18 September 2015

Spooks 2.1: Legitimate Targets

Legitimate Targets is a triumphant return for the Spooks team. After the hit success of the first series, it would have been easy for the makers to rest on their laurels somewhat, or change the show to fit what the public thought it was like rather than what it was actually like. Thankfully, they seem to have done neither of these things, judging by this episode.

David Wolstencroft is very evil. The very start of the episode begins with the front door being blown off, followed by a pile of (very 2002 CGI) rubble filling the screen. After the way the last episode ended, of course we're supposed to think it's Tom's house and I fell for it hook, line and sinker. Even Danny in the next scene thinks the bomb's gone off. But it's all a diversion; it's actually a property in South London that's been attacked. It's a testament to this show that my heart was in my mouth when watching. Phew. But more on Ellie and co later.

This is an episode of misdirection and diversion though, and I really enjoyed it. This week the Serbs are out to get us as part of an uncle and nephew personal revenge scheme, and it's far from simple. It transpires in the end that they're looking to exact justice on the Brtisih military, and the ultimate way of doing that is to neutralise Cobra. To get to this stage, the small group stage a few weapons heists to get the authorities' attention. Luckily Tom has the same idea as me and changes the meeting's venue.

This is a good character episode as well though. Tom once more gets the lion's share of the limelight, but the others are included much more than in the first series. This seems to be Ellie's last episode, at least for the moment. After a terrifying brush with death, for both Tom and hers and Maisie's sakes, she forces Tom to choose: them or the service. You can probably guess his decision. It's pretty heartbreaking, not because I think they make an especially good couple (although they're by no means ill-matched) but thanks to Esther Hall's wonderful performance. She really is a quality actress and I'm surprised I've not seen more of her since. I understand showrunner David Wolstencroft's decision to write Ellie and Maisie out but it's still disappointing. The emerging storyline for this series would seem to be Danny and Zoe's growing romance.

On the subject of Zoe, this is probably her best episode yet. She gets a lot of scenes to herself and Keeley Hawes is excellent. There's a few nice setups and payoffs such as meeting the school 'friend' and her showing up at the worst possible time later on, and the man in the pub who looks like the terrorist Zoe must get close to. But the scope seems to be wider now, which is a great thing because it's less The Tom Quinn Show. Even he can't be in three places at once! I'm really glad we get to see more of Zoe though, and I hope that's something that continues in future episodes. Danny on the other hand is left floating pretty much, which both pleases and displeases me. On one side I'm glad he doesn't get much to do as I'm not a massive fan of the character, but on the other it just makes him seem even more redundant. Hopefully he'll get shot or something soon.

Staying with the regular team, Shauna Macdonald as Sam is a very welcome addition. She looks to be an excellent asset and is an immediately likeable character. I think I remember her from my original viewing of these episodes, but I've no idea how long she'll stick around. A long time I hope. Thanks to Macdonald's great performance, I'm already more of a fan of Sam than Danny. I was also thrilled to see Malcolm and Colin getting more to do. They'll become indispoable parts of the team over the next few years and it's nice to see them getting a bit more attention now. Hugh Simon's "bloody nora!" may be the best thing in the series yet, too.

Bharat Nalluri's return to the series is also welcome too. This episode looks great and professional. He does tend to favour a lot of mid-shots over close-ups but it works just as well. All in all, this is a thrilling and complete episode that heralds a brand new era of the show. Sam is a welcome addition, and I look forward to seeing more of her in future episodes. Elsewhere, this is probably Zoe's best outing and Matthew Macfadyen is still centre stage. Peter Firth is excellent as Harry and you can really see his range over the last two episodes; his manner at the Cobra meeting is a million miles from that in the last episode. A masterclass, and overall a brilliant relaunch.

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