This year, the BBC are pitting Spooks in a ratings battle with current UK drama darling Downton Abbey, a battle it probably will not win, no matter how many characters it slaughters. Fortunately, it’s the last series anyway, so the question of whether poor viewing figures might result in cancellation is moot.
But leaving the ratings horserace aside: was it actually any good?
The Sir Harry Pearce Show
Well, after the Shakespearean downfall of Lucas North last series, Spooks finds itself for the first time without a handsome, angst-ridden leading man. Instead of continuing the Quinn/Carter/North legacy, the writers are choosing to focus on Sir Harry Pearce, who has become main character by dint of sheer longevity.
Since this is the final year, I’m inclined to give them this one, even if their failure to provide a new head spy smacks of budget constraints. Harry has been the one constant from the very beginning, and it’s probably apt enough that the show ends by finally taking him down. I only hope that nothing too horrible happens to the poor guy.
On the other hand, this focus also means more of the Harry/Ruth romance, a relationship I’ve never found overly convincing. Still, at least he hasn’t proposed again. (Yet.)
The Human Resources Department
Elsewhere, we have two new spies, Calum and Erin, and Sophia Myles’s Beth Bailey has been shuffled off in a one-line write-out. Fair enough, they never did much with her after one initial storyline. And yes, Dimitri fans, he is still there, looking as pretty and doing as little as ever.
The new characters aren’t bad, although Erin is a little too constantly model-gorgeous to be a convincing action heroine. Still, her family storyline promises awful drama in the future; when has a Spooks character trying to maintain a normal life ever ended well? Would they kill a child on-screen to ramp up the final series drama, or would that be excessive?
Storyline-wise, we appear to be headed for an arc-driven year. They introduce enough complications this week to easily keep us humming for six episodes. So even if Downton Abbey trounces Spooks in the ratings, hopefully this will be a satisfying final run, not to mention one with heavy fatalities. Check the episode out on iPlayer and let us know how you’re feeling about the oncoming end.