Friday 12 November 2010

Spooks 9 [Article contains SPOILERS]

For a long time, I tried to find out, why I did not like series 9 of "Spooks".
I loved all the unexpected twists of all the series before. I even accepted Tom Quinn's exit, though I really loved his human touch in contrast to the inhuman demands of the service.
I loved the female spooks a lot and still do like the current female protagonists at the grid. I do not so much care for the development between Ruth and Harry, as I think it is a bit overblown. But still, I see the necessity of it for plot developments and giving things an outer human perspective without leaving the grid.
So why do I not like the developments of series 9?
I must admit, I am a RA-fan. (Now it is revealed, what you would have suspected anyway ;o)
But I am also a Spooks-fan.
Most of all, I expected RA to go down and do something really bad in Spooks 9. So that was not a big surprise for me. His interviews gave that much away for me.
What I do not like about Spooks 9 is, that even RA (Lucas/ John) turning bad is not done in a comprehensible or understandable way. All explanations or background information are completely left obscure.
The result is, that we as viewers see an empty shell of a person (and that in my opinion is a brilliant concept of the scriptwriters).
But nothing makes this development believable in any way. On the contrary, every character who might have been able to tell us more about John’s background dies too soon in the process to reveal anything definitive. So the scriptwriters leave us empty handed and as blank as Lucas / John. We do not find his character any better than he himself is able to – and that is very unsatisfactory for me as a viewer.

In real live I have problems enough, in a film I want solutions or at least some hints, what the scriptwriters might have meant. Some nice ambiguity also is fine with me.

But the hints in Spooks 9 and left over’s from the previous series were there in such an ambundance, that my speculations went crazy.
Nothing added up and nothing lead to something. Just nothing and a complete broken (body and soul) character for which I do not even have a name in the end. Because I really doubt that John Bateman was his real childhood identity. It was, as far as we know, just the identity he had when he met Maya (though here he could have had a different last name, as she never acknowledges him as ‘John Bateman’ but only as ‘John’) and Vaughan (who went to great length to reach out to John/Lucas).
Why did Vaughan not abduct Ruth and directly tried to get the files from Harry? He had the contact, knowledge and could easily have discovered the necessary background between Ruth and Harry.
In one fascinating blog “Me+Richard” maintained by Servetus I wrote a comment, that before I saw episode 9.8 I wrote down open questions. The amount of 50 questions was not exaggerated. I collected some more in the meantime after watching 9.8.
But the worst of series 9 for me is, that I think that leaving the viewer without a clue and disturbing all rational thought was exactly what the scriptwriters wanted to reach. They got us, the viewers into exactly that disturbing position Lucas / John found himself in:

Nothing around him made sense and he had no character to rely upon or feel comfortable with.

What a disturbing and brilliant series 9 of Spooks!
I do not think the scriptwriters were not competent enough to give us answers, but I think they did it on purpose to leave us without any kind of resolution or completion.
I think this feeling of having nothing definitive is which brings one close to taking one’s life. How cruel of the scriptwriters to get us into such a state, but still – very brilliantly executed and very sensitive about the crisis Lucas/John is in.


  1. Well put! I was so confused and left empty, too confused to comprehend how confused I was that this was the result the writers were aiming for.
    Though anger came in shortly somewhere along in processing the emotional rollercoaster ride. I felt manipulated in NOT getting some lost ends of threads tying the 3 seasons together.

  2. @iz4blue
    I completely agree with you. It took me a while to overcome my anger and to figure out, that the scriptwriters cannot have left all the questions unanswered by accident.
    But still I have problems to appreciate their way of telling the story. I hate beeing left behind with all my questions. What is storytelling (here filmmaking) about when opening a Pandora's box of questions and leaving them unanswered?
    They would need more than series 10 to answer all of them and here they already have enough to do to get Harry back on the grid.

  3. "I think this feeling of having nothing definitive is which brings one close to taking one’s life. "
    If that feeling was what the scriptwriter wanted to accomplish then they did their job very well, at least with me.
    I've said I cried with that final, since the moment Lucas appeared on the roof I could see it coming, that Lucas' feeling of having nothing, not having achieved anything, that emptyness told me he would take his life and I cried because of it.

    Congrats on your blog!

    OML :)

  4. @onemorelurker1
    Thank you for visiting and your nice feedback!
    As I mentioned to @iz4blue, I for a long time was really angry with the scriptwriters.
    After writing this post and coming to this conclusion, I somehow resolved my anger a bit. I concluded that the scriptwriters just played such a cruel trick with us viewers.

    I was not so very sad but disappointed at the end, because I doubted everything, even that Lucas / John really jumped. Spooks not showing something raised all my alarm bells, but perhaps they wanted to leave that part for Spooks 10.