24 September 2015

Spooks 2.7: Clean Skin

Clean Skin is an unusual episode. It deals with issues that previous stories haven't covered, which is always good, but very much feels like it's there to make up the numbers which no story should - and the last two haven't even though technically they weren't necessary at all. This is Simon Mirren's last episode of Spooks, and I think I can see part of the reason why.

The pre-titles lands Harry right in it as not only does he forget to take a very important briefcase to work but said briefcase is then burgled during a planned (for no explicable reason) break in. The case contains a lot of information about a superweapon the French own, which coincidentally are needed on the exact day of the robbery. Fortunately, one of the burglars spills a little blood at the crime scene and so Harry and Tom are able to pay a little visit to try and recover the stolen goods. However, when they get there, the case has of course been burnt. Luckily one of the gang is a child genius (like that one in episode three) and has memorised all the codes needed to secure the aforementioned superweapon, Firestorm.

Just as coincidentally, at the same time Ruth and Zoe are scouring the archives for criminals on the books for use in an operation involving Firestorm. And of course they're coming up short. Using the child genius, who's wanted for theft, they can steal a copy of Firestorm for themselves. Not planting the boy with any equipment means complete deniability if it goes wrong. "But why should he help them?" you might ask, validly. In the stolen case was a fake mobile phone. The boy accidentally shot his friend with it, and is bargaining with his care in return for doing what MI5 ask. Luckily, the kid can think on his feet and manages to recover the whole laptop for Tom.

A complication of this whole thing is Danny being stuck with a French secret service bloke who all women seem to find insanely attractive purely because he's French - the bastard - but this plays out like such a pale imitation of last week's plot to hide what's really going on from the Americans it's barely worth mentioning. So that's all I'll say about that.

Elsewhere, everything is more or less as normal. Mirren mischaracterises a lot of the regulars though, and it's quite distracting. Zoe is a real bitch towards Harry for no good reason and I think it's a bit rich coming from her when she was treading on eggshells around him last week after screwing up herself. Besides, it's not Harry's personal responsibility to make sure failsafe electronic security pervades throughout his house, so her outrage seems even less justified. It really is quite odd. Sam melts spontaneously at the sight of the French bloke, a trait which even the wonderful Shauna Macdonald can only just save. Her little chat with him in French may sound impressive, but it's really not, it consists of "Careful, it's very hot," referring to some tea, and "Thank you.". Woah. I could translate that with zero difficulty and I only just scraped through my GCSE. It's worrying that the rest of MI5 - yes, that's MI5 - are perplexed by this intellectually unstimulating exchange. And then Tom gives out his home phone number to a 14-year-old who should be behind bars. It's horrific personality reassignment.

So overall, a less impressive episode that I wouldn't miss if it had been cut. That said, it's still Spooks and so it's still pretty enjoyable. I must commend whoever picked the exterior for the building to break into though. In reality, it's an IT data centre, and one of many used by a company who a friend of manages IT security for. It's eternally known as the 'Spooks data centre' between us now. Clean Skin is decent but not exactly riveting. The 'street speak' is of its usual TV quality and nearly even line of the gang's made me cringe, but I can see past that. Neither of Mirren's episodes have been particularly good, and I'd much rather another filler episode from David Wolstencroft or Howard Brenton. It shows how well you know your show when you can write a standalone episode that is as good as the last two, and unfortunately this is never going to be able to compete coming of the back of them.

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