Spooks Series 10 Opener Review: Endgame

SPOOKS: Sunday 18th September, BBC1, 9pm

JUMPING on the bandwagon of Harry Potter’s apocalyptic marketing campaign this summer, the TV adverts for the final series of Spooks have been haunted by the phrase: ‘This Is The End’. [capitalisation of every word is vital, of course.] These days, there’s a little bit too much love for endings – especially as the world is supposed to be ending next year. And that’s a horrible bandwagon to jump on.

Talking of bandwagons, if you were teased into watching Spooks for the very first time last night, you would have been thoroughly confused. Bamboozled, even. Conboozled and bamfused at the same time. Last night’s opener required a lot of pre-knowledge of the past nine series, in particular the most recent where the legendary Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) is ousted from the circus for putting personal matters first and revealing state secrets.

It’s clear from the very beginning that this tenth series is very much concerned with the life and times of Harry Pearce – which is only appropriate as he’s the beating heart of the show. He’s practically a national treasure; a stalwart of patriotism, loyalty and honour. For some, he’s a father figure. For others – a young Russian assassin called Sasha for example, Harry is a father. Yes, it was revealed at the end of last night’s opener that Harry has an estranged Russian son. A son that wants to kill him. Daddy issues, daddy issues.

Poor old Spooks hasn’t had it easy in the pre-season build-up. The BBC have thrust it head-to-head against the mighty Downton Abbey, and this final run also coincides with the release of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy at the cinemas. Spooks and Tinker are worlds apart, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that one is brilliant-fantastic-amazing and the other is “crapâ€?, as John Le Carre said of the BBC show earlier this week.

Spooks is mainly critiqued for its lack of realism, which is quite frankly stupid as it never masquerades as a realistic representation of life in the secret services. Sometimes realism can equate to boredom, and I found parts of Tinker very tedious. Maybe I’m being a little over-protective as I’ve followed Spooks from the very beginning, but this long running series with compelling storylines, gobsmack twists and complex characters is definitely not “crapâ€?.

In such a tense and uptight series, moments of comic relief are rare but essential. Last night, when asked if he had ever considered a life away from MI-5, good old Harry sharply retorted with, ‘at one particularly dark moment, I actually considered gardening’. The Home Secretary is particularly funny. He is the most bumbling of bumbling fools and can only be compared to floppy-haired Boris Johnson: the King of bumbling and foolery. The Home Secretary almost breaks (under) cover when he addresses Ruth by her real name, instead of her made-up special operation name. ‘OH BALLS, did I ruin everything?’ he says, bumbling.

The storyline for the next five episodes looks absolutely thrilling. Cold War enemies Harry and Gavrik (Johnathon Hyde, Jumanji, Titantic) are forced to become friends, as the UK “is getting into bed with Russia.â€? The last time Harry got into bed with Russia, Sasha was conceived. Who knows what will happen this time? There will be death, drama, tears, bizarre gadgets, explosions, chases and lots of tension. Spooks is going out with an almighty bang. This Is The End … of my review.