but still. I find it disturbing.

    I rewatched the episode with Elizaveta, Lucas’ tenderness and affection with her. It is so much more than he displays with Maya.

    I thought this episode was one of the best this season although I think there was a large continuity error with the long back coat suddenly becoming the short black coat. I will watch on Thursday again to see for sure.

    And Finally, for now, there was an implied “personality split” both in appearance and I swear I heard a sound of ripping at the very end….on the up side, and I will always try to find one, he never looked more gorgeous. And he looked like John Mulligan on the doorstep of Malcolm’s house (the first visit).

    Excellent job servetus, as always.

    Like

    • Thanks, Ann Marie.

      I originally had the coat issue in this post, but the third time I watched the episode I noticed that he has the short coat on under the long coat all the way through the beginning of the episode. At about 39:00 he takes it off and you only have the short item underneath, but if you look at the episode all the way through the beginning he has both on. I have no idea why.

      In the beginning of the show (series 2 and 3) they frequently have spooks watching each other, so that didn’t bother me.

      Thanks for affirming the point about the personality split — originally I felt like that was an interpretive stretch.

      Like

  18. I haven’t had a chance to read any comments yet, but wow! killer post!

    Like

  19. I am seriously getting annoyed with people who constantly accuse RAs fans of only liking his looks and not realisng he is a useless actor.I have just pointed out to somebody on the Viki Frost blog who said at much that only one person mentioned his looks. It is like we are clueless fangirls. Now I am not highly educated no degree I’m just a hard working Nurse but I’m not a clueless airhead either.

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    • Vicky’s opinion annoys me no end.

      [Edited as above. Thanks for your understanding. — Servetus]

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      • I think I’ve clearly established my view of Vicky at this point.

        [edited as above. Thanks for your understanding. — Servetus]

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        • I get it, heeheehee!

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          • *evil chuckle” Thought you would. After Khandy’s post, I had to tiptoe back over to Miz Frosty Knicker’s blog and post a polite, erudite and extremely non-air-headed comment in support of Khandy’s assertion RA fans aren’t all airheads.

            Like

    • Khandy,

      You are a gem and don’t you forget it. My mother was a hard-working practical nurse and my dad was a hard-working farmer who never graduated from high school. But bless ’em, they had common sense and I think I inherited some of that. But common sense isn’t so common, sometimes, it seems.

      No offense to Dr. Servetus or anyone else here who is in academia (and I am somebody who DOES have a degree, a former teacher with a life-long love of learning), “highly educated” does not, sadly, always equate “wise and discerning.”

      I’ve had one or two college professors who were complete idiots (again, complete apologies to Dr. S, who is so NOT a complete idiot, but a wise, discerning, and compassionate professor) . . .

      Apparently being an RA fan lumps us all into one category in the not-so-discerning eyes of some thick-headed, high-minded individuals: looks-obsessed, empty-headed, overly-hormonal females without an intelligent thought amongst us.

      Wrong!!!

      And I hardly think a useless actor worth only his tall, dark and handsome looks, would have been chosen by a very fine director like Peter Jackson to play a beloved literary character who also happens to be a nearly 200-year-old hairy dwarf.

      Personally, methinks there’s more than a spot of jealousy there and they just can’t admit it.

      Like

      • Angie, I am going to be leaving you a note on DF soon.

        regarding your above post…at my age, overly hormonal may NIT be wrong! 🙂

        Like

        • Will be on the lookout, Ann Marie.

          Well, since I have reached the big 5-0 I am fast approaching “The Change” so my hormones are pretty goofy at the moment, I have to confess *sigh* . . . guess I was thinking more of folks bashing us for acting like hormonal teens. *cough* Come to think of it, I might be guilty of that ever so often . . .

          Like

          • As I move into my 40s I’ve become truly bothered by how much my mood seems governed by things that demonstrably hormonal. Am I anything more than my blood composition on any given day?

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      • A PhD is no guarantee against stupidity; both of my parents stopped their education at a high school diploma and I consider them both much smarter than me. A doctorate is just a diploma that says you spent an awful lot of time learning detailed knowledge and methods of study as regards a particular discipline of scholarly inquiry. It should more likely be seen as a sign of either persistence or an ability to concentrate very hard on a really small problem. Plenty of smart people don’t have degrees and plenty of silly people do. And there are plenty of things that I am stupid about. I just don’t advertise them on this blog. 🙂

        I will admit that one motivation behind writing this blog was to try to say that artistry as compelling as Armitage’s moves well beyond the level of fangrrrl ecstasies. yes, it causes that, but that’s a relatively tiny manifestation of the whole effect.

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    • Khandy: Please don’t say you’re not highly educated. You have a lot of extremely specialized knowledge that is of crucial importance to the people you interact with. I can read a Latin treatise — but I’ve never, ever saved anyone’s life.

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      • I should also add I have enormous respect for nurses, since not only my mom, but my eldest sister and eldest niece were/are all nurses–a sort of family tradition.

        It’s a tough and demanding profession but as Servetus says, you can literally save a life. Or in the case of the nurses with whom we dealt during those harrowing last days of my mother’s life, provide us with the support we needed to make some very hard decisions. I will always be grateful for their sensitivity to what we were going through.

        And it’s something I just couldn’t do–I couldn’t deal with it emotionally. I have a hard enough time doing obit interviews and having loved ones crying over the phone as they talk to me. That’s why I went in a different direction . . .

        Like

  20. Lucas, Loyalty binds me…I am waiting.

    “I was MI-5 before we married, I was MI-5 when married, and I am Mi-5 now.”

    Here’s what goes through my head when I can’t sleep: (and no I haven’t been reading anything)
    What if the 8 years in a Russian prison were actually payback/punishment, maybe from Harry, as revenge is a dish best served cold, for something Lucas (I refuse to call him anything else as I love that name and that character) did?

    The tenderness of the “murder” Lucas perpetrated on Danielle was stunning. As she exsanguinated, he held her(she didn’t die alone) and strangely had some sense of contact and possibly comfort. I am going to watch it again but that was my initial read.

    Even if Ruth had spyware on Lucas’ keyboard, he was using the keyboard in the archives, wouldn’t that make a difference as to what she would know about his doings and what she wouldn’t?

    If RA and the Hobbit people knew about his casting as far back as November as I’ve seen mentioned here then I ask, can we PLEASE hire them to work in the U.S. government because they can keep a secret better than the folks there now. 🙂

    Sorry for the random thoughts-

    It’s a long time until Monday night. Sigh.

    Like

    • On Lucas — Frenz and I have been grousing for eons that Lucas’s desire to talk to Harry at the end of S7 is cut off completely by Harry’s kidnapping. Is it really plausible that conversation never took place? There is definitely still plenty of rage at Harry, witness the end of 9.2, but we don’t know about what.

      Still disturbed by gentleness of murder scene, here.

      And totally agree with you about his secrecy about the Hobbit, assuming the person “all but cast” last November was Mr. Armitage. I can imagine he did that because of not wanting to be inundated with even more attention before absolutely necessary. If only our government officials thought this way …

      It’s already Wednesday. 🙂

      Like

  21. Ah, you can’t sleep either, Ann Marie? I woke up with various FMS twinges, both sharp and dull, and thoughts of Lucas haunting me. Asking myself once again, why do I care so darned much about a fictional character?

    But I do. So very, very much. And it is such a long time until Monday night and I so want to watch–and I so don’t.

    Like

    • Angie,
      I rarely have trouble sleeping but I did tonight (last night?) As you wrote,”I so want to watch–and I so don’t.” Exactly.

      I think what’s bothering me is that we are thinking, caring, rational people who need to make sense of the world and our place in it. I can’t get my head around so much of this series. Has everything that has gone before (series 7 and 8) simply been for naught? Again, my dear Mr. A has caused me to love a character that I don’t understand in spite of myself (my love affair with Sir Guy was the first), a character capable of great heroism,nobility, and tenderness (again like Sir Guy) and yet, unspeakable cruelty and ruthlessness. A hand of pain encased in a velvet glove…

      The writers need to make this right for us. Come here Lucas, I’ll make it all better….

      Like

      • “hand of pain” — great line.

        One thing that will definitely happen if this series ends unsatisfactorily is that there’ll be plenty of no holds barred fanfic written and since the canon will be over, fantasy will take free reign — I hope …

        Like

  22. Oh, Ann Marie, Insomnia and I are really tight. Wish it weren’t so . . . our weather has been quite unsettled and it’s playing merry havoc with my body.

    Your above post is so true. We need to make sense of things and it’s not happening for us in this series and it’s so very frustrating.
    I loved (love–he’s NOT dead) Sir Guy. I love Lucas. “A hand of pain encased in a velvet glove.” Apt, and beautiful.

    So much to be resolved in just two eps. Lucas, my sofa is always here for you, along with sweet Harry with his jumpers and his ability to whip up great snacks, and Guy and John P to snipe at each other and Guy to swipe my eye makeup, and a short, hairy fellow who will likely soon appear in my den, too . . . you’ll live on, no matter what TPTB may do to you. We’ve loved you into being, after all.

    Like

    • If you need an amateur armchair therapist to consult on their treatment, count me in. 🙂

      Like

    • Guy swipes your eye makeup?! Have you heard the few opening lines of Adam Lambert’s song “If I had you”? It IS the Guy of Gisborne theme song….black kohl liner and everything!

      Like

      • Ann Marie,

        I love Adam Lambert! My co-admin at our site has seen him twice live and met him last time around, and she’s in Hawaii right now for his acoustic concert (lucky bint!)

        I immediately thought of Guy when I first heard that song.
        Guy does love to snoop through my packages from Sephora and check out the liner and mascara in particular. Knowing how they play up those gorgeous peepers of his. *grin*

        Like

  23. Of course Guy’s death never happened. I closed my eyes. If a tree falls…and I’m re-writing the Lucas story. If the BBC scriptors can do it, why not?

    It appears that your home is becoming somewhat over-populated, Angie. I’ll send a care package – don’t want you running out of food. And all those chaps require frequent fuelling.

    Like

    • I’d say given the many personality changes Lucas has undergone and the way key plot devices have a way of disappearing and so forth, we have every right to re-write his story–and make it a better one.

      Fitzg, a care package would be most appreciated by the lads. I thought the three dogs went through a lot of food! But it’s important to me the Characters have a safe, comfortable place to crash–and all the animals have quite taken to them. And can we blame them?

      Like

      • Angie, you have a point with all of Lucas’ personality issues this series, you may need a hotel to house them all…

        aww…Harry’s jumpers….sigh…

        Like

        • Harry’s going to start wearing lovely knitted scarves soon, now that it’s almost November and it actually will FEEL like it this weekend–at night, anyway.

          Actually, we have a spare house–the old farmhouse is empty–so if necessary, we can spread everyone out . . .

          Like

  24. Courage, ma soeur! The Hairy Dwarf probably eats less. Maybe.

    The animals have taken to Gisborne?! :O

    Like

    • I don’t know. In _The Hobbit_, the dwarves are always grumbling about their lack of food.

      Like

    • Gisborne is a big ol’ pussycat, fitzg. He is quite taken with the three-legged tuxedo cat with the Hitler mustache. Likes Thumper’s spirit and the fact she is just a little bit evil . . .

      He absolutely loves the dogs. He and John Porter get out and romp with them like a couple of school boys.

      Like

  25. Angie, my pussycat is nicknamed Gisborne, because he’s mean, ill-mannered and evil-minded. Someone had to take him in – gets cold here in winter.

    Like

  26. […] physical grief over Lucas’s death. After we’ve seen the convulsive emotion of 9.4 and 9.6, at a level at which we can’t credit Lucas but only John, we can accept that John’s […]

    Like

  27. […] all of 9.6, this scene is too seriously reminiscent of Strike Back (in this case, John Porter’s prison […]

    Like

  28. […] I discussed this death extensively here. […]

    Like

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