Sobbing in spite of it all [Spoilers for all of Spooks 9!]

Same disclaimers as before. My caps. Something you might weigh in on in your comments is how soon I can unprotect the password protected posts. This one is still password protected, but not for long, I think. It seems that all of series 9 will be easily available soon for those who want to see it before they read about it — I haven’t had the impression that anyone who really wanted to see it on the slide in the last two months was left in the cold — but if you have a different impression, I’d like to know. I’m grateful for not having had it ruined for me and I’d like to be considerate.

Also, this post is just a commentary on this episode. I’ve got at least two ideas for analyses of scenes in series 9 as I rewatch during the too little that is to come. Feel free to make comments on your reaction to the series as a whole but keep in mind I will also probably write a post about that.

Our last glimpse of him, whoever he was. “I am nothing,” John / Lucas (Richard Armitage) replies, when asked by Harry whether he’s Lucas or John at the end of Spooks 9.8. A chilling statement then mirrored by his suicide.

Ready? O – KAY.

OMG. That was a really exciting ending, with all kinds of painful moments throughout, along with stuff that made me think about life, though as usual, I had problems with the script, which was a fairly serious disappointment. Sorry, Spooks fans: I thought the last two scripts were better, but this one leaves me saying pactum non servatur. I did not get the answers I wanted from it in anything except vague allusions, and I was frustrated by the way that the John Bateman story was closed off by the writers. I could have imagined scenarios or explanations that I would have been persuaded by, to believe in the real villainy of John, or the real tragedy of his suicide, but they didn’t really emerge. We are left with a less-than-credibly written John, and a Lucas –a character we all admired– who’s been destroyed in the process, and for what? I also hated, hated, hated, some of the specific dialogue choices, i.e., the words that were chosen, as I did last week: “I believe in you. We all do!” This week: “The service didn’t do this to me. I was bad before I went in.” Armitage has to struggle to get the word “bad” out in that sentence, and it can’t be purely out of emotion. Delivering a line that bad has to hurt his throat. Servetus squirms. Sometimes they get it so right — so how can they get it so wrong, at a decisive moment? This script is absolutely nowhere near as good as it could have been, given all the various little details from past episodes that it simply drops from consideration in order to fit itself into an hour. However, it was a really exciting episode, and the plots twists engaged me (see below), though I found a decisive one implausible. Also: I again feel confirmed in my decision not to read news coverage or spoilers — if I’d have read the Daily Mail piece published this week I’d have been very angry, I think. So please, if any Spooks actors are reading this: don’t give in to the temptation to say anything at all about the plot of the episodes in interviews beyond vague generalities. It makes it all much more fun for people like me, even if it drives other people crazy. But people who are really dying for spoilers will ferret them out any way — that is part of the fun for them. You don’t need to spread them all over the airwaves.

But Mr. Armitage can’t be serious in that piece, can he? Mr. “I Am Nothing” did go splat, yes? That was a scream from below and a car alarm going off, albeit it a little too quickly? Yes, they tried to make it ambiguous, as if he were running away, and of course none of the reactions of section D have to mean anything, but he did jump off that building??!? I’m not wrong about that??!? Wikipedia says [already!!] that he committed suicide by jumping off the building, though the article also gives the Lucas North legend’s father from 7.6 to John Bateman, which one suspects is highly improbable. (Though I really hope — counterintuitively, since surviving after a jump off that building would require an intervention on the scale of John 11 — that he can be in some episodes of Spooks 10. Maybe if 10 starts filming early? And The Hobbit doesn’t start filming in February? Pretty please? Of course that would require a level of plot implausibility well beyond the problems we’ve already discussed.)

So, the remarks to the Daily Mail must have been all a feint, one last attempt to insist he didn’t know how it ended, as Mr. Armitage must have known by the time the interview was conducted that no matter how that scene finished, even if they didn’t film his death on camera directly, that he’d be starting to film The Hobbit by the time production for Spooks 10 cranked up. Or maybe they filmed two endings so no one would be able to say with certainty? And we got this one? (As a side note: I think that fans now have to concede that anything he says about his professional plans in print has got to be highly questionable until he’s actually observed on the set of something or other. His career is accelerating to the point of being unpredictable from the stance of print media that appear months after statements are made.) The point for Spooks fans is that the big plot cliffhanger this time is about Harry, and we’re being signaled that Peter Firth is finally going to get some more meaningful, extended plot lines? More power to him, I have to say, and that’s something that might actually keep me watching sub rosa. Of course, it seems to me that if the show finally reveals the decisive information about Harry, it will have to end at that point, and I wonder if this isn’t a signal to us that the tenth season of Spooks will be the last. Home Secretary’s suggestion to Harry at the end that he should start preparing for life after MI-5 is intended as prophetic, I imagine.

After I had downloaded this episode, my fingers definitely paused when I went to click on the icon to open the file. On the one hand I wanted to know; on the other, as with spoilers, I knew that I could never retreat from knowing, and I was heavily aware that that approximately an hour after I made that decisive click, the season, and most likely the story of Lucas North, would be over. In the end I watched because I wasn’t prepared not to know how the writers thought this story should end. It hurt. Of course, I feel stupid for being so hopeful; I’ll never again be able to pray that there is some explanation for this terrible backstory for Lucas. I had, a little bit, the Rousseau problem: even as I knew that John was doing terrible things for which he’d never be able to exculpate himself, a part of me was hoping that he’d find a way to escape Section D and making everything work out for himself and Maya in a faraway land with no extradition treaty to the UK. I sure didn’t want him to kill himself. Watching suicides, even implied ones, is extremely difficult for me.

In sum, I feel a combination of grief and relief. Grief over everything we’ve learned about Lucas this season, and relief that it’s now over. These all night writing sessions on Mondays were always a struggle after a long day, and Tuesday is an equally long day, and with all of my students now needing more personal contact as they head into their research papers, as usual, November is a month where there’s little time for distraction of any kind. I’ve got a bunch of papers to give back tomorrow, so we’ll see how long I’ve got energy to write tonight.

Oh, yeah. And despite my problems with the script, I was again moved by Mr. Armitage’s performance, although the script was giving him much less room for ambiguity than he usually is able to exploit, particularly in that awful final scene, in which the script saddles the viewer with the wrong kind of ambiguity. The resolution of the Lucas story with its definitive moments meant that he was left with no choice but to signal his emotions clearly. Throughout the season, I felt that the incorporation of John as part of Lucas gave Armitage a great deal more range for his acting choices, and that capacity was fully realized tonight, in an episode in which Lucas North was definitely dead and only recognizable as occasional vestiges on the margins of Armitage’s performances. As a consequence, I often had tears in my eyes while watching, and some landed on my cheeks.

Seriously, dude, if you had to leave Spooks this season, you really gave it everything you could before you left. We may not have liked the plot line(s) you got, and you may have been taken aback by them as well, but we got to see you show a lot more of your stuff, of the variety of your toolkit, than we have before in a single role.

Mr. Armitage: As Lucas, you made us believe in you so much that we didn’t want to accept that John could be real, and even as John, you were so subtle in many of your moves that I, at least, was also mourning the death of an alter ego that I had grown to empathize with despite everything as the final credits rolled.


The episode:

For reasons of time I’ve going to eschew plot summary here and get to my remarks. Presumably if you care you know what happened in 9.8.

This episode seems to have the following purposes: (a) to introduce a wacky new character to Section D for next season — someone with “nothing to lose” — oh goody, something to look forward to!; (b) to tie up the “who is Lucas?” plotline; (c) to resolve or at least address Harry and Ruth’s problems. As a result we are asked to believe that the matters of (d) who Sophia was working for before joining Section D, and any loyalty she might feel to Lucas; (e) the significance of Nicholas Blake’s unmasking as a Nightingale member; (f) how the Chinese know about what happened in Senegal and why they picked Lucas North as the weak length to be targeted in order to obtain Albany; and probably some other stuff I am forgetting, are resolved in the places where the plots left them.

I’ll lay aside the fact that it hardly seems likely that in a moment of severe crisis, Harry would take the time to recruit someone new into Section D. I know that when one spook dies, s/he has to be replaced, or else there’s no one to carry out the plotlines. I can live with that, I suppose; Vincent Regan has an intriguing scar on the lower left side of his mouth, and it works on the series-level mood of giving people second chances. He gets scripted confusingly: first he tells everyone not to think of the character being played by Richard Armitage as either Lucas North or John Bateman, then he pins Vaughn’s murder on Bateman. But there are much bigger problems here.

Albany: The biggest non-weapon ever to motivate a Spooks script. At least they didn’t put any typos in the graphic this time.

As viewers, we’re also supposed to believe that something like Albany is actually possible, and incredibly dangerous, and I’m sorry to have to disappoint the writers, but this was a serious problem for me — a nerve agent that works on different racial or ethnic groups based on race-based genetic differences? Come on. I’m pretty sure every freshman at my university learns the current general scientific consensus that race is a social concept, not a biological one, and has been shown repeatedly to have no significant reflection at the level of human DNA. And even if there were such a thing and it worked the way the script says it should, it’s absolutely excluded that it would be useful in situations like either Rwanda or Yugoslavia, in which the conflicts were cultural, and one of the mystifying aspects of the situations to outsiders was that there were no discernable racial differences, and often no statistically significant phenotypical differences, between the warring groups. Hutus look pretty much like Tutsis. Yes, that’s right: the Bosniaks, Serbs, Macedonians and Croats are all members of the same South Slav genetic group; it’s the same with the Tutsi and the Hutu, both of which groups are Bantus. If there were significant exploitable differences in the 0.01% of DNA that differs between particular ethnic groups that actually do differ slightly on the genetic level, it seems unlikely they’d specifically be susceptible to attack by nerve agents. We pretty much all have the same nerves in the good old human race. So, if you actually believed, once you heard the description of what Albany was, that any serious government would expend money and resources obtaining this item, I’ve got some extremely valuable real estate in Florida I’d like to sell you. There is, in my opinion, no way that the Russians would have been scared by this technology, or that the Chinese secret services would make any effort to try to track this nonsense item down, or that the Home Secretary,  presumably also no under-educated chap himself, could possibly believe this nonsense. Are UK viewers this under-informed? Maybe not, but the spooks all seem to be, including “walking encyclopedia” Ruth. In short: the bomb of the week, in my opinion, fizzles all over the scriptwriters. Unless it’s their intention that we realize immediately that the engine for all of the action of the episode is meaningless. (See, this is what you get for reading a blogger who teaches modern history. All your illusions will be destroyed.) But if that’s the case, the end of the episode, with Harry under threat for betraying state secrets that are nonsense, verges on incomprehensibility.

Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) holds the one personal object Dmitri and Beth found in Lucas’s apartment: an old edition of Blake. The second reference to Blake in the entire series remains a non-clue as far as I can tell. This feels like material for one of those wildly speculative academic essays in which one or two random indices are taken as evidence for an entire superstructure of theory. I imagine I’ll write one on this topic when I finish reading Peter Ackroyd, if I ever do.

The biggest problem for the script at large, though, is “who is Lucas,” since this question has taken up significant pieces of 9.3, 9.4, 9.6, and 9.7. 9.8 is correspondingly devoted mostly to resolving this strand of the narrative. From the perspective of having seen series 9 and then this final episode, more precisely, the question for the viewer is whether it’s in general plausible that Lucas / John would behave as he did throughout the series for the reasons given in the script, which are now as transparent to us as they ever will be, and then in particular, whether it’s plausible that Lucas / John would commit suicide in 9.8 due to the outcomes of those reasons. (I leave out the plausibility of the suicide here because it’s treated in the section on Armitage’s performance.) For me this was one of the biggest gaffes in the script for the final episode: it’s like after insisting to us for the entire series that he would behave in this way for the reason stated, and not giving us any substantiating information — seriously: one scene from before Senegal that explains what it is about his youthful experiences with Maya that allows the mature John Bateman (unfortunate surname; I almost typed Jason Bateman) to see her as the lodestar that’s going to restore everything in his universe to its rightful place would have been sufficient! One memory flashback with a fuzzy lens resolution! Is that too much to ask in an episode with so many other flashbacks that we wonder whether the character is indeed going mad? — the script tries to elude the question with this Harry voiceover at the very beginning with the epic tension music in the background, and repeated flashbacks to events in 7.1 and to flashbacks of flashbacks that Lucas experienced in 8.4. I found the Harry voiceover at the beginning just hokey. This is an off and on problem with the Spooks script — if they haven’t delivered enough evidence to make us believe something ahead of an important plot development they have a character assert it, and it’s annoying: it’s like Harry is telling the viewer: Lucas is crazy! Believe this!

“This man,” Harry’s voiceover informs Section D, and the viewer, in Spooks 9.8, “was our colleague and friend. But have no illusions. He is now our enemy.” Well, okay then.

I didn’t especially like the flashbacks, either, either as explanations of Lucas’s motivation or as clues to his state of mind. From the perspective of the end of the episode, the 7.1 flashbacks to various moments from the scene of Lucas’s return to the West is supposed to tell us that Lucas / John is very angry at Harry and does not trust him, and the 8.4 flashback is supposed to tell us that Lucas already tried to kill himself once while in prison and might do so again rather than going back for any reason. But they could also have flashed back to other moments in the Harry / Lucas story, and it’s not clear why these are the decisive ones. And still, even now, this script implies that the conversation about the reasons for Lucas / John’s imprisonment that Lucas appears to seek in 7.8 either can never have taken place or had such an unsatisfactory outcome that John forgets all of the respect that Lucas developed for Harry over the years — sufficient enough that Lucas is willing to risk going back to Russia in 7.7 solely at Harry’s request.

“What if there was one time in your life when everything made sense?” John (Richard Armitage) asks Ruth in response to her question about why he’s doing all this, in Spooks 9.8. “What wouldn’t you do to go back?”

All this is aggravating for two reasons. The first is that the plot development of this series all goes in the direction of making Lucas / John look implausibly immature. It seems like all of the backstory we’re given about John seems to suggest that he’d have every reason to do anything he could to maintain his identity at Lucas, as opposed to putting it at risk for someone who is no more than a distant memory. This is a fundamental rhetorical mistake I warn my students about every semester — in the construction of the first draft of a project, it’s entirely possible that once you look in detail at the reasons you advance in support of your argument, you’ll come to a different view on the subject. When that happens — when your evidence starts signaling the opposite conclusion to the one you’re moving toward — you have to either rewrite the essay in support of your new argument or come up with really strong responses to the counterarguments that have emerged in your writing. All of the elements of the John backstory as we are shown them work equally well as explanations for why John would try to remain Lucas as they would for why he would try to recapture John. Given the experiences of Lucas / John, I have difficulty accepting that a character who’s experienced this much suffering in his life — not just the Russian prison years, and torture, but also the loss of his identity as a young man — can really be quite so naive as to believe that recovering Maya is just going to make everything in his life make sense again. I haven’t suffered half as much as Lucas has in my life, and even I know that! As Lucas, John has had repeated reminders that you can’t go back — to work, or to your ex-wife, or even to the possessions you thought were yours, for instance — as if nothing had changed in the interval. Somehow he realizes he has to give up his vision of Elizaveta as his partner — to whom he declares in 7.2 that he thought of her through his entire almost-decade of imprisonment in Russia — but he can’t see that Maya is equally illusory? Lucas’s statement at the beginning of 9.1 notwithstanding (“don’t even get me started on blondes”), it is simply not plausible that the Sarah Caulfield debacle or imprisonment-related PTSD is causing such apparent forgetfulness of everything the character knows.

The mysterious Maya (Laila Rouass) looks off the balcony of the Banley Hotel in Spooks 9.8. Yup, she ended up being pretty much the reason for everything, the real 42.

I’ve groused before about how in order to have any possibility of getting a redeemed John, we need to accept a stupid Lucas, and so it also frustrates me that we end up with both John and Lucas unredeemed and both of them stupid as well. I’ve talked about all of Lucas’s apparent stupidities in 9.4 and afterwards so won’t repeat that. Laying aside that presumably Lucas has also had a standard university education and would have known, and/or realized after Ruth’s explanation, that the principle behind Albany is bunk — suspending disbelief and allowing ourselves to accept that this weapon is something everyone should care about obtaining — why all that focus on the painting of the Battle of Trafalgar, for instance, if Lucas / John really has no idea of what Albany is (maybe that scene says something to veteran Spooks viewers; it gave me no clue at all)? Is it really plausible he’d steal it without trying to figure all this out? As specifically relates to this episode: why on earth would it never occur to John that if Section D had located Maya, they wouldn’t also have tried to communicate with her and draw her onto their side? That if she’s the innocent person she appears to be, indeed, as we see below, the person John believes to her to be, that she wouldn’t also have some sympathy for what MI-5 would be likely to say to her? That they wouldn’t have tried at least to give her a tracker? Again, with regard to this episode: what possible reason does John have to believe that Maya would simply leave everything behind her — friends, family, and a highly skilled career she’s invested years of her life in and seems to enjoy — just to get back together with him? I didn’t even believe that she was going to jump back into his arms so quickly, and now I am supposed to accept that she’ll give up her whole life for him? (Technically speaking, here we would have needed a flashback scene that would explain what about John was so fascinating from Maya’s perspective. As a professional woman myself this really grated. My main college boyfriend happens to be a perennial (eighteen-year) doctoral student at the university where I teach, but if he were suddenly to pop up out of the blue after a decade and half of silence and propose that we flee to a non-specified location, I would hardly simply nod my head in acquiescence, and I’m much more dissatisfied with my life at present than Maya appears to be from this script.) The result is that we have a John who, like Lucas in 9.4, appears regularly not to think in his operational algorithm past whatever the current dilemma is. Maybe that was the point of making so many of his ops go badly this series. He’s supposed to seem like he has ADD.

Of course, Lucas is not the only short-sighted person in this episode, and the death of the runner underlines this for me. They couldn’t see from this distance that the runner didn’t have Lucas’s build? It was just supposed to be a distraction. I have to give Lucas the benefit of the doubt on this one, I am afraid.

Then I find myself wondering why the episode even needs the whole arc related to the removal of Albany from the church. The reason Harry gives can’t be true, as he undercuts it by gassing Dmitri and Beth. Presumably, assuming Harry knows that Albany is worthless, if he has an Albany replica handy in the safe of his office, for crying out loud, why can’t it be a replica that is exactly the same as the one hidden in the church? Is this all for the purpose of convincing, then faking out, Alec, Dmitri, and Beth? Is the point to demonstrate that even when Harry appears to be acting nobly, he’s using people as chess pieces? Why couldn’t he just have insisted that no one go with him to pick up Albany, or only Alec? Similarly, why tell the Home Secretary in such a pointed way that he gave up Albany? This at least feels like it could be laying down plot clues for next season — an attempt to get rid of this rather wimpy Home Secretary who’s been so annoying the whole season?

“You know liars, too,” Alec White (Vincent Regan) accuses Harry in Spooks 9.8. … “Lucas or Albany, Harry. You might not be able to save them both.”

Before this turns into one long screed about plot problems, I want to say emphatically that there were intriguing things about this episode (and some of them would open up good opportunities for fanfic that was basically canon-oriented). One of them arises when Alec notes that Harry must have realized that Lucas was lying. At the very least (Harry doesn’t know, apparently, that Albany is the target until Malcolm tells him — and that info seems to be the entire plot-driven reason for Malcolm’s reappearance in this series), this opinion from Alec sheds new light on Harry’s willingness to give Lucas his sidearm back in 9.7 — as if he had to let Lucas take all the necessary rope to hang himself. In a way, then, that decision turns out to demonstrate that what Lucas had always suspected about himself in relationship to Harry was true — that Lucas was always more important as a chess piece (cf. 9.3, where Kai and the female Chinese scientist say this about themselves) than as a person. It justifies his gnashing of teeth in 7.8, and demonstrates ahead of time, without pointing at itself, what John will conclude in the final scene of the episode. This is quite subtle, I think.

At the same time, however, given our retrospective awareness that Harry knows from the beginning that Albany is worthless, we also have to consider the possibility that at least at the beginning of the episode he is still using Ruth as a chess piece. She gets the same information as the other spooks, and, unusually, she goes on the op with them — is Harry assuming that Dmitri and Beth will get faked out and thus by sending Ruth along, he is making an attempt to funnel information to John?

At the beginning of a flashback, Lucas North (Richard Armitage) remembers not having been important enough to justify the commission of treason in Spooks 9.8.

Another interesting parallel in the script is drawn, I feel, between Harry and Lucas. Alec establishes at roughly twenty-one minutes in that Lucas’s pursuit of Albany is a “crime of passion.” We see a look of disgust and frustration from Harry in response — but what is it, exactly, that Harry is doing when he decides to sacrifice Albany to save Ruth? Is that a cockeyed moral decision, as the script seems to paint it through Ruth’s dialogue, the needs of the one over the needs of the many? — or also an act of passion? As Lucas asks: “Committing treason to save just one life?” The ironic question points both to their equivalence as actors (“maybe you aren’t so cold after all, Harry”) as well as to Harry’s unwillingness to have done the same to Lucas, raising echoes of Harry’s statement to Ruth in 9.7. Indeed, John’s actions seem to stem, given the flashbacks, from his feeling of betrayal that Harry didn’t intervene to get him out of prison more quickly.

At 38 minutes or so, when John and Maya have escaped the hotel and are switching vehicles, the episode just becomes one long litany of pain. If you loved Lucas, and even now you were rooting for John, or hoping that Maya turned out to be everything he had dreamed, you’re at this point plunged into a vat of sorrow so deep it will take weeks for you to recover if that happens at all. I feel like we’re once again in that situation where the scriptwriters only give us the decisive information seconds before someone has to act on it — I think this scene is trying to tell us that John loves Maya because she’s good. (Ho-hum, and boy did we ever find this out way too late, but let’s again suspend some disbelief here so I can keep writing.) She turns out, on some level perhaps, to be the clean thing he wanted, the thing that he could love without reservation as a sort of souvenir of a temps perdu, but he’s been revealed to her as a liar — from the beginning. As a dirty thing. His fate is sealed, it seems, as she says, “you’re a liar, John. That’s all you ever do.” She enumerates all the things we’ve become aware of, all the things she ostensibly can’t live with, and then she puts the icing on the cake: “And do you know how I knew it was true?” she asks him, hurling out her question as a challenge. “Because for the first time, you made sense.” I felt like I was being stabbed in the heart. I didn’t want this to happen to John. He thinks that she is the only thing that can make his life cohere; and yet it turns out that what ultimately explains his life is murder, lies, betrayal — and she is precisely the one to tell him; she makes his life cohere before his eyes, but in the worst possible way. I don’t want to see this. But oh, it’s a script move potentially worthy of Greek tragedy. This scene, implausible as the characters’ motivations remain, they got right on the dialogue level.

John (Richard Armitage) reacts as Maya (Laila Rouass) tells him that the narrative of his acts as a liar and a murderer is the missing piece that makes him make sense to her in Spooks 9.8. Ms. Rouass finally shakes off the extreme torpor of her performances all the way through this series to offer us something convincing.

In the end, it turns out, John was right about Maya: she can’t love someone who would bomb an embassy and kill innocent people, or at least she’s disturbed by it enough to switch sides immediately. (Another suspect characterization from the scriptwriters, in my opinion. Maybe the point is supposed to be that she’s fickle?) She tells him that he only believes that they love each other, because he is a liar. And then, in the end, his perfect beautiful thing has betrayed him; she’s got a tracker on (see implausibility notes above). And then she’s dead. And then abandoned by the side of the road. (See notes on Armitage’s performance below.) And then we have an exceedingly disturbing scene in which no one — neither Alec, nor Beth, nor Dmitri, nor Harry — seems in the least saddened by the fact that by pulling her into their operation, they’ve caused Maya’s death. Their cruelty in this setting, in contrast to John’s bare emotion, makes them look almost as bad as he does. Maya, like Ruth, is a pawn, has been one this whole time; Maya, unlike Ruth, has no really powerful man to watch out from her and storm in to save her. Lucas / John has just been manipulated the whole time — as he says in the earlier scene. By Vaughn, by Harry. The realization that the only option he has left is to die must hit him hard, but it seems obvious from the point at which he does not get on that helicopter.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Ruth is chastising Harry for giving up Albany to save her. She says, in a really powerful script move: “it was my turn,” by which she means, to make the sacrifices that MI-5 officers have to make. Something tells me that even this rather amazing gesture isn’t going to get that wedding ring onto her finger. Neither, even though she affirms it, is his decision to go after Lucas alone. So on the remaining matter, the question of the RuthxHarry ship, it is refusing to sail — this time because of her moral rigidity.

Fantastic tiny scene from Peter Firth when Harry calls his daughter from the car, and seems to be telling her implicitly to look after her brother — what plays so affectingly are the alternating expressions of pain and joy on Firth’s face:

In the end, Lucas pretends to take his revenge. The spooks locate and defuse the non-existent bomb, and then we have this devasting showdown. See below.

What a beautiful skyline to have as a backdrop against which to die.

Mr. Armitage’s performance:

Some more nice Action Armitage, including body-slinging. One wonders whether Mr. Armitage realized how much time he’d spend in his career carrying around struggling women. I wonder whether there’s a casting office somewhere where I can sign up to be the thrashing actress carried around by Armitage on any given week.

Again, for reasons of time — it’s now half past 4 a.m. — I can’t discuss every single Armitage appearance. Surely there will be time for that in the weeks to come (grin). Some things pop out at me, and they are mostly matters that establish the continuity of this performance with the previous ones, sometimes over amazingly long periods of time. The total effect, and it’s really admirable, is to establish the continuity of the John of this episode, who has now declared Lucas North dead and sees him as in total discontinuity with that personality, with elements of both the Lucas and the John of previous episodes and even series.

Even as he remembers various unsettling encounters with Vaughn / Michael, John (Richard Armitage) assures Maya (Laila Rouass) that he was manipulated too — but that as soon as he does one little thing, they’ll escape, in Spooks 9.8.

The first is the need that John reveals to maintain control, not just over the operation, but also over Maya. This is an ongoing dilemma for the John / Lucas character throughout this series — the need to be in charge when things are spiraling out of control. Armitage sets us up for this quite nicely with the reassuring energy of his statements to Maya in the Banley Hotel near the beginning of the episode.

Another continuity that I particularly liked was the maintenance of the particular mood and timbre of the character’s “anger / desperation” voice, which I discussed in regard to its appearance in 9.5, if you need links to examples to listen to for purposes of comparison. Mr. Armitage spends a significant amount of time at this pitch here, when he’s actually lying and not in despair at all, as he calls in, allegedly to get picked up, actually to generate the kidnapping of Ruth. (Seems fairly odd insofar as it’s so unusual for Ruth to leave the Grid during an operation, but I’m done pointing out implausibilities at this point.) He picks it up again perfectly when he lures the spooks out of their cars so that he can kidnap Ruth.

Given that the script forces us to accept the huge immaturity of Lucas / John, I do think that Armitage does really well at playing a person who as John seems significantly younger than Lucas / John’s presumably almost forty years. This begins, in particular, in the scene with Ruth. The script helps him out a lot in terms of making his moral calculus much more simplistic than Lucas’s was, and at this point, that decision is still believable, but expressionally, Armitage moves the scene along quite effectively, so that just as you note the awkward black and whiteness of the lines, you see the aggressive killer emerging.

In response to Ruth’s questions about the death of the runner, there’s still a brief microexpression at 0:07 of sorrow or disturbance:

but it eventually disappears in favor of the looks of conviction. As he moves toward telling Ruth that he’s killed (0:14) and saved lives (along with the 8.4 flashbacks), by 0:19 he’s much more self-assured. As the camera moves to show John’s whole body (Ruth persists in calling him Lucas), we see the stepped back equilibrium pose (see remarks in next paragraph) at 0:31. At 0:40 we have that “shaking off emotion” expression on his forehead that says whatever he’s thinking is so painful that he almost has to shake his head to get rid of it. At 0:46 he’s leaning in, as he asks her what she wouldn’t do to go back, but the leaning in is restrained a bit by his self-assurance: this is a rhetorical question to her (as if everyone would make his choices — another sort of typically adolescent argumentative move that the script gives him) and he’s not asking in pain or even in curiosity. At 0:58 he responds negatively to Ruth’s quotation of the Russian proverb, as if the increasingly adult John is now refusing to be condescended to, so that his sincerity language at 1:03, when he assures Ruth he hopes that Harry will give him Albany already reads as less naive, more rhetorical, more adult. So we believe the cold-bloodedness that emerges in response to Ruth’s query as to whether he would really kill her (this really backfires on her — she is trying to get him to think that he couldn’t kill her, and in fact he has no hesitation in naming a method) at 1:09 with nothing more than a single blink — nothing else in his face moves one tiny little bit as a response to that.

What’s interesting at this point is that it’s almost as if John is shocked at his own expression of adulthood, because though at 1:18 he says without difficult that he’d kill Ruth via a bullet to the back of the head, he then has to stand up and move away from her, as if he’s either moving away from the thought of killing her, or moving away from the person who he fears will become his victim in order not to risk having his intentions altered by her or sympathizing with her too much. Look at the body language at 1:34, as Ruth asks him what will happen if the Chinese use Albany and whether he can live with it. “I don’t care,” is his response, but everything in his body language insists that that response is a lie.

It’s the visceral response of the avoidant late adolescent to information he doesn’t want to believe, at 1:35 and following, with a great deal of headshaking, but it’s immediately followed by triumph of adrenaline in the fight or flight reflex, as John says, “I don’t care” at 1:38, whirling to take a stance that dares Ruth to defy him.

At this point Ruth insists on telling him as John tries to avoiding hearing what she has to say — and again we see this sort of weird age transition. He shakes his head, still avoidant, twice (1:47 and then 1:50, where his “be quiet” moves up into despair / anger range), then insists she doesn’t know what he’s done (1:55) — an authoritative way of saying “you will not get under my skin by claiming to understand me,” and grabs her forcefully and sits her down at 1:58. It’s almost like the smack we hear when his hands hit her upper arms provide another break for him, because we are back down to the adolescent earnestness with which the scene began, and again the gentleness with which Lucas / John watched Ortiz die in 9.6. At 2:06, the first real anguish we’ve seen — over his own fate —

“I’ve been so careful,” he says with such sadness that we wonder if it’s not so much the obligations of Lucas that he wants to get out from under as just the obligation to stop lying that makes a return to his past so attractive. Just not to be pretending all the time — is that what’s on his horizon?

Again, we’ve got a lot of Armitage equilibrium here, and it’s still a bit odd for me to see it deployed on behalf of such a dishonest character, in such a desperate way — I reference my remarks last week about how the interrogation scene with Harry jettisons and ignites all of the characterization Armitage developed in two years of giving us Lucas — so that we no longer are on solid ground with respect to lying vs truth-telling when we watch Armitage in this episode. In retrospect that scene from last week now reads as a much more aggressive emplotment of that gestural language, which maybe should have been my clue that John was lying, as opposed to the relaxed, gentle exploitation of it here. The latter makes a very eerie effect: the killer, the monster, if you will, who is defined only by his own irrational drives to recapture an illusory past, is reporting quite earnestly on the reasons for his actions even as he reports with equal sincerity and apparently no inhibition about the method he’ll use to kill Ruth, and his hope (sincere? not? here we see the erosion of the equilibrium posture as a signifier that was initiated last week) that Harry will give him Albany (implication: so he won’t have to hurt Ruth).

Very impressive, Mr. Armitage. I suspect that a lot of commentators are going to have loved the final scene on the rooftop, but this scene, along with the one where you refuse to be Lucas North again despite Ruth’s entreaties and then sedate her (cap above), where, at the end, you make John’s hands oh-so-gentle as he attempts to reassure Ruth after he’s shot her with the sedative, are going to be my favorites over the long term, I think. This is part of why I end up mourning the death of John, I think — because his extreme brutality is shielded with this soft, often adolescent gestural language. Because we see again the boy who, under duress, assumed the identity of Lucas North and became so hard; because of the contradictions you built into both those characters: good Lucas, who was hard; bad John, who was always so sweet.

Again, in terms of continuities, I’ve been asking repeatedly if Armitage’s performances are too emotional in certain settings and have been on the cusp with regards to this problem, eventually concluding that there were issues of personality disintegration involved that might have justified these choices. In the end, here, I see one big upside to this increased emotionality leading up to this episode, insofar as it makes room for John’s visceral, 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 emotion could be this open, this uncontrolled, this boundless, this uncivilized. (Thank you, unknown American director who taught that drama class.)

When you watch the clip above, try to lower your perception of what is in my opinion a too obtrusive editing in of flashbacks — they’re trying to build up an aural crescendo that reflects a situation in John’s mind that then in turn matches the decibel level of his scream at 1:26. He again goes a long way in this sequence: from jubilation at 0:04, to shock at 0:09, to attempt at self-reassurance at 0:16 (he can’t think he’s really reassuring her — this discourse is all for him, what he needs to believe, how he is lying to himself by this point); realization of the gravity of the situation at 0:21, and then his gathering grief after 0:45; rage at 1:26, and the mournful keening from 1:30 to the end of the clip. I found the end really, really painful to watch.

Again on the continuity question, did anyone notice how much the cadence, tone, rhythm, pitch, etc., of John’s voice as he informs Harry about the bombing here:

resemble the same things in Lucas’s speech in 7.2, as Lucas turns Arkady Kachimov? Clip of latter events here, for reference. I wonder if Armitage watched 7.2 again to achieve that effect, or if his characterization of Lucas and John was that thoroughgoing so that similarity is effortless?

And then the final scene, another extremely long one for the Spooks scenic vocabulary, I find. Not enough time to say what deserves to be said, but I find that Armitage manages to make John seem even younger in this scene than he has previously. (You’d never believe that Armitage is 39 in this scene.)

First, the wind unintentionally gives him the more boyish-looking center part to his haircut, though, oh, oh, oh, that front part is getting sparse.

The script helps him a lot. I have mixed feelings here because for me this was one of those moments when the scriptwriters completely failed, both on the plausibility level (we still have at best an inkling of why it is that John loved Maya, and thus trashed the entire Lucas North legend he’d lived with so successfully even, apparently, under torture, and now stands on the verge of murdering Harry) and on the dialogue level. “I loved her,” John says to Harry. Well, yeah, thanks for making John say the obvious here, scriptwriters. If we hadn’t noticed that by now, you certainly do clear some things up for us.

On the upside, interestingly, the script makes John unable to articulate exactly what he thinks is going to happen at the beginning of the scene. We’re supposed to think it’s Harry’s death, but John can’t respond in the affirmative when Harry asks him whether what’s supposed to happen is his own death. The tempo of the scene only really takes off, though, when Armitage’s acting shifts into high gear over against the script. In my opinion this happens at the point where John is denied his triumph of making Harry a traitor, just like him. When John says, “So it was for nothing,” Armitage gives him a very subtle, almost quiet version of the anger / despair voice we’ve been discussing all series — and it’s this vocal cue that moves us back into the more childlike John who can’t ever reason to the end of his own chain of possible consequences.

“She died for nothing,” John says, almost as if he can’t believe it, in Spooks 9.8.

And now the script, which sucks — for crying out loud, all we want is an intelligible reason to explain why it was that John perpetrayed the Dakar embassy bombing — totally implodes for several lines. What a piss-poor explanation for all of this sorrow, expressed in lousy, LOUSY, lousy dialogue. “Vaughn gave me the chance to be someone.” This was about self-importance? “To do something.” It was about boredom? Bombing as self-fulfillment? In eight hours of this script we’ve been given no information that makes any of this explanation intelligible. And then Harry says, “I wish you had met me first.” Oh yeah, because manipulating people for Queen and country would have solved both of these personality problems in John? And John, who still can’t release himself from what now seems like a need to be manipulated, says, “So do I.” In response to Harry’s rapprochement, John insists he can’t go back to prison. Well, this is at least believable given all the flashbacks we’ve seen so far.

For me, up to this point, it’s entirely the tone of voice that saves the ending of this episode and thus the series from utter catastrophe — from the point at which Lucas realizes that it was for nothing until his insistence that he can’t go to prison, the pitch of Armitage’s voice is steadily rising, making John seem more and more like the child the script makes him out to be. There’s a brief moment of cogency where John talks about how Harry will explain all this (the job is a machine that chews people up and spits them out — boy do I sympathize), but he appears to want to deny Harry even that consolation. At this point, the script has the potential to achieve transcendence, but what happens? It forces John back into his childish position with a childish vocabulary. “The service didn’t do this to me,” John says, “I was bad before I went in.” Yes, we get it, that was the thrust of all of 9.7, but WHY??? Peer pressure?? Really?? That made you a murderer? Armitage saves all this with the extreme high pitch of his voice here, which makes his emotion not so decontextualized, but it has to have been hard to navigate all of this given the lack of information we have and the weird dialogue.

And I can’t unclench my teeth; I just have to sit there, and accept it. The script gave us no real information to understand why John would kill himself except by allusions to experiences he had as Lucas and via the ongoing “because I loved Maya and now she’s dead and for nothing” explanation. Nothing at all. The only reason I buy this ending at all in the least is Armitage’s performance. He makes me believe, for the several minutes of this scene, in the possibility that John was always a boy who lacked the necessary pieces to become a man — that his idealism about Maya could legitimately fuel the idealism that we end up assigning to Lucas North — and that a man who can love something he believes to be pure with all of this fury, despite the moral flip side of that coin, is worthy of my sorrow when he dies.

At the end, then, John asks Harry, politely, to turn around, and then screams at him not to call him Lucas. Guilt much? Harry asks what he’s to call him: “Are you John the murderer? Or are you Lucas? The man who gave up so many years to help so many people, saved so many lives?” And then he challenges John to shoot him.

And Armitage’s pitch drops back into Lucas range, and he says, “I’m nothing.” And just like that, he’s gone. I still can’t move. Seconds pass before I can rummage around to find something to use to wipe the tears from my cheeks.

Clothing Armitage:

The nicest clothing in this episode, in opinion, was our farewell view of Lucas’s tattoos, this time in unusually clear resolution:

One assumes we see him primarily from the rear in this scene so he doesn’t have to have the Blake tattoo applied. I can imagine Mr. Armitage is happy to be rid of this piece of Lucas’s costume, although one wonders how he will dress himself in future, if he resorts mostly to clothes from his roles. I can’t imagine that Thorin Oakenshield will have all that many costumes that the eligible bachelor can easily wear in public. Sadly, I can’t imagine that Thorin Oakenshield will appear topless in The Hobbit, either. Are Mr. Armitage’s beefcake days over?

And then there’s John’s uniform, the black hoodie. Casual. I have to say that although Belstaff made Lucas look excellent, one of the things that makes John sympathetic to me is his down-market wardrobe.

The eternal adolescent, who doesn’t want to dress like an adult. But I like it when an Armitage character is dressed like someone I might know. Quite irrationally, I then think I might run into him somewhere and we could strike up a conversation.


“Where’s Vaughn?” Yimou (Hi Ching) asks John Bateman (Richard Armitage), in Spooks 9.8. Doesn’t Hi Ching use his eyes to the most amazing effect in this exchange? I’m sure there’s some stereotyping of Asians going on this scene and in the series generally, but here that look is just amazing.

Lucas North (Richard Armitage) opens the seal on the computer that houses Albany in Spooks 9.8. As always, Armitage is handy with all kinds of tools.

Thumb shot with dirty fingernails. I wonder what kind of thumbs Thorin Oakenshield will have.

So long, Lucas. I will miss you — and everything you, and John Bateman, could have been.

~ by Servetus on November 9, 2010.

196 Responses to “Sobbing in spite of it all [Spoilers for all of Spooks 9!]”

  1. Says password is “spooks0” but it was “spooks9” like usual. Thought I’d mention that if you’d missed it. And now I shall read the post and then comment again! 🙂


  2. Richard’s performance is the only thing that allowed me to make it through this ep. The writing had decent moments, but in other places, as you say, it was appallingly bad. I have become weary of Spooks tendency to state the obvious over and over again. Hated Harry’s voice-over at the beginning.

    I truly felt sorry for John Bateman and mourned the loss of the Lucas I thought I knew and definitely loved. Richard once again became the chameleon and appeared to be that young, unformed, rather naive man that was John Bateman. Nope, no way he seemed to be pushing 40 in those moments.

    So very much unanswered! Just as I feared would be the case. Destruction of a great character–OK, yes, RA was going to be leaving, but to completely dismantle Lucas North and then turn him into a suicide (and that’s a very difficult thing for me to deal with, too) at the end, an end not with a bang, but a whimper . . . I am still upset with the writers and I am not sure I will ever quite get over that.

    I mourn.


    • In the end, I thought that John’s line to Ruth (“you underestimate yourself”) was a actually a statement about himself. Yes, he was vicious, but only the service of his goal. He didn’t actually bomb the train station, kill Harry, etc., etc. He had an ethic, even if it was a very immature one.


      • I can’t really see John as totally evil. Weak and immature, yes, and capable of doing bad things–but the fact he didn’t actually kill anybody and really didn’t intend for the guy in the hood to get killed when used as a decoy showed me he did indeed have some sort of moral compass.


        • In the end, the way Armitage played it, I concluded, he was like a teenager, essentially. Made for a strong performance but a lousy explanation.


  3. Just bring on the deep-fat fryer. Diving in head-first.

    Ah Lucas! Character assassination.


  4. Are the clips in your post supposed to work? They don’t for me.

    A few random thoughts:

    1) I finally have an answer to a question that I had from series 8…when SC has a gun to Lucas’ head (and yes, that is the only thing I will ever call him, I’ve decided) and he says, “Take me with you” almost as a plea and a prayer. Why? Now I get it, the burden of the lies, having to be careful, the day to day stress and possibly agony of living as something that in your core you acknowledge you are not. Now I get it. Assuming anybody saw this train wreck of series 9 coming in series 8.

    Did Lucas ever really intend to kill Ruth? He came awfully prepared to do anything else but kill her. I love that he called the “doggedly brilliant bitch” on her skills as she calls to him to allow her to talk to Lucas.

    Your post here also made me realize that giving Albany to the Chinese was quite possibly Lucas’ revenge on Harry for the lengthy imprisonment, his attempt to lure Harry into treason. It is interesting that he expects that he has Harry so figured out that Harry won’t go for it and when Harry agrees to deliver Albany Lucas realizes that is so out of character for Harry that he is wary of yet another Harry manipulation.

    If Albany were real, would Harry have swapped it for Ruth?

    Maya, no passion, should have been pushed out the window when she said she missed “Michael”. Except for Lucas’ grief, the keening wail twinged the heart, the death of Maya was a welcome relief and just another tool for the team to use against Lucas.

    Someone on the Spooks forum posted a comment that I liked (not quoted here): that Lucas killed himself to end the pain, to save the team and others from himself, that it really was, in a way, heroic to end the killer, thus saving others.

    Finally, for now, on e of the best scenes was Ruth and Lucas and her terror when he injected her. She really believed that he had killed her and yet there was a gentleness with her (like with Ortiz) that makes me love him while he’s doing something awful.

    At least I know now. Plot holes the size of the Grand Canyon, good Lord. The script has the sophistication of an elementary school reading primer. See Jane. See Jane run. See Lucas. See Lucas flashback. Again. And Again. See no other parts of the story make sense. Good Lord!


    • If that happens again, reload the page. They are all working.

      I found myself wondering what Lucas was expecting to get if not the real Albany? I mean, yes, you assume you will be tricked, but at the same time, why engage in the subterfuge if you don’t believe you will get your goal.


    • I assumed the “take me with you” line in 8:6 to be the the words of a man who was empty, broken, disillusioned and generally tired of life.

      In 8:4 he said that he “hadn’t felt anything in years”. Which suggests that the affair with Sarah was just a vain attempt to feel something, to reconnect with some kind of emotion and fill the void. An expression of the emptiness of his life, I suppose.

      This is kind of foreshadowed by Elizabetha’s remark in Season 7 about how he’s “cold inside”.

      To have the only person who he tried to feel something for then turn traitor and try to kill him to boot was probably just more than he could take. He didn’t seem worried at the prospect of her shooting him.

      Its both heartbreaking and interesting to think that Lucas may have been passively suicidal all along. Not for the reasons bought out in Season 9, but just because of the life he lived and what his experiences had done to him.

      Taking this into account, I almost think that “reconnecting” with Maya wasn’t an attempt to return to the past, as much as a last, desperate attempt to regain some semblance of humanity on Lucas part. Just to find something to live for.


      • Hello and welcome. It was kind of you to leave these comments. My father died about a week ago and I am just getting back to nitty gritty. I will allow them to load, but please keep in mind that these posts were the result of almost liveblogging (I wrote them the night after the episode aired) eleven years ago now. I wrote about parts of the episodes again later (so my opinion may have changed), but I really can’t comment on them now as it’s been at least six years since I watched any of Spooks.


  5. Servetus I really love your teasing out of the differences here between idealistic/adolescent John and good/hard Lucas. And I agree, this ending was unsatisfactory on so many levels but it was still riveting, with some stunning scenes between RA and PF and (especially) NW. Hopefully the ‘Armitage is wooden’ brigade will be silenced for once and for all.

    For me Lucas really did die in the last episode and I just didn’t feel I had the same connection with John, so I’d done my grieving. There were some heart-stoppingly sad moments in this episode but John’s pinning everything on his relationship with Maya has been almost unbearably frustrating and doom-laden. Was he massively, tragically in denial or just plain callous? (When you write about Maya being ‘the clean thing he wanted’ I can’t help thinking of Guy’s equally wacky hope that Marian would ‘wash away his sins’.)

    And what if Maya hadn’t died in that car – my mind kept flashing forward to a very nasty scene of a deeply unstable John effectively kidnapping the woman he ’loves’. That would’ve reduced him to the level of any other abusive and controlling male.

    But clever of the writers to have him trying to stop her bleeding wound – a nice ironic echo of him releasing the pressure on Daniella’s neck.

    The jump off the building was a cheat and left me with no sense of closure – and a nagging sense that any suicidal man with a gun in his hand would surely have turned it on himself instead. A cop-out too far by Kudos.

    Re the thinning hair – glad you mentioned it. I’ve been feeling so cheap for being distracted by his bald spot in the scene in the park in episode 8, when he slumped on the ground. Thank heavens Thorin wears a wig.


    • Feefa,

      The one guy over at Frost’s blog still insists on making snide remarks about RA–“2 x 4” Richard Armitage, I do believe. I don’t think that particular individual would know real acting talent if it hit him in the face like a plank. Come to think of it, I would rather like to hit him in the face with a 2 x 4! Still a bit emotional, folks . . .


    • I think one thing that the fantastic interactions between Armitage and NW or PF point out in comparison to the less than stellar scenes with Laila Rouass is the calibre of acting among the series regulars. They really are fully fledged characterizations with histories and tensions and everything that makes up real relationships. Not that Maya could have really amanged that with the script, but if she had the same expressional repertoire as Armitage she could at least have signaled depper feelings.

      Nice point about the pressure.

      I hated the jump off the building. I kind of wanted to see Harry forced to kill him, assuming he had to die.

      And yes, poor Mr. Armitage. He’s always had the widow’s peaks, of course, but his hair seems to be suffering of late. I wonder if the dying is having a negative effect in addition to the travails of time.


      • I am bit obessed with the hair too. I thought I was the only one. I can’t work it out. But I guess it is endearing to know that he isn’t completely “perfect.” He did that Radio Web Cast and when he got up to hug a fan it was pretty prominent in the back. And as @Sev pointed out in the front as well.


        • The hair really doesn’t worry me at all. Sean Connery is a good example of a handsome man losing his hair and weathering the passage of the time fantastically well! And Richard has those eyes, and all his other gorgeous features as well as his huge talent, so a few strands is neither hair nor there! 🙂


          • I think I may have shared this with you before, Milly, but my darling husband once said with a slight crinkle of his brow, “You know, this may sound odd coming from a heterosexual male–but I think Sean Connery has gotten better looking over the years since playing Bond.” *grin* And I totally agree with him.

            (Of course, the man has the Good Taste Gene. Look who he married . . .)

            I honestly hated some of the toupees they stuck on Connery over the years and prefer him with his white and balding pate and wonderful dark brows . . . I think RA–thinning hair or no–will continue to age very well.


        • it’s part of being almost 40, I think 🙂 Every morning when I get in the car and look in the rear view mirror before backing out I catch this glimpse of a strand of hair (we’ll call it “lighter” and not “gray”) along the part of my hair that reminds me I am no longer a spring chicken.


          • Oh, lordie, as I already mentioned, God is turning my hair platinum blonde now but not quickly enough so I have to help it along. What makes me go eek in the rearview mirror is those “stray eyebrow hairs” that keep popping out.
            Strayed all the way down to my chin . . . *sigh*


      • Great point, Servetus, about the seasoned and established actors opposite RA versus someone like LR who has just stepped into a new role.

        Maya’s part was written very shoddily in my opinion, but LR’s more limited range as an actor only further under-minded the entire relationship, making it seem so thoroughly one-sided on John’s part and downright inexplicable.

        I keep thinking once he moves into movie roles opposite perhaps more skilled and trained actors (not that he hasn’t played opposite some fine talents on television, mind you), he is really going to be a force to be reckoned with.

        Picture him opposite someone like Cate Blanchett, or working with Helen Mirren . . . or Sir Sean! Oh, the possibilities . . .


        • This is so true. He’s said himself that he doesn’t really want to do a one man show and that characters get most interesting when they are shown in contact with others — but you can really see that when he’s working with quality, he gets better, as in N&S. Hardly surprising, and presumably he also has that effect on the other actors.


          • Yep, he shines even more when he’s acting opposite some worthwhile talent and I am sure his co-stars feel the same about him. Lucy G. certainly found him a great screen partner and really seemed to grow as an actress from their time together.

            One of the reasons it was easy for me to pair Layla with John in Truce was the fact I really found their scenes together very effective and I could see the possibilities of a relationship—if Layla had been played by a lesser actress than JM, I am not sure I would have gone in that direction. (I think Shelley is a good actress, too, and there was definite chemistry, but the whole honeytrap thing just turned me off, I confess.)


            • This is a good comparison because the camera in SB shows us a lot of glances between Layla and Porter, esp in 1.3. In the end, Laila Rouass didn’t end up with much less screen time or lines than Paloma Baeza, but Paloma could say so much with her eyes.


              • Yeah, Paloma as Elizaveta may have acted cold and standoffish with Lucas, but there was expression in her eyes; she was responding to him, even if not in the way he wanted. I felt she was THERE.


      • I think the receding hair line is accentuated when his fringe is long and heavily dyed and waxed as it becomes a lump which exposes any bare patches. We saw his hair line clearly a couple of years ago in the promo interviews for Spooks 7 when he was sporting Guy’s hair extensions and I’m not sure it has got dramatically worse since then.

        A year in New Zealand might allow him to grow out all the dye and discover what his hair colour is really doing as he hits the milestone next August. We may get a more mature hair style on his return from Middle Earth.


        • Looking back at screen caps from those interviews (oh, Back When Spooks Was Good!) I think you are right, Pam–the hairline hasn’t changed that noticeably. I don’t think he is in danger of the dreaded Donald Trump comb-over just yet (thank heavens, not that I think he would ever adopt such a ridiculous style).

          I think it would be good for his hair to go natural for a while (says the woman who doctors up her white/grey/dirty blonde roots every six weeks). And it will be interesting to see what hair style our Mr. A adopts after his foray as Thorin.

          I wonder if he really starts going grey in the next few years if he’ll let it show. I suppose it depends on the roles he is playing. That’s one thing I admire about George Clooney–he’s let the grey show and seems to be aging naturally (although he has nowhere near the beautiful skin of our Mr. A).


          • I must admit I was thinking of Gorgeous George when I wrote the comment, Angie. Oh yes and my lovely husband who is grey, well, nearly white and getting rather thin on top but is the most handsome fifty year old I know (much more handsome than when he was 25!)


            • I also thought Cary Grant looked stunning as an older man when his hair went white, and there is something about him that reminds me of RA.

              My husband is 51 and in desperate need of a haircut from his ladywife, but I like to remind him lots of men would be thrilled to still have such an abundant head of thick, wavy hair–he’s got a little bald spot starting to show in the back, but that’s it.

              Both his parents had lovely silver/white hair. He’s starting to go grey and I look forward to seeing him with an equally distinguished head of hair.

              I also think he’s gotten better looking as he’s gotten older. He was such a string bean as a young man–six feet and 140 pounds on a big frame–and now he’s filled out and grown into his own strong-featured face. Yeah, he reminds me in certain ways of an actor I like quite a lot. *grin*


          • yeah, too much sun on that face. Mr. Armitage in contrast either had a youth spent out of the sunlight or has been a diligent user of sunscreen 🙂


            • I wonder if anyone ever called him “Casper the Friendly Ghost” as they did m when he was younger? LOL I could never tan satisfactorily and got some nasty burns in my youth. Now I am glad I didn’t sun worship and stuck with sun screen and hats as it has paid off. Living pale is the best revenge . . .


        • Good point about the hair products accentuating the problem when the hair is not lying in its intended position.

          I also want to say that I don’t find it ugly or anything. He has very fine hair and he’s going to have these issues as it thins. It’s kind of cute.


          • It’s one of those things that is common to men and makes him seem a little more accessible, I think–and I find it rather endearing, too.


      • Someone recently suggested that pretty much all of Lucas relationships in Spooks are just an attempt to fulfill expectations or fill a void.
        Even when he’s going into that Russian lapdancing club he doesn’t seem comfortable, and just plays along because its expected of him. Ahem.

        Not to suggest his character is meant to be gay, but I think its more the case that his experiences have broken him so much that he’s just- numb to everything.

        I also seriously wonder if that Russian guy didn’t sexually assault him in jail. It does seem to be hinted at a couple of times.

        He carries on with Sarah Cauldwell because (let’s face it) she threw herself at him, and he just wants to feel something again. He says as much in 8:4 if I recall.
        She didn’t see the relationship in equal terms, viewing him as a trophy boyfriend that she was entitled to.

        With Maya, I think it was a setup all along. Vaughan threw her into his path, and he believed he HAD to feel something for her because of their past relationship. I think he even says at one point that he reminded him of Maya so he would have something to lose.


  6. I haven’t finished reading all of your post servetus. Must go to work, though I could spend days just thinking about the last episode.

    Spooks has brought characters back from the dead before by the way, I seem to remember that Tom Quinn seemed to die at the end of one season, and amazingly was back the next. So I’m suspicious that we didn’t actually see a body hit the ground, and considering this was in the midst of a population dense London, no chaos on the ground.

    I was very disappointed in Lucas’ suicide. The build up to that moment wasn’t there for me at all, despite RA’s wonderful and touching performance. (I can’t call him John Bateman because it doesn’t fit him, yet Lucas North fits both the character we came to know in Season 7, and the physical presence of Richard Armitage as this character. What a perfect character name for this man, Lucas North. What a poor choice was/is John Bateman). Yes, to quote the Sherriff of Nottingham, “All this for a woman!”. A woman not worthy of this love and passion, and I don’t think only because of the badly drawn character of Maya, but I hate to say, the acting skills of Miss Rouass. At no point did I believe there was a love relationship with John and Maya in the past, and certainly not in this present. I hate to say I was actually relieved when her character was killed off. The saddest scene for me, that broke my heart completely, was the scene by the two cars when she basically tells John/Lucas their love is all an illusion, all in his mind, and that she doesn’t share his passion. (So what is she doing with this man she really barely knows!). RA’s performance and his heartbreak can be felt so deeply. It broke my heart. (I also wonder if a man so in love would leave the dead body of his loved one on the side of the road – I don’t think so!). Well, I could go on, but I’m sure you’ll all be thankful if I don’t.

    I was disappointed that they didn’t use Blake and the fact the only personal thing they found in Lucas’ house was the book of Blake poetry (was it poetry, couldn’t really tell). Why introduce this, and then have it lead to nothing. At least if John/Lucas’ actions were based on his philosophical and political beliefs…well…more interesting I think. Yes, like you servetus, like many others, I just can’t buy that an intelligent, educated, man, as is clear from Season 7 and 8, like Lucas North (or John as Lucas) could ever be this naive and clueless. The reasons for his attempted suicide in Season 8 were entirely plausible, and very sad. The reasons for this final suicide are not! (But, as I said, I’m suspicious that we didn’t see a body).

    I also don’t understand how we are to fully believe that John Bateman is a cold blooded killer worthy of our hatred,when he’s a killer that doesn’t kill in this episode. He can’t bring himself to kill Ruth, the bomb is fake, and he doesn’t kill Harry!

    (I’m one of the few people here who like Ruth, indeed one of my favorite Spook characters,and I loved the scenes between her and Lucas. (Between Richard Armitage and Nicola Walker – great acting from both.) Even as he was, or seemed to be, about to kill her, they were talking like old friends. I truly believed that Ruth cared for this man and was trying to make him believe it, for his sake as well as hers.)

    As for the actors, someone on Twitter said that more than one ending was filmed,so if that’s the case, entirely plausible that the actors wouldn’t know, didn’t know, until last night, what ending was used.

    At the end, it seemed the writers ran out of time. Yes, and the flashbacks, and the photos of Elisaveta, and Sarah, all of that really didn’t serve the plot at all. Here was Episode 8 and they had to finish it, and so they threw a bunch of ideas in a bowl, and stirred it up, and came up with some cobbled together ending and a dramatic finish.

    I’ll go and mourn my Lucas now and dream of Middle-earth Dwarves.


    • Too much crammed into too little time. The flashbacks only served to make me pine for the Lucas and the Spooks of s7, when it still seemed like genuinely top-notch TV.

      I loved the scene between Lucas/John and Ruth (I love Nicola Walker; I just haven’t always cared what they have done with her character and the whole UST with Harry and Ruth has run its course, I think).
      It was wonderfully acted and very moving and, yes, I could sense much more of Ruth’s genuine concern for the colleague she had served with than I could ever recognize of the passion Lucas/John and Maya supposedly shared. It left a real lump in my throat, unlike what was supposed to be the big climactic rooftop scene, which just pissed me off, frankly.

      Oh, Lucas. What have they done to tyou . . .


    • Hello Musa, I totally agree with you. I also cannot believe a death I do not really see. So in my opinion there is space left for Lucas / John to turn up again.
      Lucas / John did know the house, chose this meeting place and had time to prepare his ‘exit’. So I would only believe his death if I really saw it. But nothing of that kind.
      As you also mention, Lucas / John is a killer who does not kill in this episode, which is a very good point in my opinion to mark his character development.


      • CDoart I love your point about the house, the apartment building, being a place Lucas/John knew well. Allegedly because the real Lucas lived there. Did he live there when he first took over Lucas identity, he must have then! Great point. Yes, exactly we didn’t see the body and we only have the team’s reaction to tell us he’s dead.Spooks producers leaving the door open. Also what happened to the 20 million or whatever the amount the Chinese gave him for Albany? No explanation.


        • Unfortunately I interpreted the not seen money transfer in a way that Lucas / John after Mayas death no longer had any interest in preparing or funding a future for himself.
          I even doubt that the Chinese gave him the money. There is no struggle or discussion about why Lucas / John does not enter the helicopter.
          Furthermore, I see Lucas / John’s reaction to Harry ‘killing’ Maya as absolutely nonsensical. This plotline does not work for me at all. Lucas / John is said to have at one time been an experienced field agent. I cannot see even a hint of it in his coping with Vaughan or the Chinese, though he is quite clever in his setting up the trap and abduction of Ruth.
          Harry starts here in 9.8 at a late point in the process to show his appreciation for Lucas’ past work and efforts. Much too late in my opinion. But still, I see Lucas / John wanting his approval. The turn to try and corrupt Harry is so stupid for me, as Lucas / John must be aware from his own experiences in the service for MI-5 how flexible the moral of a spook is.


          • I think once he lost Maya, he really lost interest in his future, because he had pinned all his hopes and dreams on her.

            And yes, Harry was far too late in relating to Lucas/John how much he valued and appreciated what he had done. Too little, too late. But poor Lucas/John still seemed to crave his approval–it just made me want to cry even more.

            It all boils down to the script making Lucas/John look stupid, naive, gullible and a total numpty over an undeserving woman. Good job destroying this character, folks. Good, good job.


            • Yes, I totally agree with you. They made Lucas / John look ridiculous and that I cannot forgive the scriptwriters. Even as a baddy he should have been scripted as a clever and intelligent person, even with all his personal problems and identity crisis. In 7.2 he was able to remember a fleeting glimpse of a computer screen after hours. That is not something one can normally do.


              • Exactly, it’s as if he lost his reason and lost his intellect in the process. At least make him consistently intelligent and savvy and sharp when he shifts from “good” to “bad” . . . make it a little more plausible, please.


            • I can totally see from my vantage point as a teacher that some people are heavily motivated by the withholding of approval. I try not to teach that way consciously, as this was a dynamic of my childhood, but it can be very effective and I know people who do it very consciously.


          • Agree that Lucas’ decision not get in the helicopter was the first step toward a suicidal showdown.

            And nice point about the need for approval — that should have been obvious to Harry in 9.2 or whatever when Lucas takes over as Section D. On the other hand, I know from personal experience that for some people, no matter how much approval you give them, it’s not enough. It all points to Harry not knowing Lucas very well, which is SO odd. Vetting procedures must include a psychological profile, as we learn in 9.7.


            • If Harry was Lucas’s key mentor, why did he not know so very many things about Lucas? Another inconsistency for me.


        • Interesting point about “the real” Lucas — that guy must have had no human connections if John could just come back to London and assume his identity, because anyone who actually knew Lucas wouldn’t have been able to accept John as him. This is not the 16th (Return of Martin Guerre) or 19th (Somersby) century.


          • I had already thought of the whole “it’s the 20 century and this doesn’t compute” aspect. It’s a lot harder these days for someone to just waltz in and take over somebody else’s life. Even if they had been virtually identical twins (which they clearly weren’t), the odds of John being able to finish up the whole vetting process and slipping seamlessly into Lucas’s life just seems so far-fetched for me. How long and how well had they known each other? Did Lucas have any family–did John? Oh, fudge.


    • Almost 48 hours out I am still thinking about it a lot, though it’s not as bad as last week was.

      -Lucas’s suicide: yes, it was weird, especially because he survives all that time in prison. This “I can’t go back to prison” explanation is extremely poorly prepared in the script. A lot of fanfics (khandy’s, e.g., which talks about the way that so much time in prison affects how Lucas views his personal space, or redlyn’s which deals with Lucas’s reaction to torture) have dealt with it better. Honestly it’s hard for me to buy that a character who survived this much would now be committing suicide over prison.

      -Maya: other commentators have said more about this than I can, but yes, that character has no motivation for anything she does that’s ever explained to us — the script never tells us anything that might explain why she’s susceptible to the attraction of John or why in the end she says his love for her is an illusion. To me this somewhat mitigates Laila Rouass’ lackluster performance, just because how do you play an a character who has no motivation?

      -nice point about John being a (so) called killer who doesn’t kill. In comparison we do see Lucas kill in potentially unnecessary settings (7.8). It makes one suspect that he didn’t see the embassy bombing as killing in the same sense. Of course we can’t know because we are given no reason why John, or Vaughn, or indeed anyone, was bombing that embassy.

      -Ruth: I like her, too. Perhaps to some extent I see aspects of myself in her, the uncool brainy girl.

      -tossing ideas in a bowl: yes!!! I didn’t say this in the original comments, but that to me was the whole purpose of the scenes at the beginning where they were reading Lucas’s file — it was a sort of command to the viewer to think about what might have caused this. Well, we’ve been thinking for a whole series about that, and we couldn’t come up with an explanation that fits the evidence we have. In a way it sort of signaled ahead of time the problems that we identified with the episode at the end: we can’t explain this and neither can the writers. But it’s THEIR job!


      • Exactly, Servetus. It was the responsibility of the writers to pull themselves together and pull these story lines and plot elements together for us, the viewers, and IMHO they really, really let us down. We kept waiting for answers week after week and we never really got them.


  7. The use of the flashbacks reinforced for me how much the series had lost its way. Not only were they irritating and confusing as to what they were trying to convery about Lucas/John, they reminded me of how good Spooks could be. The introduction of Lucas in 7.1 was mesmorising and the sleeplessness from early in 7 and the suicide scene from 8.4 were stunning examples of Richard’s improvisational abilities.

    So what do we all know now. Richard, darling, never do a third series of anything otherwise unimaginative script writers will dump a load of crap on which you have to sort out. We know you can do it magnificently but it is painful for you, and for us. And so, as we did with that other third series, we will emigrate to the Land of Denial and remember our poor, damaged hero Lucas North who was almost perfect (apart from his propensity to fall for women with no personality who didn’t love him), forgetting the plotline which was as probable as the sex on the kitchen table to await the Hobbit.

    Bye the bye, having just re-read the Hobbit, there is a scene where the dwarves go down to the river for a wash – so topless? maybe, but he won’t have to wax his chest hair will he?!!


    • Yes, Spooks, when, good, is very good indeed. When bad–and I am afraid too many moments in S8 and 9 fall into that category for me–it’s horrid. I am truly tired of the total deconstruction of RA’s characters (as you say, Pam, that third series seems to be–pardon the pun–the killer) coupled with implausible plot lines and cringe-worthy dialogue . . . yes, it gives Richard lots to work with, but at some point surely even this gracious and dedicated individual wants to curse a blue streak and say, “Enough already!! I don’t need another plot twist or character change. I’m working hard enough to keep this all believable as it is.”

      Lucas has joined Guy in that elite group I call SND–“So NOT Dead.”

      And I thought about the same thing–RA as Thorin gets to skip waxing his chest for a while, bless him.


    • Nice point about the flashbacks, Pam. It was like the writers were saying, “we have a general idea of how this might have happened to the character but we’re not willing to tell you anything specific,” as if the degeneration of Lucas into John was something obvious and inevitable, which none of us were likely to believe.

      I also agree about the series problem. I always wonder how the cast of Dallas felt about the “dream season” (9) after which Bobby is NOT dead and all the events of that season were just a dream. Such unbelievable nonsense. It can only be explained by the desire of the viewers to have him back, they were so desperate they would accept any explanation.

      So it would be very interesting to me how badly we want Lucas back. Hypothetically, if season 9 turned out to be a bad dream, would that be ok with us if we got Mr. Armitage back? Do we want to see him so badly that we’ll watch him in anything? (This is a question I was raising a few weeks ago in a different form).


      • As much as I love Mr. Armitage, and love the original Lucas, I don’t want to see him come back to this show. I can honestly say that.


      • No, I don’t think I’d want to see RA back, while I will see S10 next year (I think it will be their last); I don’t think he should return.


  8. Wow, this post is long, I’ll finish it later.

    Since I’ve been mulling on it since yesterday evening, I find myself sharing the same emotions you have. Grief and relief, I’m glad it’s over. No more annoyances, he’s gone.

    The script? Egads. This episode basically depended solely on RA’s acting and even he seemed to strain at times. PF and NW, especially the latter, had their moments, but everyone else seemed to be mere background filler.

    I did like the flashback to the previous seasons, like a very nice send-off; but also a total shame at the same time since those flashbacks showed so much potential for the character. Still, did we get any explanations or answers on anything? Nope. Not a thing. Maya still remains a question as to: why? What? How? Or even who? Not so much a deeper character development, nor their relationship and what it was based on.
    The 8 years in prison definitely took a toll on him, left unexplored until these flashback; as to show the viewer how troubled and damaged he had become because of those experiences. Still, lazy writing.

    If they had only gone this route earlier and not squeeze the unraveling of him this season and mainly the last 2 episodes, it might have worked. This last episode showed how tormented and troubled he was, how lost and confused he was about who he was. He was neither Lucas or John; whomever he was, was long lost. Desperately trying to search for an identity and regaining what once was. The struggle to find himself could have been an interesting arc, instead of this sloppy mess.

    Was he in love with Maya or simply enamored with his very uncomplicated past before Dakar and desperately trying to go back to that life, including Maya. It was clear that he was clinging on to an illusion. By the end of it, even she had to concede that he seemed to be chasing ghosts from the past. Of course the next logical question would be, why the hell did she follow him? Why was she so willing to abandon everything she had as well, and for a man she doesn’t know or even loved. Not to mention, how could Lucas be so naive?

    The end was surrounded by so much ambiguity. Ambiguity on guilt, revenge, anger and who they are. I absolutely felt sadness when the suicide was alluded/took place, and I can’t seem to put my finger on why.

    At least I didn’t feel as annoyed as I was with ep.7, I was more willing to go with it, because weirdly enough this time things made more “sense”. And well, whaddayaknow, Maya finally seemed to have a personality. Alas it only emerged the last few minutes of her life; the shoot-out scene? Yeah, totally saw it coming she’d get hit and die. Thanks cliché!

    I guess I’m not annoyed anymore is because this frustrating arc has been wrapped up. He won’t be back in Season 10, though I will watch to see what the ramifications are for everyone. But yeah, it’s over.

    All in all, I think this was a brilliant episode acting wise, RA did an amazing job with what was written. He really pulled out all the stops to portray L/J in all his anguish and despair, despite the fact that he’s had to do a complete rewrite of the character in his own head.

    I will certainly miss my weekly dose of RA on my screen though.

    Doubt I’m done saying what I wanted to say, but this comment is long enough!


    • They should have touched on more of the damage done by those years in prison earlier in Lucas’s time on the show . . . interwoven it into the overall plot lines and then, maybe, then, we’d have ended up with a plausible ending we all could have lived with. Yep, too bad Maya only asserted herself about five minutes before she died. If we’d been given more of their back story, seen them together as students, been privy to their conversations in the now–maybe we could have understand that relationship better. As it is, poor John came across as a totally naive, love-sick numpty.

      While I will also miss my weekly dose of RA, I would rather it be in some other series after this debacle.


    • Somehow I was also less affected by this ep than by the previous one. It kind of made more sense to me too.
      I find it interesting that the ”killer” John, who was declared to be ”awake now” by Vaughn last episode actually did not kill anybody in this episode. His whole planning seemed to be hinging on the fact that they now thought the worst of him, while actually it was all smoke and mirrors. The guy running away should not have been killed for running away. If they were going to bring John/Lucas in, surely the shot would not have been meant to kill? Ruth was merely drugged. The bomb was not real, only a decoy. And Harry did not get killed either.

      In this episode all the killing seems to be done by MI5 cum suis (the guy that ran, Maya, and in the end, Lucas, by the fact that Maya got killed and by the mere fact that you could argue that Harry had betrayed him repeatedly, first by not getting him back from Russia in a decent amount of time, and later by never giving him the trust that he craved and needed. Not even this series; you felt that Harry held back his trust, even if he extended his hand and said: sure I trust you. He did not ring true. John/Lucas had nothing more to live for. (I am also wondering why Harry gives up Albany to save Ruth, but not to save John/Lucas, since he knows that it is a dud. Another betrayal, that John/Lucas realizes when they are on the phone right after the drop.) Harry is a mega manipulator.

      I am also wondering about the flashbacks. You see them in this episode, but I can’t really envision Lucas having had sweet dreams during the past series. What if they only now show how damaged he was, and if he had been battling this all along since Russia? I know I have read comments on earlier series on how strange it was that he was able to pick things up like that right after he got retrieved. That would have been a heck of a punishment of John. In the previous series you really never got a feel for what went on in Lucas head. Maybe seeing the picture of Maya reminded him of a time when he was whole, and he was just too tired to keep fighting those memories and flashbacks, and started to lose it. Of course it would have made so much more sense if they had done something with this sooner.

      In a similar yet different way from Ruth Lucas is dead inside. They are both damaged, and I think that that accounts for some of the chemistry in their scenes together. I think that in a way she comes closer to him during those scenes than anyone in the 3 series before. But Ruth has someone who trusts her, and will go all the way for her, while Lucas has no one. That can make a difference in how someone pulls through. I was always touched by the loneliness that he exuded.

      John was young and foolish, and open for manipulation. he did horrible things. Then he became Lucas, and I think it rings true that he tried to atone for the crimes that John had done. Seeing the picture of Maya opened Pandora’s box. But in the end I think he became Lucas again, simply because he did not plan to kill anyone, and wanted to outsmart MI5 (and boy, did he ever, and if Maya hadn’t been there he would have gotten away with it because he ran circles around them). And yes, after all the betrayals that John/Lucas felt that Harry has put him through, he tried to frame him for giving up Albany. In fact, in the eyes of John/Lucas Harry gives up Albany for Ruth, like he wanted to give up Albany for Maya, so how is that different? Harry knows it is a dud, but John/Lucas did not until the end.
      I am so much moved by Mr Armitages acting, and if it wasn’t for that I would not have been able to even get my head around anything of this story-line. A lot of it is conjecture of course, but still, to me it makes at least a little bit of sense. I was really crying yesterday, and I will miss Lucas (from season 7 and 8, that is…. but also from 9.5).


      • Richard was wonderful. He was the one who made the bizarre plot make a little bit of sense to me, through his marvelous, marvelous acting. And it wouldn’t take much to get me crying again, either, Elisabet.

        His aching, palpable loneliness–a trait he shared with Guy in some ways–just broke your heart. A really great character and one I won’t ever forget.


        • Yes, exactly… Guy was the first character of Richard that I encountered. Funnily I dismissed the series when it actually aired because at a glance I liked the bad Guy better than Robin Hood, and boy, that was NOT possible I thought (I always have liked the story). Later I stumbled on the series again, started watching and became hooked. And here I am. And you are right: also Guy has that deep aching lonelyness, that resonates with me.


          • I was always a fan of Robin Hood myself . . . until the latest version. And then a tall, dark-haired, smouldering henchman in black leather walked into my life and converted me.

            At first, I said to myself, “That Guy is a right smarmy b*stard . . . but a good-looking one.” And then I watched as he gave more and more depth and humanity to the character and the clear chemistry he and Lucy had on screen together and, well, I was hooked on Armitage–and Guy. I still remember Guy responding to Marian’s questions. “I have no one!” with that break in his deep voice. And I felt so sorry for this beautiful, conflicted man who yearned for love and to be able to trust.


      • Good point on sensing the tangible loneliness Lucas exuded in all his actions. And he did seem to act from that lonely place, trapped in a big and complicated web of lies he created with no real way out.

        His last words truly got to me and were so poignant. “I am nothing.”

        For not knowing what goes in his head, true, however that seems to be typical for most of Spooks unfortunately.

        Yes, I think that’s where my grief stems from, saying a definitive goodbye to Lucas.


        • Losing someone you love–yes, even a fictional character–is painful and I think it’s perfectly understandable we are grieving. Richard breathes life, heart, soul into these fictional creations and makes them so compelling, so real–how can we look away, or not feel pain and loss when we see one destroyed before our very eyes?

          We think of spying as glamorous but I suspect doing it in real life often takes an enormous toll on an individual, family, friendships, romances.

          A lonely life, filled with deception.


          • I have to admit that I am miffed about it, and normally I am very even-keeled, but today I came across a fanvid of Lucas and I chocked up. Still raw, those feelings, apparently.


            • Don’t feel bad, I am obviously still pretty raw in my feelings about all this.I can’t even look at the old Lucas vids right now.


              • I have atill postponed re-watching the ep till now. I am still thinking about it though. Maybe I’ll be up for it tonight.


        • It expresses that state of mind that facilitates suicide. It’s interesting to me that for that statement he slides back down into a lower pitch register, away from the emotional high voice of the rest of that scene.


      • Elisabet, this is why I wished that Harry would have had to kill Lucas — because he’s always pulling the strings, he’s never the guy who has to do the dirty work. If Lucas is irretrievable, then let Harry be the person who puts him out of commission. I really hated Harry for most of 9.8 except when he was calling his daughter.

        On John vs Lucas, the more I think about this, the more troubled I feel by the way the script dichotomized between them — something that Mr. Armitage had to work both with and against more and more as the series went on, to show how they were essentially the same person with his gestures, voice, and postures. It’s like the scriptwriters forgot that John was a person who had the capacity to BECOME Lucas. He can’t just have been evil, and it’s not really credible that he was a psychopath. Psychopaths do things because they are in their own interest; they lack fundamental sympathy with other humans. It’s hard to see how a true psychopath could have carried the Pakistani prime minister out of that building in 8.8.


        • See, this is what troubles me. If John Bateman was truly evil and was just “pretending” to be Lucas North but was still bad all along, why would he have chosen to put himself in harm’s way again and again and shown the concern and compassion he did time after time?

          I have read extensively about real-life socio-and psychopaths (what can I say, it’s a side hobby) trying to understand what drives certain people to do certain terrible acts, and that type of abnormal psych just doesn’t fit with what we’ve seen of this character. It. Doesn’t. Work.


        • It would have helped to understand matters if the reason for the bombing would have been made clear. There must have been a believe system that accounted for those bombings? What did Vaughn believe it would achieve and how did he convince John of that? How did he lure John in?
          And Servetus, I don’t think that a psychopath would feel remorse, and even if he did, he would never be able to turn his life around for 15 years and develop the strict moral compass that Lucas had. That whole idea seems preposterous.


    • Just a quick note: part of the issue with the flashbacks was that some of them were flashbacks to info we actually have (7.1) because we’ve seen it, but some of them were only flashbacks to flashbacks, i.e., we know that Lucas tried to kill himself in prison, presumably in response to torture, and was cut down by Oleg, but that’s all we know — we were only given that information so we could understand who Oleg was, not really to understand anything about Lucas. This is part of the problem in this episode — the information chain is cut and we don’t know what Lucas’s reaction to his time in prison really was. All we get is a statement in 7.2 that he didn’t want to end up in a cell, and then the ironic remark in 7.3 asking whether it was worth Lucas / John being arrested and spending his night in cell to learn what they learned. And those things don’t suggest that he has any more than the normal aversion to prison, understandable in his case. I.e., it’s not clear what the flashbacks to 8.4 really mean to Lucas, and if they are 50% of the explanation of why he’s committing suicide, it’s a bit sketchy.


      • The flashbacks were such lazy writing IMO, because indeed, the viewer could interpret it many ways and still not understand the true meaning.

        And servetus, please allow me to tell you how nice it is to have a place where discussion is so much part of the experience. Don’t get me wrong, the forums have a place, but discussing the finer things don’t seem to fit. Guess that’s why I could no longer withhold from commenting on your often thought-provoking posts.


  9. Believe me when I say I am in total awe you this group’s critiquing skills. I haven’t had to think on this level since my Eng. Lit. days. That said, I’m approaching this last episode from purely an emotional/gut level. It’s my turn to be depressed. My thoughts center on the scenes where J/L and Maya are escaping. (There are so many scenes to dissect, but I’ll just hit this one.)

    1. I nearly screamed (ok hubs says he heard me scream.)watching Maya alternate from pleading to cold to near tears to brutal and then just jump in the car with a man who she’s convinced (and very quickly convinced by a total stranger) is a killer and liar?? This Maya thing is nuts. Plain and simple.

    2. How the heck did Maya get hit from the angles we’re shown? Did Alec fire the fatal shot/s?

    3.The idealistic/immature John. Re: “It’s going to be all right. Everything is going to be fine. I can fix this.” REALLY?!! And, “Maya. We did it. We got away.” Sounded like teens who just shoplifted toilet paper at the local 7-11.

    4.HE LEFT HER ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For Pete’s Sake man, this is THE Love of your life? No way.

    5.And then proceeded to deliver Albany and NOT get in the helicopter, thus staying alive to guest star in following episodes of season 10?
    I lied. One more scene and then I MUST get on with the day…must get lunch to take to #2 feedlot for hubs. I don’t think he’d appreciate going hungry so I could wax on via internet about a TV series. I know. The man has no taste in entertainment proven by his watching football while I sat in here watching Lucas disintegrate and listen to me groan, whine, and scream at the computer screen. I digress.

    J/L then decides that since he has no purpose in life left, now that Maya is dead, to go after Harry, who, IMHO, was the impetus in this whole fiasco? (He wanted Harry to pay for those 8 yrs of prison and for the manipulation Harry so easily produced in seemingly all situation.) And then, he jumps off the rooftop thus not killing Harry (does that make J/L a hero? Like mentioned before, he also does not kill Ruth and does not set a bomb off.) BTW, I LOVED the J/L-Ruth scenes. Notice how at one point, he sits down next to her instead of towering over her thus portraying the dominant role to the equal-to role?

    Finally, (thank goodness she’s nearly done), would someone explain the Harry/Lucas realationship? Maybe I’m just dense or missed something in an episode (granted, I have run thru season 7-9 rapidly in an attempt to “catch up. Remember, I just found this series a month ago when I found this blog. Old lady needs a break?!) I get the father figure thing, but it seems like there is much more to it. I kept expecting Harry to blurt out to J/L, “I’m your father!” a la Darth Vader. Is Lucas that much more special than say Roz or Adam?

    Off to cook hamburgers for RL man. I’ll eagerly come back to read more later! And thanks for the ride, Mr. RA and all of you. It’s been fun!


    • Lucas was Harry’s protégé; so the gifted spy Lucas came to fruition under Harry’s guidance.


    • Call this a crash course in narrative analysis and Armitage studies, NovemberBridge — we’ll do our best to keep you up to speed while not letting hubby starve.

      On 2, I was wondering, too, how she could have gotten shot unless in the back of her car seat with a bullet that went right through. Which means that MI-5 is packing some hella handguns.

      Also nice point about the teenagers joyriding. That’s great support for my “John as teenager” idea.


      • I once saw a test report on TV how well a car could withstand bullets. The result was that all gangster films were quite unrealistic, because the bullets went through the whole car (From side to side or from front to rear made no big difference). No gangster in a car would have a chance to escape the police shooting at him.
        The only cars with potentially safe spots were heavily protected cars specially built for politicians.
        I do not know if the car construction changed so much since then, but I think the tendency to build lighter cars to safe fuel would even make it easier for a bullet to get through.


      • Before I completely lose my mind, one more thing…what IS IT that J/L says as he holds the now dead Maya in his arms? It’s right before he says, “We’re so close.” Somthing like, “Come on. Come on_____.” Then flashback to the Russian prison. Heck, it’s probably nothing, but it sounded “Russian”. Maybe Russian for “sweetheart”…sounded more like “bonite” but I don’t think he’d dropping Spanish endearments. But then this is Spooks we’re talking about. And thanks for help. I’m going to try and go season 7 and try to get a grip on J/L and Harry stuff. In my spare time. But now that I know how it all turns out, it won’t be as much fun.

        On the bullet thing…I would’ve thought that since there was a civilian in the car with him, they would’ve gone for the tires. Of course, in the heat of the moment, anything could happen I guess.

        I think what I need is a good Guy and Marian fanfic. Any suggestions? Or I could drink my coffee (decaf for this time and night & Grogg is the flavor of the night). Or watch Guy and Marian fanvids at youtube. Or do both at the same time. Escapism is what it’s called.


        • I am pretty sure it’s “Come on. Come on. We’re nearly there.”


          • Just went back with “We’re nearly there.” in mind.. You’re right, you’re right, you’re absolutely right. I was hallucinating obviously!


        • @ November Bride, I’m with you that ‘s all I have been doing recreationally since I watched the finale on Monday night, reading Guy/Marian fanfic. It is my emotional chicken soup and fuzzy blankie. Something about that hot Guy in black leather and that deep velvet voice makes everything all better. Been listening to Lords of the North on the commute to/from work too. My car becomes my happy place!


          • You lucky duck, you! What a way to commute! I’m having a heck of a time finding LotN anywhere. I listened to the exerpt at one of the fan sites. Sounds very chocolatey, velvety and alltogether tantalizing!

            Yep, tamara, I think I’ll pop in my newly delivered RH dvds as it’s supposed to rain here tamara. No mowin’, no trimmin’, no cookin’, no nuttin’ honey…jest me and Guy (and all those other annoying characters that insist on showing up.) For after all, tamara is another day. 😉


            • NovemberBride,

              You can order LOTN from Naxos. Do you need the info? I will be happy to provide for you. It really is wonderful. Just let me know.


              • Thanks, Ann Marie. I just went to Naxos Audiobooks and it doesn’t seem to be there??! Wahhh!


                • No wahhh, no wahh, its ok honey! I messed up! It WAS is the ordering info and the gentleman from the company that I dealt with, Mr. Peter Royle was absolutely lovely:

                  The Lords of the North (unabridged) Audio Book
                  narrated by Richard Armitage

                  AudioGo Ltd £22.99 plus £3.50 postage & packing for UK delivery (other delivery charges).

                  Use link above to order online, or telephone +44 (0) 1225 443400 or email

                  10 CD set or also available as 10 cassettes for the same price

                  I’ve cut and pasted the link here:

                  If you have any other trouble or this geets mangled in the web email me at and I will send you the info directly. It really is work it. He makes the phrase, “end of disc 4” sound sooo sexy! 🙂


                  • ROTFLOL!! Wow, he IS talented if he can make that sound sexy! LOL!!! OK, will email TODAY. This will be hubs’ anniversary gift to me…he just doesn’t know it. What a sweetie to go to all that trouble for me, Ann Marie. Thank you!


          • Hi Ann Marie,

            that’s exactly what I have been doing these last 2 weeks. Listening to LOTN. I love it. I also just started reading book 2 of the series, and I can hear RA in my mind 🙂


            • Elisabet,

              You’re reading the series too! I am in the middle of the first book and you are so right, you can hear his voice in your head as you read and it really does enrich the experience for me.Plus it helps with the understanding of the pronunciation of those difficult names! Bernard Cornwell should thank him because I would never have looked at the series without Richard as an intro. It would have been my loss!
              Did you know that there is a new book of the series just out several months ago, called the Burning Land? I didn’t and stumbled across it by accident.


              • Ann Marie.
                I think that RA should receive a commision from Bernard Cornwell 🙂 I would never have found these books on my own. And now I am reading the series, and am thinking about checking out his other series too 🙂 I especially love stories about King Arthur, and he has written books on him as well. Thanks for bringing the Burning land to my attention 🙂 And enjoy the read.


  10. You all are waaay more intelligent than I am, so here’s what’s been bugging me. Are any of these writers women because they can’t write good female character. Yes, Ross was awesome,but she was pretty much a guy with boobs. The thing that is really irking me is Maya. As women we tend to ask A LOT of questions, and this woman didn’t seem to ask one question or have any real concerns about why he killed a man, why they were on the lamb. Nothing, nadda. For me to believe her, I’d have to suspend disbelief to the point that she was somewhat mentally challenged to go along with it all. Yes, the man is drop dead gorgeous, but STILL wouldn’t you have some questions???? Have some concerns? Something? Anything? I don’t have as many issues with her acting as I did with the script and her use as merely a plot point to send Lucas/John over the edge.

    My second problem is with Ruth, how could she be such an ungrateful cow to Harry who risked his job to save her????

    And finally, English Lit people please draw me the connection to William Blake bec I am waaay to thick to figure it out on my own.


    • @Rob,

      I am no dunce (and neither are you) . . . there was simply way too many plot holes, dialogue that made me wince, implausible situations . . . only RA’s performance and that scene with Nicola Walker saved it for me. The whole thing was so very, very painful to watch.

      I addressed the same issue about Spooks female characters on my site. Obviously, there are no female scriptwriters because their female characters in the last couple of series have truly stunk to high heaven. I didn’t believe in Sarah Caulfield and I don’t believe in Maya.

      Sarah was a snotty bitch with the worst American accent I’ve ever heard (please, people, tell me you couldn’t have checked and made sure the actress could do a credible Yank accent!) and a total cold fish (although she did appreciate how “beautiful and clever” Lucas was) and Maya was a beautiful but vacuous cipher who remained distressingly passive most of the series and DIDN’T ASK ANY BLOODY QUESTIONS UNTIL IT WAS TOO EFFIN’ LATE!! I grieved for John in his loss of her (although he never really had what he thought he did, poor sod) but I was quite happy when she died, frankly. She got on my nerves to no end. Laila may have been largely handicapped by the awful scripting and directing of her character. She certainly won’t be fondly remembered by any Spooks fans, I suspect.

      I have also commented Ros was great, but essentially written as a man with boobs. Great minds think alike, @Rob. Ruth–I don’t know. I think Ruth is pretty much over Harry. And I still think there’s some resentment in her heart against him, in spite of saying she is now numb. Do Series 10 and end this trip, folks.


    • rob and angie,

      I think the Spooks writers often write women as “types” rather than the complex creatures we know we are. The only female character with any human complexity this season was Ruth. I do have to say that Ros is a more complex character and not as macho in earlier Spooks seasons. But to be fair, they also tend to write some of the male characters as “types”. Look at poor Tariq!

      angie, I agree with you about Ruth. The scene between her and Lucas/John when they were discussing marriage proposals, of all things, and Lucas says referring to Harry “you still love the guy” or “after all you love the guy” and Ruth doesn’t ansswer – that was a clue there I think. I also thought when she called off following Harry and saying it was “his turn” that was rather cold for a woman in love, whether MI5 or not!

      I thought the scene with Lucas/John and Ruth in the warehouse or wherever, was the most intimate scene between two characters (other than Harry and Lucas) that I’ve seen this season on Spooks.


      • Yeah, poor Tariq, requisite techno-geek. They haven’t given him much to work with either, have they?

        Ruth just didn’t seem to respond to Harry in the way she has in the past. And her lack of response to John when he makes that comment spoke volumes to me. Definitely, the more I think of it, that was my favorite scene in the ep.
        And far more intimate than any moment John and Maya ever shared . . .


        • I found sympathetic her comment that so much has happened that she doesn’t know how to unpack it all. I think that’s the case for a lot of people in high stress situations; they just don’t think about important things because there is no time and then later they are afraid to.


      • Also frustrated with the treatment of Tariq in this entire series.


    • “Yes, the man is drop dead gorgeous, but STILL wouldn’t you have some questions???? ”
      ROTFL! Thanks for that @Rob.

      I’m so relieved because I find myself disliking Lucas’ girlfriends (note, I’m not saying wives because to me Elizabeta was great), as much as I tried to be objective and give Maya a chance since the beginning and not make a negative comment(or tried not to) about her. All the time we saw her following Lucas in they escape, I kept saying, are you leaving *everything* behind for him? For an ex-boyfriend from uni, you just re-encountered a (~)month ago? No question asked, nothing?! You just follow him as if he was making some errands before taking you home? I was sad when she died because John had wrecked Lucas’ life completely, practically beyond repair for/because of her and now the prize that had cost so much was gone.

      At some point I actually considered I hated Maya more than SC and that’s a lot coming from me. Maybe we haven’t been convinced of their story because of cut scenes… i.e infamous table scene.



      • I started out with high hopes for Sarah Caulfield in S8. Got shot down. Started out with high hopes for Maya Lahan this series. Got shot down again.

        I have to say I do think I actually hate Maya now even more than Sarah and, boy, that’s something coming from yours truly.

        John’s obsession with Maya, envisioning her as this sort of cleansing agent of his past sins, dreaming of this halcyon life they would have together, drove him to do some truly foolish things–how I wish Vaughn had never shown up with that damned suitcase!!–and I never really believed in their “passionate” relationship, in what John thought it to be.

        She was the object of his destruction, and without more proof of what they had once meant to one another–I couldn’t see, can’t see, why she was worth it. It all seems like such a dreadful waste.


      • They are scripted extremely poorly. The only reason that Elizaveta got a better deal was because she was Lucas’s handler, so they had to have those two painful conversations in Highgate cemetery.


    • @Rob,
      Regarding the lack of questions of Maya: I could totally not understand that. Of course she should have peppered him with questions. And should have behaved in a totally different way when he started waving guns. Rally, what was wrong with her standing in front of that window, like a statue.

      They really don’t seem to understand women, do they…


      • No, Elisabet, they really don’t quite have the grasp they need of the female psyche.


        • honestly, i have prob asked hubs ten questions before breakfast! I can’t imagine if an ex turned up with those tatts and strange behavior, no matter how good the sex was that you wouldn’t have a few q’s, even before some scra faced man popps up to tell you what is what!!!!


          • Makes absolutely NO sense. She appeared to be, as a friend said, “a lump of lead” who couldn’t work up enough energy to sneeze, much less ask some VERY important questions to/about this guy from your distant past before jumping into a relationship and talking about “forever.”


    • @Rob, I just jump immediately into bed with every gorgeous man from my past who shows up suddenly and expresses an interest. That way I don’t have to have an actual life 🙂


  11. And one final thing, I noticed that in some of the scenes, when he was John, he took on a different accent. Any of the Brits tell me what region that was?


    • Hi @Rob – I need to listen again on that and get back to you tomorrow. I have a number of thoughts on the Armitage accent and would say that neither Lucas or John stray far from Richard’s normal accent but leave it with me – or an other Brit with a good ear for accents.


      • I’d like to talk more about this. I think I am going to post directing readers down here or something. I felt like there was a noticeable difference in Lucas in season 7 and season 9, but it’s nothing tremendously precise.


  12. @ Pam now mind you I could be loosing my MIND and there really isn’t a different accent happening but there were certain scenes when John was being pressed or defending himself that the accent/intonation changed and it sounded regional. Wonder if it is my imagination or if it was done on purpose. Who knows?


    • @Rob – the question was does John have more than a regional accent than Lucas? It is possible but clearly there are issues of intonation, pitch, and tone at play here as well. I commented a few weeks ago that I thought Lucas, as section head, was speaking with a deeper voice and the reason for RA doing that now appears to be twofold. Firstly, to show Lucas’ new found authority and secondly, to contrast with John’ slightly higher, less mature and less calculated voice and accent. I don’t think either accents stray dramatically from what one might term the Armitage norm. They are not Northern in the sense of the quartet of Johns (T, P, S and M) or Guy which are Yorkshire/Lancashire, or Ricky who is from Teeside (not a Geordie, 30 or 40 miles further south.

      So this begs the question what accent is the Armitage norm. Here I feel I will desecrate holy ground with an observation on the Armitage legend. RICHARD ARMITAGE IS NOT FROM THE NORTH!!! He is from about 3 or 4 miles south of Leicester which is definitely in the East Midlands. I think you would need to be from about 75 miles further north to begin to claim to be a Northerner. (I appreciate that to many of you who are based in North America the distances I am talking about are miniscule but here England which is very small but also densely populated, they have meaning.) So there is something of an Armitage mythology here – and why not, no criticism of him suggested in this. Clearly he identifies with the north since his dad is from Leeds (interesting that John Bateman went to Leeds Uni).

      So does Richard have a Leicester accent? I’m not sure that there is a very strong distinctive Leicester accent. Recently, the BBC have shown two programmes involving the inhabitants of Leicester ‘The Choir: Boys Don’t Sing’ based in a Leicester boys high school and ‘Michael Wood’s History of England’ which looked at the history of Kibworth about 10 miles east of Enderby where Richard is from. Neither of these programmes revealed to me a strong recognisable regional accent.

      So what would I say was distinctive to me as a Londoner in the Armitage norm? I example I would use would be found at Annette’s brilliant website If you listen to The Night Watch for England carefully, I would identify certain vowel sounds as very distinctive. I don’t have the linguistic vocabulary to describe these sounds but here are the key words I hear with the vowel sound. Unfortunately, the underlining I had added in Word doesn’t make to the comment box: unseen, scuffles, badger, countrymen, nothing, rubs and love. Predominantly ‘u’ sounds. In listening to Lucas/John recounting his first meeting with Vaughn while being interrogated by Harry, he refers to Vaughn as ‘lucky’ with just that accent.

      So this is where I run out of ideas. Is this a Leicestershire accent, a Leicestershire accent strongly influenced by a Yorkshire accent (his dad’s) since birth or an affectation invented by Richard (NB this is not a criticism, we all have our telephone voices etc which we assume)? I don’t honestly know. It would be interesting to hear Richard’s brother, Chris, speak. Same family influences but never moved away from Leicester or, I assume, had his voice trained.

      Hope this thoughts are helpful.


      • Pam, thank you so much for this. So very interesting, especially for an American. I don’t always notice the differences in accents, except if a very pronounced difference (at least to my ears) like Ricky’s. (Though we have regional accents also in the US). Fascinating about the possible family influence. I love his reading of “Night Watch for England” and listen to it often. RA creates such wonderful images and just subtle emotions with his voice. Thanks to you I’ll pay more attention to the differences in accent when I listen to RA.


      • Pam, this was certainly helpful to me, and reinforced a discussion Millyme and I have had (she is my beta on my John Porter fic) about the fact Richard, being from the Midlands, does not have a true northern accent as so many believe.

        In SB Collinson sneeringly refers to John as being from a northern council estate, but in the story I decided to establish Porter as having grown up in a “two up, two down” in the Midlands, since his Porter accent didn’t seem as strongly “northern” as all the other Johns.

        You are right, 75 miles seems like nothing to us across the pond, but it makes a big difference in little England.

        Re Spooks, I interpreted the changes I heard in Lucas/John’s voice as coming from the change in pitch to differentiate between the two “selves.” His use of his marvelous instrument of a voice continues to impress and amaze me.

        I love Richard’s “u” sounds, BTW. Especially when he says “love” and “comfort.” Would also like to hear his brother speak, too, to hear any similarities and/or differences.


      • @Pam thank you for the clarification. It was fascinating.


      • Very helpful, Pam, for those of just listening without context.

        I think Armitage has a northern mythology because (a) he’s played all those allegedly northern characters and (b) because he said repeatedly in the press for North & South that he was attracted to the project because he felt a family connection.


    • Richard’s voice, when acting a character under stress or under great emotion, has more certain features of the Midlands intonation. Thus I would say that John sounds slightly different to Lucas because of it.


      • @Millyme – that’s helpful. So would you say Richard’s distinctive ‘u’ sounds are typical of the East Midlands? It is even hard for a Brit like me to identify an East Midlands accent while the stereotypical West Midlands accents eg Brummie or Black Country are easy to spot.


        • I lived in Leicester for two years 15 years ago, so that’s my experience with the East Midlands accent. Richard has lived in London since he was a student so he doesn’t have a typical East Midlands accent. I think it can be mainly detected in the way he says his “u”s and when he’s acting great emotion. I don’t remember finding the particularity as thrilling then as I do now when uttered in his dark chocolate tones! 🙂


          • I also think we have to keep in mind that accent is really something fluid, in some cases over an entire lifetime. My English accent even changes when I’m living in Germany (under the influence of German my vowels migrate to the places in my mouth where I found them as a child). So it’s not surprising that the changes in his speech would be extremely subtle.


            • I have a tendency to pick up whatever is the dominant accent where I am–I started sounding midwestern when I lived there. If I lived in England for any period of time, I’d start sounding English. I don’t do it consciously; it just happens.


            • Very true. Living in Norway for 25 years has affected my English accent. My friends in London say that it takes about three days of speaking in a peculiar stilted manner, before my accent is back to normal!


  13. Not proposing this audio clip as an excuse for the writing exactly, but it does give an insight into the constraints and challenges of the process that might suggest why the script might not be so finely honed and the performances not so consistent as one might hope. Should be available worldwide.
    It’s Peter Firth on Front Roy on BBC Radio 4, 1st 8 minutes only.
    One interesting point is that PF doesn’t recognise his line, “It’s my turn” when it’s quoted back to him. I’d imagine that, for those who care, this will forever be a pivotal moment in the Harry/Ruth canon, and yet PF doesn’t remember it 4 months on.

    As for the Daily Mail article, I think Richard was being perfectly honest. Even without alternative endings, until he’d seen how they’d edited it, he wouldn’t know.


    • Apologies for the multiple technical glitches – the url is valid even if not clickable. Worth listening to.
      I feel it’s a bit unfair to approach an episodic TV series of this genre with full-on literary criticism. In order to maintain the necessary pace and tension over 9 seasons commissioned year on year, the intricacies of character development of ‘the expendables’ is probably not the writers’ very highest priority. (Like they couldn’t abandon a potential storyline just because, in a particular scene 2 seasons back, the character would have done something different if he’d known what he does now.)
      I understand that the highly regarded Mad Men pulled a similar trick with its lead in its third season. I’ve never seen it – perhaps someone could advise how successfully that was handled.


      • Well, this isn’t really a full on literary criticism, but I take your point that consistency is not always the first concern of the writers of the series — and also, since they have different writers all the time, newer writers may not be as familiar with the series as confirmed watchers are.

        I will say, however, that in the last thirty years or so a great deal of literary criticism has moved in the direction of these “popular” texts, just because critics are starting to see this sort of thing as what really matters (as opposed to the canonical “great books” of any period). My own research concerns the significance of second and third tier texts of my period, and one of the elements is to see how execution in products that used to be considered inferior works. So in that sense we’re undertaking a fairly central project here: the point in diagnosing the problems with the series isn’t so much to say “bleh” as it is to discuss what those “errors” mean for the viewer. FYI.


  14. I’ll have to resume commenting later — I have to take a nap. Up all night. Keep talking, and I’ll catch up with you all soon.


  15. The Daily Mail piece I understood to be very old and done while still filming so it is possible the interviewee did not know his fate or his future at the time. (Shoddy article in that it made no attempt to upsdate what had been wriiten and was obviously retrieved and sent to press without any further thought…but then it was the Mail.)
    Peter Firth interviewed on BBC Radio made some interesting observations that they were often filming from 4 episodes in one day and also were given parts of scripts only so were doing scenes with no reference to what had come before or what may come after.
    Mr Firth made me laugh by saying he had some stock Harry expresions that he utilised when he had no clear idea what he was supposed to be conveying. Amusing but also a tad annoying and it highlights for me the drawbacks of disjointed writing and directing.
    Huge admiration for the actors in the last episode, particularly Mr Armitage, for doing what they could with some awful dialogue.
    Thinking back on it I wish the writers had the courage of their John is a nurdering, weak sociopath convictions, and the series had ended with Lucas/John smirking after having kicked Harry off the roof, 300 stylee!
    Maybe they filmed that as an alternative incase series 10 was not commissioned.


    • As a journalist it always irks me to see things like this Daily Mail story in print that haven’t been updated. Just smacks of laziness.

      It must be maddening not only shooting out of sequence but constantly having script re-writes and not even knowing the context in which a scene is taking place (not to mention your character undergoing a 180 degree turn at intervals as RA’s was).

      I cringe to think of what this ep would have been like without some top-flight talents. Truly, I think it would have degenerated into really bad soap opera territory.


    • Yeah, it makes Mr. Armitage’s performances seem even more remarkable, I have to say, if they don’t know where they are in the plot when they’re filming the scenes.


  16. I think what saddens me most is that the man had “Dum spiro spero” TATTOOED onto his body and gave up hope and THEN died. The irony is palpably painful to me.


    • I know. It’s like a total rejection of all he’d been able to accomplish–surviving the torture and humiliation and isolation of prison, regaining his position with MI5, saving lives and making a difference as a real hero—no hope, none left at all. Only death.


    • Very well said, Ann Marie. Great point.


  17. At the beginning of 9.8 I still had hope for a fascinating if not good ending for Lucas / John. The scene in St. Paul’s Church really let me hope as this church was built by Sir Christopher Wren, a reported ‘father of freemasonry’, and is full with masonry symbols – but nothing, just a convenient meeting place.
    I was so disappointed by episode 9.8, that my first thought was “Oh hell, am I disappointed”. (Sorry, I am not normally that explosive.)
    Yesterday, to shorten the wait till finding a download and being able to watch this episode, I made a list of some of the questions, I wanted to be addressed and answered in this last episode of series 9.
    At question number 50 I stopped. And you will likely guess the result after this episode. No single answer to all my questions. Ahhh…. I could cry, not for the death of Lucas / John (I still very much doubt what I had not been able to see), but for the lost potential. Snifff….

    Thank you for asking about our opinion of this episode. It gives me a chance to let out some of my frustration.
    Your analysis is brilliant as ever and I admire you for your deep analysis of this for me rather disturbing episode.
    I especially agree with your description of the juvenile (Lucas /) John. I cannot believe Lucas / John would act that way after all his experiences and that strained my enjoyment of this last episode. Though I really did admire RA’s acting. In his last scene with Harry on the roof I more believe his voice than his posture. I do not really know why, but what he does with his voice is the only factor which makes this scene endurable for me. Perhaps because watching him in his juvenile John-state is too painful for me?
    Directly after watching episode 9.8 I started to write down my impressions in a notebook. I used half my notebook by now, but did not get any closer to any sense behind the script. I just mourn the loss of powerful potential the scriptwriters destroyed without necessity.
    Only in one point I differ with your comment. That is that I totally believe the Albany plotline. Perhaps because of a sister in micro-biology or because of Germany’s hurtful historical background, I do not see such attempts as totally unbelievable. In the view of DNA analysis figuring out when groups of people where historically divided from each other and for example figuring out that all Europeans go back to only 5 ancient grand…grand-mothers. Also healing methods try to get close to such a selective DNA targeting.
    But this is the only point I quite differ. Again I agree with you, that the chosen film-examples for potential war usability of Albany would not likely do at all.

    Thank you for your wonderful article and the helpful explanations. I am looking forward to any of your further analyses.


    • I personally find it really hard to swear in German. The two main options are not especially satisfying to me. When I use them I always feel disappointed. The effect is that when I return to the US after a long stay in Germany my friends always react positively to my lack of cursing. 🙂 So I recognize your “oh hell” as a sincere expression of explosive frustration 🙂

      I think you’re right to note that no episode could have answered every question we have, but that it could have answered some of them!

      John as juvenile — I think there’s something painful about watching a late-30 year old man regress that far, almost to the point of sniveling. There’s a sense in which it can be moving (as when John keens over Maya’s body in the car) but there’s always the question about when it becomes self-pitying. Armitage keeps it backed off from that, but only, only just. I feel like he’s on the cusp of too much just before the script forces him to talk about how Harry will explain what’s happened, and it’s that rather mature dialogue that ends up keeping it backed off from us developing a contempt for this boy-man.

      I suppose it’s possible that people would research in the direction of Albany (people research all kinds of crazy things — witness this blog!), but I’d still argue it’s not really credible in the way that it’s scripted in this episode. When I was writing that part of the post, I was looking for information on what the actual genetic differences are between racial or ethnic groups at the chromosomal level. Yes, there are identifiable genetic differences between some cultural groups. But not, for example, among the cultural groups included under the umbrella of the South Slavs. The vast majority of South Slavs have essentially the same genetic composition as their ancesters came from the same place or assembly of places. Even if such a weapon could (say) target people of African ancestry living in North America, because the have a distinct genetic heritage (although even that is questionable, given how many North Americans have ancestry that still traces back to Africa somehow even if not in the last eight or ten generations) given what we now know, it’s not feasible to think that it could kill Serbs but not Bosniaks, for example. These differences are cultural, not genetic.

      So hope we can agree to disagree. Thanks for your kind words and the many comments! 🙂


      • I really love your description of swearing in German. That must be the reason, why in Germany people start to swear in English ;o)
        With the description of the last scene between Lucas / John and Harry on the roof – in German I would say “you hit the nail on the head” (Du triffst den Nagel auf den Kopf). That was exactly what I was missing in my observation. Thank you!
        With the ethnic groups I totally agree with you, that such a weapon cannot really be targeted at a clearly defined group – fortunately for us all. Who knows what some lunatics might otherwise do.


  18. Yes CDoart, so many questions unanswered. What about the Chinese hit men we saw with the photo of Lucas? They dropped that completely, no explanation. Servetus I agree about your brilliant analysis of Lucas/John reverting to a teenager in his reactions. I hadn’t thought of that, I was just puzzled by his reaction, though RA’s acting pulls you in and makes you care,but now I see he was going back to a younger, unformed, self.
    I’ve also been thinking about why the writers made Lucas and John such a sucker for women. Would it have something to do with RA’s large female fanbase and RA being referred to by the press as a heartthrob? Maybe the writers and producers thought we would respond to that, would like that. a man driven to unexplainable behavior by the love of a woman!


    • @Musa,

      You could be right about the writers’ motives, but sadly, I think they are as bad about judging RA’s female fanbase as they are in writing female characters.

      I, for one, wanted to see the character in a tender, passionate love affair with no ambiguity about feelings on either side. A relationship that could help him heal somewhat after all he had suffered in that hellhole.

      It could be complicated, angsty, stormy, tempestuous–but as long as it was believable, plausible–I don’t think we would have responded so negatively to Sarah and Maya. As it was, it was very difficult to see what Lucas/John found so mesmerizing in these women. Personally, I am not particularly attracted to a man who appears to be an idiot!!


      • I agree, we members of the female fanbase don’t need to see Lucas tortured in order to make us happy. We’d be just as happy with a happy storyline. Like he falls in love with a woman who makes him think spying is bunk and he’d rather operate a sheep farm or something. In contrast I think that kind of thing is attractive to a male fanbase, that frustrated group who think all women are out to get men. That’s the kind of person who’d be satisfied by this narrative.

        Agree that idiot Lucas is not attractive.


        • Ah, the Male Pattern Jealousy
          Contingent probably loves that sort of thing. “Yeah, typical woman, making him suffer . . .” *rolls eyes*


  19. You all write in such brilliant detail, but I feel only sore. That last episode hurts like nothing else I have ever seen. I am prone to depression anyway and this show succeeded in messing with my head in a way that I feel another bout rolling on. When you write “Our last glimpse of him, whoever he was” I just cry.

    So, let me return to a shallow level – was Richard Armitage ever more stunning than here? Thinning hair or not, his face must be one of the most beautifully structured male faces out there, and his skin looks unlined and glowingly healthy. The most beautiful skin I have ever seen in a man.


    • Oh, Nietzsche, I wish I could reach out and give you a proper hug, my girl. It’s been awful, it really has.
      And I totally agree. Richard is just gorgeous. That bone structure is to die for–a face that is so interesting and watchable from so many angles–and his skin just begs to be touched (face AND body). It is so smooth and soft-looking. Many a female would love to have such a beautiful complexion, methinks. He fairly glows with good health, our boy.


      • Yes, it was awful. thank you so much for the hug (and the Black Op 🙂

        A lady at C19 quoted what Richard had said to Lorraine Kelly in the SB interview (May 4th), and how Richard hinted that his temper can flare so that he may throw a chair out of the window – was it frustration about the way Spooks was going? It wouldn’t be a wonder!


    • (((Nietzsche)))!

      He was great looking. I also loved him in the casual clothes. Mmmmm.


  20. Here’s the “lesson” I am deriving from My dear Mr. Armitage’s Lucas North: What is essential for a happy, abundant life which allows for joy and love is truth and knowledge of who we are inside. It sounds trite but the evidence abounds in the 3 series: wrapping himself in layers of pretense and lies ended up suffocating himself. The shroud of lies and the stress of pretending and denying his own existence (in a way) left no room for love and happiness to take seed and grow.

    Look at the people that he had in his life. Harry, master manipulator, still not a good thing, a liar, even if for Queen and country. Other Spooks, more pretenders and liars (even for a cause). Elizaveta, held onto the happiness in her life rather than throw it away for him, Sarah (she who will not be named) Caulfield, murderer, liar, manipulator.

    It is no wonder he could no longer hear the music of life. He is at peace now and is loved.


    • Is he? I fear for his immortal soul.


      • I believe that someone in that much pain will, eventually find his way into God’s arms. As a Catholic I believe that souls not in a state of grace at the time of death are broken and darkened who have regret for their actions, spend a little time in Purgatory in making peace, penance, whatever you want to call it and are forgiven and made whole and welcomed into God’s loving arms.

        I think Lucas had a great deal of regret and pain and sorrow and was, as a soul, lost. I believe he has found his way home. Just my opinion.


    • I have surprised myself by feeling a sense of resolution after seeing this last episode. It feels strangely like an epiphany, as if I’ve finally understood what underlying message the Spooks writers might have been attempting through the arc of not just this last series, but through the whole nine series. Or have I lulled myself into a state of total confusion because of Lucas’ fate?

      After a recent watch of all the Spooks series this autumn, I’m left with the impression that the last series was an attempt at indicting MI-5 as a system, the fallacy of sacrificing one’s self and life for the nation. Throughout the series, we watched the horrendous sacrifices the Spooks personnel have made, the frightful deaths, the lack of a personal life, all laid on the altar of national security. The heroes (Tom, Adam, Ruth) have all questioned the sanity of it. Harry has no real relation to his children and Ruth makes a poignant point of how it’s pretty much business as usual after the horrific ordeals. I think the Spooks writers perhaps tried to show this through the repeated betrayals and through the constrast of Lucas and Harry. Lucas was a hero for two series. He was essentially John who chose a life as Lucas, endured the suffering of a Russian prison for what was deemed a worthy cause, but started unravelling in the third, when he could no longer maintain the fiction of a life of heroism. Harry has lied and manipulated for the good of the nation and his brightest and best protege, Lucas, turns out to be a fake. Some of his closest associates, those he has trusted, have been traitors, Bernard Qualtrough, Connie and Nicholas Blake, while Ros started out a traitor and died a heroine.

      The unpeeling of Lucas leads to no inner core, just a nothingness. Maya was perhaps never meant to be more than two-dimensional. John thought he could pin his hopes for a return to a better life on her, but she was the stuff of his dreams, just like Lucas was a construction. The person Harry resorts to, to hunt down his rogue agent is himslef essentially a broken man, in reduced circumstances. No-one who has had anything dealings with MI-5 has lead a happy life. Albany ultimately was also nothing real. I thought it symbolic that the picture on the Albany file was that of the battle of Trafalgar. Nelson’s words, “England expects that every man will do his duty” could be MI-5’s dictum, and it has cost them all dear. Harry who has tried to do his duty, ends under a professional cloud. How fitting that Lucas meets the Chinese envoy in St Paul’s, where Lord Nelson lies buried, marking the end of his life of idealism and self-sacrifice. It is also significant that Lucas captures Ruth in Greenwhich, the historical seat of Britain’s naval identity.

      I have walked down those streets many times and eaten in cafes and restaurants in the area so it was a particular thrill to think of meeting Lucas in the cafe down the street.

      Perhaps Richard was thinking of this role when he mentioned that he might take on a role that the fans might not like. It was excruciating to witness the painful unravelling of the heroic Lucas, his regression into the liar, cheat and fraud that John was. I thought Richard, Nicola Walker and Peter Firth were superb in this episode.

      Perhaps I’ve read too much into this episode. To paraphrase Vaughn “[Perhaps]I fell asleep and dreamt that Lucas’ fate finally made sense? and that the Spooks writers were awake the whole time?”


      • Milly, if all this is so, then wouldn’t the last series have indeed been the last–the finale? Of course, they didn’t know until later it had been re-commissioned, which is why I think they tacked on that rather odd ending.

        You’ve obviously been doing a lot of thinking about his, and it’s a fascinating theory, but I’m just not sure I can agree with you on this one.

        I still find too many inconsistencies along the way that do not make me think they had this all mapped up for nine series. Too many loose ends never tied, too many questions left unanswered.

        No arguments, those three were great performing in this ep. But it was not a great episode for me, not a great series, but a maddening and unsatisfying one, and it all rings far too hollow for me.

        Perhaps I just have too strong of a need for the Lucas I knew and loved to be the real thing. I don’t know.

        But here we will have to agree to disagree, OK?


        • I think that this gets to the issue of what the “project” of a Spooks series is. I’ve said many times that I think the “project” of 8 is more ambitious than that of 7, even though it remained unrealized. I’m going to have to think more about what MillyMe says here — my sense had been that 9 was about the ways in which people are twisted by their vocational commitments, but that may have been because that’s my own peculiar problem — but I do think it’s valuable to figure out and critique the big idea even if, as you say, it’s not realized or even approaching well executed.


      • @MillyMe
        I absolutely agree with your analysis of the major story arc in this episode and the intention behind the series 9. The major arc is the only thing that works for me. Centering on Harry and Ruth, I can even see the continuity of argument, they try to show.

        Regarding Lucas/John I still have problems with it. In previous series “Spook” was able to create harmony between the major story arc and individual developments of each character.
        The intention of showing the negative effects of a big system is o.k. for me. The scriptwriters only completely left me as viewer out in the cold. I have problems relating this intention to the storyline of Lucas or comprehending any of his actions.
        Did they want the Blake tattoo to mean Lucas/John’s distrusts MI-5 and Harry? But who in his right mind would trust an organization consisting of spies anyway? And could the scriptwriters not just give me a little hint?
        Harry holding Lucas’ book does nothing in the way of explaining things to me.
        And all the other hints and leads they splashed over the Lucas-character just overdid it for me. Perhaps I am just disappointed, that none of the more interesting leads turned out to be true. Just this straight forward braking and self destruction of the leading spook of the team left me dissatisfied.
        I know I expected too much, but normally “Spooks” could deliver and surprise me, but not this time.


        • Hi Angie and CDoart

          I really love Lucas as we know him from series 7 and I think I have tried to understand where the writers were going with the storyline as a way of dealing with the way his story ended.

          What started me on this train of thought was a poster saying on the Spooks forum that RA didn’t have any chemistry with any of his female leads and basically blaming him for that. I started thinking that since Lucas must have been so damaged from his time in prison, he couldn’t really maintain a healthy relationship with a woman. That this was an intentional part of the character from his inception.

          I think that the writers’ story of John Bateman didn’t start before this series, which they originally thought of as the last, before they got recommissioned. I assume that the bluffs and double bluffs, the double and triple agents must have something to say about reality and appearances, how nothing is as it seems. Looking back I’d say that the writers have planted clues about this from the start; Beth appeared initally as a prostitute, but was an agent. So that when Harry’s protegé, Lucas, proves to be a bad ‘un from the start and Albany, which he spends the best part of the series on the trail of, is also not what it seems, it must be intentional on the writers’ part.

          I would have much preferred the writers to have explored Lucas’ Russian background and for him to have a fulfilling relationship with a loving woman, but perhaps this storyline has given Richard more scope to show the full range of his acting skills and is a more exciting exit for him as an actor. He’s not the only actor who has found the bad ‘uns more meaty to play than the straight hero roles. And what could be more challenging than the complete deconstruction of a hero?


          • I agree with you, that John Bateman was a new concept for the new series. Also I see the hints in the previous series, e.g. Chinese figurines in Lucas’ flat.
            But what disturbs me is that Lucas/John does not act as a real spy in series 9 even when Harry for the first time openly acknowledges his talent. He is only reacting to the pressure of Vaughan and not trying to outmaneuver him by finding out what he can about his background, intentions and about Albany.
            Even Vaughan assumed Lucas was already on to him. But Lucas/John did not even try.
            That all his experience as a spy and intelligence fail him so completely, is the point I do not understand.
            But perhaps his only thoughts were with Maya and nothing else mattered any longer.


            • Maybe Maya was mean to be a blank slate, but John–we really know nothing about him, not really.

              Other than he smoked pot and worked as a croupier and had fluid morality when he was young–and apparently was head over heels for this girl at university he promptly put out of his head for 15 years.

              But we have no real clues as to his personality (except, as Servetus said, he is “sweet”), his motivations, why they fell in love in the first place (although I am beginning to think she never really loved him at all) . . . to me, he is an unsatisfying cipher in himself. And I have to ask if such a weak-willed, easily manipulated liar as the young John Bateman could have plausibly transformed into the keen, brilliant, hard-edged spy we knew as Lucas North.

              I see that John as having spilled the beans in prison or making additional attempts to kill himself and succeeding while he was there.

              John was ultimately a pitiful and even pitiable example of a human being . . .

              The two just don’t mesh together for me, in spite of the brilliance of Richard’s performance. Maybe I’m stupid or obtuse or maybe I am over-thinking it all, but it just doesn’t work.


              • Angieklong, you summ up my thoughts I could not put together in words. I do not believe one single bit of the characterisation of John Bateman. Thank you for this overview.
                In my view your comment exactly puts the finger on the flaws of the script.


                • Thanks, CDoart. I have thought about this way too much, but I can’t get it out of my mind. It just niggles at me.


            • It’s really disturbing in general how bad Lucas is as Section chief. Almost everything goes wrong. It’s like they are trying to show that John has only bad judgment, but it’s such a contrast to 7 and 8 that it is a bit hard to take.


          • Milly, I am sorry and I am going to sound very cynical here and probably downright bitter, but I still feel this was a sell-out on Kudos’ part–especially that ridiculous ending where we are supposed to believe he committed suicide although we see no body–and they deliberately played up things to be expected in this series pre-airing which they did not deliver.

            Passionate scenes? When? Where? Were they ever even really filmed? Were the actors told to sell something that didn’t even exist? Granted, scenes are shot and end up on the cutting room floor, but I feel as if Kudos has been laughing at us all behind our backs and we’ve been led up the garden path in many ways.

            “Lucas is basically a hero”–oh, really? The real Lucas North according to this script never even got to be a spy and prove himself, while the fake Lucas did all kinds of heroic things but that doesn’t count because HE WASN’T REAL. Milly, they painted the man as an idiot in the end of it all, a weak, immature fool.

            I do not think it is psychologically possible for a man to morph in that manner, I don’t care what he went through. As I said elsewhere, it is as if he lost his keen intellect along with his moral code and reason to live.

            As for the meh factor with Soddin’ Sarah and Moody May, I don’t blame Richard for lacking chemistry with those women–I blame the casting people, the directors, the scriptwriters and the mediocre-at-best actresses themselves. The man can’t carry the whole load on his shoulders, for goodness sake!

            Sure, it gave RA quite an acting feast, but honestly, in my eyes he was starting to strain. I don’t think he will be sorry to leave Lucas behind and I am not sorry for him to do it. And what about that nice, peaceful death he wanted? Jumping off a high building to splatter on the pavement below doesn’t strike me as “peaceful.”

            I like that you can put a positive spin on this but for the life of me, right now–I can’t be persuaded to see it your way.
            I am going to do my wishful thinking on the River Denial and pretend a lot of this never happened. That’s my way of coping, I guess.


          • I agree that this script offered him probably the biggest acting challenge he has ever had — to unravel his own characterization of a role in a believable way through so many plot twists and while having to think about how his character is seen from so many different perspectives.


        • I should clarify I have no trouble with the Harry/Ruth story arc–and I really do believe it is the end for them as a couple–and the major “idea” of series 9 as Milly discussed.

          But the overall execution of this series was a major “fail” for me because of the failure of the Lucas/John storyline. I don’t buy it and I don’t think I ever will.


        • especially, “who in his right mind who is himself a criminal would ever trust a system like MI-5?”


      • @Millyme, love your idea that Maya was ‘perhaps never meant to be more than two-dimensional’. Like some other posters I’ve puzzled over why her role seemed so underwritten, why she seemed so passive and wasn’t in there, asking questions and challenging John.

        But it makes sense if the scriptwriters deliberately wanted to show her as a blank screen onto which John projects all his fantasies of an idealized past and a blissful future. If Maya had been written as a ‘real’ person it would have got in the way of Maya as a construct.

        What I find most hard to get my head round though is John harking back to university days as a time when ‘everything made sense’. So not my experience of student days, and I imagine not many others’ either. But then most people don’t turn into terrorists when they leave.


        • The answer he gave Harry on that rooftop re the bombing, something about Vaughn giving him a chance to “be somebody,” just didn’t cut it for me. What a cop out by the writers.


          • I had my problems with that as well. He wants to go back to a time, when he was a ‘nobody’ loving Maya? But desperately wanted to escape this existence 15 years ago to become ‘somebody’ through Vaughan?
            I doubted at this moment, that John Bateman even was his real identity.
            With this scarce explanation I do not even see what he wanted to become back then. Did he want to change the world, through murdering people, playing G-d, bombing the embassy?
            I do believe this explanation of wanting to become somebody more in the context of John’s attempts to gaining money via his illegal drug tradings. But here this explanation is not given.


            • Couldn’t agree more with you all about the “be somebody” at the end. He was already somebody as Lucas North, and certainly didn’t ring true coming from the intelligent, educated, brave and capable character they created (and RA really created) especially in Season 7 and also 8. Why was John Bateman a “nobody”before he became a drug dealer???? There’s also no back story to support this at all. From college student in love, to drug dealer and killer!


            • Love the explanation that John Bateman wasn’t his real identity.


      • Wow, MillyMe, I am really impressed by this. I esp like the way you actually find some meaning for the Battle of Trafalgar painting and note the burial site of Nelson.


    • And he had no family, either. No one with whom he had that “when you have to go there, they have to take you in” relationship.


  21. It has been a wild ride. It’s taken a while to gather thoughts about S9. Because I’m a plodding thinker and it takes time to internalise reactions. Easier to lapse into facetious remarks. Apologies for facetiousness. Aversion therapy? Isn’t that what Malcolm said to Connie, about staying all night on the grid following Adam’s death?

    I didn’t see self-destruction coming, as the solution to where they had taken the audience. (And a useful way of letting the actor depart from the series; as well as unbearably dramatic). A car-bomb wouldn’t have done it…) But refusal to consider it is just another bit of aversion.

    Agree with everyone about the scripting (in detail, anyway). All those threads that went nowhere? Overall, dramatically, perhaps it worked. But the diversionary tactics of details leave a sense od dissatisfaction.

    Totally off-message; a photo of Jill Clayburgh in today’s paper had me looking at Hermione Norris. Same facial structure, same small, cool smile. Maybe just the camera angle. Ms Clayburgh was of my generation; regret losing one of those talented actresses of the ’70s/’80s. But there is Helen Mirren, and of the younger brigade, Cate etc.

    So, keep on keeping on. Bring on the Hairy Dwarf. Until then, doses of S7, VofD, and Giz. In the meantime, there is endless material in the repertoire of Mr. Armitage to keep this blog going. (Only as long as you wish it to, servetus). The blog has been a lovely ride, too.


    • I agree absolutely that the weirdness of the last scene and the suicide come out of the blue. I did not believe it. As I think I said above I wanted Harry to actually have to risk his life. I mean, he says, “it’s my turn,” but we didn’t see John kill anyone on purpose in this whole episode and it’s hard to see how he could succeed in killing Lucas’s father figure without a lot more inner turmoil.

      It’s weird, I have an odd feeling now, too, as if a door is closing. I’ve had that feeling since the announcement about The Hobbit. I still have stuff to write (and as you note, tons of material available to me) but I feel a sense of release from the urgency I’ve felt about writing on this specific issue for the last two months. There’s definitely been an overdose of Lucas here and an absence of Guy.


      • Bring on Guy. I already have Glamour Guy back up as my laptop background. I needed long raven locks and that smug smile and those kohl-rimmed azure eyes . . .


  22. @ Sev the door has closed.


  23. Yes, the door closing. Another opening on the Peter Jackson film, and the opportunity to flex the character-acting muscles without the distractions of vapid female characters, or “taking the kit off”.

    At the same time, the characters of Guy and S7Lucas were so vivid, and at least Marian/LG provided a characte and acting match. As could have Elisivieta/Paloma, given a chance. It has been shattering to witness Lucas/John revealed as a Hollow Man. I might be inclined to watch again, maybe much later, purchase the DVD; at the moment, it feels masochistic.

    Suspect career choices are moving in a good direction. CA (has that even been confirmed?) for the money. And definitely LOTR. Presumably, the Hairy Dwarf won’t be required to take the kit off – not that I’ve had any objection to that in roles to date, or future roles..). Still, the career choices appear to be improving.


  24. Fitzg, there are photos of him in character for Captain America–a photo of him in this real working sub surfaced (haha) in a recent Entertainment Weekly (they have a large-scale version of the pic to see at RAnet) and the word is he is a “believably evil” Nazi henchman. He does like playing baddies, and I am sure he will be brilliant. And I am honestly kind of glad there are no female characters in The Hobbit, because at least I won’t have to look forward to despising some actress playing a chilly cold fish of a dwarf.

    Still refusing to see Lucas North as the Hollow Man. Not my vision of him. They tried to sell us a bill of goods. Right now I can’t even consider buying the DVDs; maybe, as you say, later.


  25. I can’t help but wonder if the writers initially intended for Lucas/John to be in season 10. Perhaps they were going to make “is he or isn’t he a traitor” be the cliffhanger. RA then left them scrambling to wrap up his character this season when he informed them he was going to New Zealand for a year.


    • Mulubinba — who has since hidden much of her blog — had some evidence that he was cast in November of 2009, which would have been while the script was still in development, I think. It filmed beginning in February 2010.

      If I haven’t said it, thanks for the comment and welcome to the blog, Rxlag1. I’m a bit overwhelmed at the moment but the more the merrier.


  26. I meant career OPPORTUNITIES! – mis-spoke. Nothing wrong with his choices, all good, in view of the offers. And the talent to perform rings around the scriptors’ convolutions.


  27. […] John really lose 25 IQ points in this scene, as the script implies? I say more about this script in my original episode review, but I find this scene hugely frustrating to watch even though I wasn’t per se an enemy of […]


  28. There were just so many plot holes created by Season 9, which is the problem with retcons as a whole. However, I generally tend to believe there is no reason to dismiss what Lucas said about his father in 7:6.

    Lucas North apparently lived in London, and had a high class background, whereas John may well have come from rural Cumbria. We can detect a faint hint of a Northern accent throughout the series (although of course that’s really just want remains of Armitage’s Leicestershire lilt)

    It would account for his choosing to attend the University of Leeds, rather than some more Southern location.

    Unless Lucas told John about his family, there’s no reason to assume he would have taken on that part of his identity.

    Of course, the whole Lucas/John story creates more problems than it resolves. Why didn’t the original Lucas North’s family report him missing when he never returned from Dakar?
    OK maybe he didn’t have any, but what about John Bateman? Why didn’t they too question his sudden disappearance?

    It also plays havoc with the timeline. If John was still at University when he ended up in Dakar, that would have made him no more than what, 21 when he joined M-15? 22 at the oldest.

    He also says the 1995 bombing happened “the year before I joined”, which means he joined M-15 in 1996. Presuming the events of Season 7 take place in late 2008, and the events of Season Nine in 2010, that means Lucas/John was imprisoned and captured in 2000. That leaves barely 4 years in which he apparently joined the Service, became “one of the best in the field” according to Harry in Season 7, and quickly rose through the ranks.
    In an interview, Armitage stated Lucas was poised to charge of Section D when he was captured in Russia.

    Four years for a Cumbrian farm boy (sorry Methodist Minister’s son) to, climb through he ranks, learn Russian, learn various other important spy skills, marry (and divorce) Elizabeta and be put under deep cover in Moscow? All this before he was even 30? Yeah, sorry, not buying it.

    I could accept that of Season 7-8 Lucas North, who is clearly highly intelligent and capable.
    I could accept it on a practical level too, because he looks to be closing in on 40 in Season 7 (even allowing for the ravages of incarcerations), making him significantly older than his fresh- faced colleagues in Section D such as Jo, Ben and Beth, and even early staples of the Series such as Tom and Zoe.

    But not of Season 9, “fresh out of university” John Bateman. I wonder sometimes if the writers of that Season, who were relative newbies, even watched the previous two Seasons.

    Of course, there are other problems too. Bateman was 3 inches at least taller than North, and North appears to have been several years older. You’d think the Security Services would have such details on record? They’re expecting some educated, urbane, Middle-Class chap, about 5″11 with brown eyes, and they get a strapping 6″2 black haired, blue eyed Cumbrian lad with “is that a Yorkshire accent Sir?”.

    Malcolm gazes dubiously at his application file….


  29. With regards to Lucas suicide. In an interview the following year, Peter Firth, who played Harry, said that at one point the writers were intending to have Harry shoot Lucas on the top of the building.

    He also claimed that final scene was meant to be quite different, involving a “helicopter and a long shot of a falling man”. He seemed to think that the whole Lucas not shown suicide was a last minute trad off because they ran out of money.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: