09 October 2015

Spooks 4.2: The Special (Part Two)


The second part of Spooks' first double episode is markedly different to the first, and I think that's probably a good thing. It takes a turn towards the more action-oriented and that's probably ideal for an opener. To engage the audience for the rest of the season you want something that will grab them and that is of course down to your characters but to put it in more practical terms, you want lots of exciting visuals with a mystery for your audience to try and work out to show the series' range. And to be fair to Ben Richards, viewing the opening two episodes of the fourth series as one complete entity, he covers a lot of the bases.

This certainly feels like a busier episode than its predecessor. All of the leads are given plenty to do here which is quite an impressive achievement given how much I've moaned about some of the team's redundancy. Adam once again spends most of the episode with guest character Tash but the bond feels much more genuine here, and the final few scenes between them are really quite touching. Rupert Penry-Jones has developed sufficiently from the overconfident lad of those first series three episodes into a hero prepared to die for the ordinary man (or woman).

Newcomer Zaf more or less tags along with Adam after he saves his life and at the moment there isn't that much to distinguish the pair apart from the fact Zaf is a less mature incarnation not so bound by family.
Ruth is still siphoned off with the nutty professor for the majority of the episode but to be honest she doesn't have much of an impact on proceedings, which is frankly a dreadful misuse of the character. She's kept busy, that much is certain, but she doesn't actually do a lot apart from allow him to escape and sit in the cell with him, telling him to talk. Even Colin and Malcolm earn themselves a subplot and a new admirer in the form of Tash. Her friendship with them is really quite touching and it's a shame we don't get to see more of it.

It seems I was wrong about the guilt of Juliet Shaw. The culprit is in fact Grosvenor Square's senior operative Richard Boyd, and it seems the attempted hits on Professor Curtis' life were ordered by him in order to sever connections between him and Shining Dawn. Unfortunately for him he's not only hired the world's most incompetent hitman but also the most conspicuous. Seriously, this guy marches down the street with his knife brandished, heading straight for his target, and is surprised when they see him coming. Oh and he likes ploughing through fields looking menacing too. What a joke.

This episode is again directed by Antonia Bird, and although there were a few moments that I particularly liked, most of the visuals were pretty much unremarkable. There's some odd direction in that Adam can enter a room, give it a cursory glance and tell there isn't a bomb in it. It's hardly a thorough examination. On the subject of bombs, I felt the threat was reduced somewhat by MI5 defusing every one of the bombs they were made aware of. If they'd not managed to get to the third one, for example, the pressure would really have been on for the climax.

An improvement, then, but still not a great episode. This is, however, probably one of Ben Richards' stronger episodes and I hope the upward trend continues for the next episode, the fourth one in a row written by him. This has a distinctly different feel to the stories of the first two series and I'm not overjoyed to see the appointment of Juliet as a regular. Sam's gone without even an acknowledgement, I've learnt from a sneaky look on Spooks Wiki. That's a crime considering how good the character was, and I don't think much of her replacement. The tensions between the UK and America make a welcome return after a series off though, and I look forward to seeing how the series develops from here. An exciting episode but the lack of consequences and mischaracterisation holds it back somewhat.

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