Thursday 30 December 2010

Impressions From my Re-watching Spooks 9

Harry and Lucas’ Weapon in episode 9.7
When Harry gives Lucas his pistol back, I first thought, he gave it back to him because he wanted to give Lucas a chance for an ‘honourable death’ like harakiri. – Quite dramatic interpretation of me, but the whole atmosphere of the situation and the body language even while re-watching, drives me to this interpretation. From here on I had no doubt any longer, that Lucas / John had to go at the end of series 9.
Harry does not trust Lucas, but still gives him back his ‘professional status’ as MI-5 spy with a ‘license to kill’.
(I know this quotation refers to another spy, but it fits so correctly here, except, that Lucas does not kill any longer.)
But Harry reestablishes Lucas / John Bateman as a spy.
He applies to his sense of duty and honour, though he does nothing of this kind in his speache and interrogation of Lucas. He in a way offers acceptance and expecting himself, that Lucas will follow through with a right way of acting.
In an outsiders point of view, Harry’s action means, that he lets a ‘foreigner’, an unknown entity (=John Bateman), into the MI-5.
I still do not see the whole breadths of significance of this scene, but it impressed me greatly none the less.
“Betraying is a cancer. Let it eat your soul …”
This statement of Harry reminded me very much of the interrogation scenes of Spooks 7.7, where Harry was at the receiving end. Harry was innocent or at least innocent in the way of the accusation. Should this be compared as a parallel or in contrast to the current situation?
Could this possibly tell us something about Lucas’/John’s ‘guilt’ or about Harry’s reasoning for letting Lucas/John go?

Lucas and a Mercedes
The clearest sign that Lucas is irretrievably bad I saw, but discarded immediately. It was in episode 9.6, when Lucas changes cars with the computer specialist and swaps his tracked car for an unmarked Mercedes.
You will ask what significance does that have? But totally in Anglo-American tradition, all baddies drive expensive German cars ;o)
I feared from this time on, but still had some hope that Spooks would ignore such old traditions and think on its own. But tradition seems to die hard.
I do not mind baddies using German cars as at least they have nice cars. I would mind much more if they were not used at all. But as I myself can drive but do not have a car myself (As I am living in the center of a town), this rather is a topic of slight amusement for me to recognize and not a matter of further importance.
Still I should have given that aspect more attention, especially when the situation was repeated in episode 9.7, when Vaughan was driving a Mercedes as well.
It is the only correct or at least afterwards correctly readable hint I detected so far about Lucas / John clearly being bad. – And here I threw all the obvious signs in the wind, because I thought that can’t be true ;o)
- I must ad that I live near a big Mercedes building with lots of expensive cars on display. If only all Mercedes drivers were like Lucas – what a funny idea. Perhaps I should go to the building and have a look? – Not really serious about that. I do already know Mercedes drivers enough and know they cannot compare ;o)

Lucas the outspoken (9.4)
You will wonder, what can come now. The silent and brooding Lucas North is not outspoken.
What rubbed me quite the wrong way and absolutely sounded unbelievable for the Lucas character as I had imagined him was the outspokenness Lucas suddenly and only for a short moment shows in Spooks 9.4.
Here the emotionally minimal and restricted is suddenly outspoken and openly shouts through a populated clinic corridor. For me that was absolutely unbelievable.
Even the acting of RA did not convince me in this situation, though normally he can make every situation believable for me.
What went wrong with this scene?
Lucas / John shouts as if he is angry or sends an urgent warning. Richard Armitage who does audio books where even the slightest nuance is right astonished me here. Why does he send such a strange message here?
Was it originally planned for another context? – I always thought relieve was a quiet feeling, not a shouting outburst.

Was Lucas really killing the American Computer Specialist? (9.6)
The whole scene of Spooks 9.6 is supporting that Lucas is actually speeding the death of the computer specialist.
I still did doubt this, as in the first aid courses I did, we learned, that the arteries at the throat were the only place, where pressure would not work. This explanation might be wrong or misleading - I am in no way a specialist.
But still it made me doubt that Lucas would have been able to save her anyway.
His movements give the impression that he wants to comfort her in her last moments and I cannot decide, if Lucas actually does something to kill her or he becomes aware or already knows that her wound is hopeless anyway and wants to give her comfort and not pain by his pressure in her last moments of life.
Good or bad always is so close together for Lucas / John.
All in all it is a brilliantly executed sequence in Spooks 9.6, which once again shows that minimal movements by Richard Armitage can show a multitude of emotions, different possible interpretations and an enormous character depth.

Music and Film Intentions (series 9)
Were the composers of the soundtrack not informed about the intended storyline of Spooks 9?
This I wondered throughout series 9, when the previously used ‘Russian’ elements kept turning up around Lucas North.
By re-watching this not quite fitting element even disturbed me more. I usually need a few times of watching a film, till I really pay attention to the soundtrack. But this element here was so disturbing, that by first watching Spooks 9 I definitely thought, a Russian connection would turn up for Lucas / John in the film.
But nothing, so even the music was a misleading hint concerning Lucas.

Storylines of Sequences work
After re-watching now all parts of Spooks 9 from episode 1 to 6 I finally came to the conclusion, what I feel does not add up in series 9 solely is related to the Lucas / John character. All the hints about him contradict themselves as his character does.
That makes it very hard to get a clear idea what Lucas and John were meant to be, because the hints go in all directions.
The positive result of re-watching the whole of Spooks 9 was that it made me realize how much I adore the storyline of each episode. There I could not detect the slightest flaw. They are dramatic, in themselves consistent and just wonderfully executed.
The only dissent I have with Spooks 9 really is centered on the character development and the hints surrounding Lucas North and his transformation into John Bateman and then into a Nobody.
Each single episode for me works perfectly in itself.
By re-watching I found out, that the logic of each episode made complete sense for me and here in the storyline I found no breaking points disturbing the whole picture or flux of the events.
The hints about Lucas / John in some way play with the expectations about his character.
Beth expects him to be a certain person, Harry does the same and presses him into a role during the interrogation, Ruth while talking to him expects him to act in a certain way. All these expectations Lucas / John clearly tries to destroy, though he still acts in a very caring way. He cares for Maya, even after her obvious betrayal, he cares for Ruth and easily can be convinced to give Harry the details earlier than intended, he even cares for Beth and Dimitri, when he shoots into the wheels of their car, he never aims his weapon at them.

I finally must reveal, I love the Lucas / John of Spooks 9.8. Only such an excellent actor as Richard Armitage could make this script work here. The scriptwriters here very much relied on his talent. (This gives me hope that they really did appreciate what they had with Richard Armitage.)


  1. I am grateful that you are analyzing this so carefully. I don't know if I could bear a rewatch so soon!
    I agree that Lucas / John was still acting "in a caring way" even though he was doing wrong. He threatens his colleagues with his gun on several occasions but never shoots any of them. I also thought he held that girl (whom he allowed to bleed to death) very tenderly. It was quite a chilling moment. I had to believe he knew the ambulance would not make it in time! There was a big discussion about this on C19 with some believing as I did, that it was not such an evil act and others -- quite angry at that sort of thinking, who believed it was the most evil act of all! I didn't want to get into that discussion, it was too heated!

  2. @phylly3
    Thank you for your nice feedback.
    I absolutely agree with you about the death scene of the American computer specialist.
    Fortunately, I did not see the discussion on C19. I would not like to get into a heated debate about that, as in my opinion it is the ambiguity which drives this scene and makes it exceptional.
    That RA could get all the difficult nuances in this exceedingly complicated scene just right and did leave space for all possible interpretation in my opinion is the best sign, that as an actor he is absolutely brilliant and can do just everything he wants to.

    Now that I am finished with my re-watch, I must say that I am glad I did it. At the beginning I was not convinced and even wanted to turn off episode 9.1 and hesitated after each episode to go on. I thought it would make matters worse, but to my surprise it did not, on the contrary, the last two episodes solved quite a lot for me.

  3. Loved your remark on the mercedes, I didn't notice that bad guys drive those cars nor that Lucas or Vaughn, did on the show.

    When I saw the scene with the computer analyst, I had the impression he actually hung up when she mentioned the file, but I don't think it has been seen like that by others. Then when he took away the pressure from her neck, it looks suspicious, you could argue though, that she was shot some time ago and all the time she's been bleeding when he went to her he might have realized it was too late. If he did kill her (in intention by not applying the pressure) and so had no problem with that, how is it, he couldn't kill Vaughn or his colleagues even when they endangered his plan to be with Maya?

    "The only dissent I have with Spooks 9 really is centered on the character development and the hints surrounding Lucas North and his transformation into John Bateman and then into a Nobody." I think this is the mayor problem for us, Lucas fans. We're given a certain character, who was consistent through 2 seasons, then we are given odd hints that keeps you guessing but not really consistent as to transform him as you say in Nobody.

    I'd like to be more explicit with examples but like Phylly, is too soon for me to do a re-watch like you and so I don't have all the details in my head.

    OML :)

  4. @onemorelurker1
    Thank you very much for your comment. I can understand your hesitation to re-watch Spooks 9 very much. I can only say, do not rush it, do it, when you feel comfortable with it. For me, it was a relieve at the end of the year and I somehow could get rid of the feeling of helplessness I had concerning the script developments.
    With Lucas calling the ambulance for the computer specialist, I think I concluded from the later visible team on the ground that he indeed did call it. Otherwise I would have seen it the same way as you had, that he hung up the telephone at that moment.
    He also did request not only a medical team, but also an 'evac', so he clearly indicated the near and possible death of her for me.
    But I think RA was really great in making all kinds of explanations possible and for leaving everything open for all kinds of interpretation.
    This is one of the most brilliant scenes of Spooks 9 for me, though I do not have one right interpretation for it. I absolutely admire its ambiguity.
    Hope you had a good start into the New Year. All the best for 2011 to you!

  5. That you can't trust people driving a Mercedes was ingrained in me from The X-Files back in the day! ;)

    When I re-watched the episode with the computer analyst, I also got the impression that he hung up when she mentioned the file. The first time around, and technically partially the second too, the removal of the pressure seemed to not be so much to let her die, but that she was slipping away and wouldn't be able to be saved in time anyway, so he let her go as gently as he could. So to speak. With the murderous bastard Bateman turned out to be, it probably was a callous thing, but Lucas wasn't callous deep down. The bomb in the Tube, for instance. It wasn't a bomb at all, just a distraction. So I'm still undecided, I think. Although I think I'll err on the side of selective memory. Swiss Cheese Season never happened!

  6. @Traxy
    I completely agree with you. For a 'murderous bastard' he was so caring and gentle.
    I am not sure if the scriptwriters wanted to show us the character contrast, that mass murderers usually are caring family men.
    But your advice is the best - selective memory: I will only remember the caring side of Lucas / John ;o) - I really do love Swiss cheese!