Chris Connor reviews the third episode of Slow Horses…
Following the promise of its opening two episodes and the cliffhanger where things left off, Slow Horses ratchets up the tension and stakes in its third episode, which considerably moves along the plot of the series navigating several unexpected twists and certain to please fans of Mick Herron’s novels.
The second episode ended with one of Jackson Lamb’s Slow Horses being shot investigating the home of far right journalist Robert Hobden. We pick up here shortly after this incident with an opening segment involving Min Harper and Louisa Guy, with this episode giving both characters more room to breathe; as in the novels, it feels like the series is affording opportunities for all of its central cast to have their moment in the spotlight and feel fully rounded. The pair are seemingly becoming close and perhaps more than colleagues when they stumble upon an incident in Slough House which adds even more intrigue to an already busy series. It’s safe to say the implication is that Regents Park are placing a close eye on those in Slough House and this begins a war of words between Gary Oldman’s Jackson Lamb and Kristin Scott Thomas’ Diana Taverner.
The interactions between the pair, each trying to assert dominance over the over with both seemingly having dirt on the other adds a sense of scale to the show and it is thrilling to see two giants of British cinema facing off against each other on the small screen – let’s hope there are more scenes of this calibre later in the series. Jack Lowden continues to impress as River Cartwright although with the burgeoning ensemble his role here is smaller than the opening episodes. Each of our central Slow Horses feel almost lifted from the source material – hardly surprising with a cast of this quality but it is a testament to the care and attention the writers have put into making the world of Mick Herron’s books feel like it belongs on the small screen and little has been lost in the leap from page to screen.
This episode is fast paced and packed full of action with a lot of running from place to place but a sense of urgency is retained throughout as we feel the agents race against time to get to the bottom of what is going on with the Sons of Albion and the kidnapping of Hassan Ahmed. Even with a thrill a minute feel to proceedings the episode manages to hold on to the dark humour and tone of the novels that has won over readers and now TV audiences. This feels like a hybrid of the long running BBC series Spooks with its scope and scale, married with the more introspective tone of John Le Carré and a focus on the inner workings of spy circles.
‘Bad Tradecraft’ builds emphatically on the class of the opening two episodes of Slow Horses, with many of the character introductions and world building out of the way the episode is able to run at a fast pace, unravelling the plot and introducing new subplots that will playout over the remainder of the series. Unlike some espionage dramas the series doesn’t insult the audiences intelligence and the dialogue remains sharp and helps the series stand out from some of its competitors as one of the strongest spy thrillers of recent times. Given the quality of the source material, audiences are likely to love the remainder of the series and based on the evidence so far the cast and crew are more than up to the challenge of making this a show for the ages.