TV Review: Spooks, BBC One, Monday 17 November, 9pm


A refreshing change from the usual theme of this series last night, as the team left Al Qaeda in a box under the bed for the week while they tackled a banking crisis artificially engendered by international financier Alexis Meynell, played with deliciously superior menace by Paul Rhys. And in a shocking development, the high-level mole in the Sugarhorse affair was revealed!

Having torn Connie’s home apart looking for evidence that she was the mole, and finding nothing, Harry discovers a tape in a strange memento given to Connie by her long-time partner and fellow spook on his death bed. She has always been a bit peeved that he never told her how he really felt, and couldn’t find anything more appropriate as his final gift, but the tape finally addresses that failing as well as completely absolving Connie.

So Harry is left with no choice but to ask Lucas to use his extraordinary mental powers to remember anything useful from his time under interrogation about Sugarhorse. Lucas is horrified – he was tortured for 17 days straight – and initially refuses. But alone in his flat he remembers hearing several mentions of polonik – the pilgrim – and Harry’s intelligence reveals this to be none other than Qualtrough – Spycatcher – the very man whose help Harry had enlisted to look for the mole! (Dun-dun-durrrrr)

Meanwhile Ros has gone undercover at Meynell’s office to try to secure evidence of what he’s doing and convince the ineffectual Chancellor Gillian Calderwood to freeze his assets. Meynell’s sidekick labours under the rather unfortunate name of Asa Darlek, which threw me out of Spooks world and into the Tardis each time I heard it. True to his name, he did (almost) shout “exterminate” at the end, when his plan to bring down the UK economy with billions of pounds of Russian mafia money was thwarted at the very last second by a complex double-counter-anti-mega bluff. But even with a gun at her head the awesome Ros is never without a move, and she escaped with her life and her spooky credentials intact.

Sadly the same cannot be said for Jo – she of the cropped ash-blonde hair and permanently startled look – who caught sight of her rapist Boscard in Meynell’s office (despite the fact that he’s supposed to be dead) and fell into a sweating, panting heap. The poor girl’s on the edge and the photos of a dead Boscard that Ros showed her were barely enough to bring her back into balance. For now.

Definitely one of the best stories so far in what has been an impressive series, if a little heavy on the Islamic terrorist side at times. With three episodes to go the Sugarhorse story is building nicely to a crescendo, and it looks virtually certain that Jo’s fragile mental state will play a part in the denouement too. Can’t wait!

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