That Armitage thunk

The manipulator: Lucas North (Richard Armitage) convinces Ashok Veerkal (Ashley Kumar) that he has to help MI-5 neutralize the terrorists in Spooks 8.7. Source:

Given the stress of the last few weeks, my actual Armitage watching quotient had fallen significantly, to below seven hours a week. Yes, I know, you think that’s a lot, but there were weeks in Spring 2010 when I was watching something like twenty hours a week or more. I was probably watching ten-fifteen hours weekly through April. But the move took up so much time.

The hero: Lucas North (Richard Armitage) walks into the room with the terrorists unarmed and identifies himself as an MI-5 agent in Spooks 8.7. Source:

At the very end, I had compressed the watching to mostly the compulsive screening of Spooks 8.7. I probably need to write a long analysis of this episode now, but since that’s not the topic for tonight, I’ll spare you. Why this one? Sarah-haters would say that it’s great because there’s no Sarah in it. Lucas as hero lovers would like it because Lucas is really heroic. One must also admit that Lucas just looks great in this episode, as he does in all of series 8.

Armitage the arresting: Lucas North (Richard Armitage) in conversation with Hamid Ahmed, the Sanskrit translator, in Spooks 8.7. Source:

I think what moves me so much about it are the two sides we see to Lucas’ heroism: just as much the man who manipulates to achieve the result he wishes as the strong man who powers his way into a room to fulfill his promise to Ashok — to save Ashok from the danger that he himself put Ashok in. I also continue to be intrigued by the exploration in Spooks about the balance between the welfare of individuals and that of groups. But that by the bye.

Weary thoughtfulness: Lucas North (Richard Armitage) reacts as Ashok points out to him that he’s acted just as much in political or self-interest as the people who planned the terrorist attack, in Spooks 8.7. Source:

Given everything of Armitage’s spectrum of talents that one can see on display in Spooks 8.7, I don’t know why I was worried, but there’s always this little nagging fear in the back of my mind: have I chosen badly? Am I just loving on the eye candy here? Anyone can say words: is it the scripts, and not Armitage himself? This problem is exacerbated for me to some extent by the fact that so much of the new stuff we’ve seen lately is photos. Photos generate automatic squee; even when I think Mr. Armitage is dressed poorly, I still get a big kick out of seeing new (and old!) pictures of him. Dayenu, one’s tempted to say — if you had only been gorgeous, it would have been enough — except, of course, that I contracted Armitagemania out of something more than reactions to a beautiful visage, a toned body.

So putting the Sylvester audiobook into my car stereo after so long, I was nervous. Would he still be as good? Yes, but of course, he’s reading that, and not acting in the same way — although I wondered if he didn’t assume different physical postures for the different characters as he was reading. Then tonight, figuring out how to get my DVD player hooked up into my parents’ system, and deciding, since they have a really nice TV with a big screen, much nicer than the one I had, to watch a few pieces of The Impressionists to benefit from all of that color, I had it, the Armitage thunk. It was a combination of muscle relaxation from tension about the choice, a feeling of euphoric jubilation, and the sort of feeling that you have when you shift your car into drive and step on the gas.

The feeling as if everything was falling into place again after all the disruption of the last weeks.

Claude Monet (Richard Armitage) greets the morning sun at the seashore in episode 2 of The Impressionists. Source:

Mr. Armitage, you are talented even when you wear a funny wig.

Claude Monet (Richard Armitage) at his wife’s deathbed in episode 2 of the The Impressionists. Source:

Mr. Armitage, your acting talent comes through even when you don’t say a single world.

Thunk. That combination of talents and gifts. We can add to it the physical beauty and the personal charm, of course, but when it all comes together in a rush, the amazing package reminds of the value of this particular choice. The thunk of realization, of recognition. The thunk of joy. The thunk of artistry as it hits its target, as it never fails to move me even after dozens of watchings of the same material.

That Armitage thunk.

~ by Servetus on June 24, 2011.

16 Responses to “That Armitage thunk”

  1. Bravo!


  2. Servetus I hope that your stres levels are settling now after all the big changes.

    That episode of Spooks is one of my all time favourites. I love the exchange where Ashok asks who he thinks he is and Lucas replies that he is the man he has to be to do the job. It is just so unbelievably painful.


  3. You are amazing to have come up with one word that aptly describes all those feelings. Now it’s stuck in my head and as I am re-re-re- ++ watching N&S for the upcoming Retrospective I know already I will have lots of “thunk” moments!! 🙂 So thank you!


    • Should of course have said that I found 8.7 one of the best in the series. Not only no SC but as tense an ending that you would want to watch. I felt it keenly when Ashok called him “liar man” when he could have got himself killed going in to rescue him. *Reminds self that it is only a show!!* He really was again the Lucas we loved in S7. I love how he looked in that tight blue sweater, or “jumper” as he would call it 😉 Yum!!


      • I agree, that whole dialogue strand (also, “I should believe the word of a liar?” earlier in the ep) was both scripted and delivered really effectively. Ashley Kumar is a great actor — one only hopes he doesn’t get pushed into a box because he’s Asian.


  4. When Lucas was heroic, boy was he heroic. I look at these screencaps and I do not recognize at all the little-boyish, amoral murderer John Bateman.

    A tribute to the actor’s talent. He is, as Hermione Norris said, sublime.

    No, Servetus, you definitely do not have it wrong. When I am making my slideshow vids, I am amazed not just at his physical beauty, but how much he expresses when he is just “being” and not saying a word. Amazing.

    He’s a keeper.


  5. One of my favourite Spooks episodes of all time, right there with, for example, 2.5 (I think that was the military story) and of course the EERIE episode! Lucas the beautiful, Lucas the rebellious hero, going it alone without Harry’s approval, Lucas the intelletual, quoting Hindu scripture and conversing with the Sanskrit translator about moral dilemmas, of course also Lucas the manipulator, but, contrary to Ros, he worries about what he has to do. he is visibly hurt by Ashok’s outburst. Ros appears to be almost sociopathic in this episode, until the end, when she thanks him with something like warmth in her voice.

    Interestingly, last time I watched it, OH came home early. He really dislikes RA, and he isn’t keen on Spooks, but he stood tehre and could not stop watching the final minutes.

    John Bateman? Who is John Bateman? 😉


  6. 8:7 was the saving grace of that series (imo). The themes of moral dilemma, masks and manipulator/manipulated would be a fascinating discussion. The more I watch S8, the more regrettable the mismanagement or mis-direction of G0’R seems. The relationship between Sarah and Lucas could have been so much better with some subtlety. Actually, one has to feel for the actress, fighting the overwhelming necessity to maintain an accent, as well as the woeful hair/make-up. She had flashes of really good acting.


    • The thing about this episode was that (uniquely in this series) it was almost completely detached from the Nightingale plot except that you find out that the egging on of the terrorists is a Nightingale activity. It was a story in itself — and I think that was one thing that made it great.


  7. Thank you for reminding me of that episode. I only saw it once as I don’t own the DVD yet. I do remember it very well though. You are so right about those of us who admire Lucas as a heroic figure loving that episode! Now you have given me the impetus to finally order that DVD!!
    Lovely screen caps, especially the first one! 🙂


  8. […] to the fantasy Armitage — and why it is that a glance can trigger such a wave of euphoria. I’ve had this experience, after a brief Armitage break, and so have sister bloggers. There’s a deceptive similarity […]


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