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Slow Horses - Fiasco - Review

The Slow Horses are on the run; abandoned by MI5 and thrown to the dogs. Lamb and Cartwright are on their own to find proof that Taverner orchestrated the Sons of Albion plot – whilst the rest of Slough House have to fend for themselves. Meanwhile; with the clock ticking closer to zero – or in this case, 6am and sunrise, the kidnappers are driving until they run out of fuel; unsure as to whether to follow through with their plan.

Lamb and Cartwright’s heist of MI5 stretched credibility but was a fun watch – and who cares about credibility when you get to see Lamb turn up at MI5’s headquarters, play 500 Miles loudly over the car speakers; tell Taverner that he planted a bomb in the car he just dropped off – and use that as a decoy for Cartwright to sneak in and find proof in Webb’s office? Webb, ever the opportunist, kept a copy of the photo that was needed as evidence and Cartwright; knowing Webb, was able to play that to his strengths. The false reveal of the body being caught by MI5’s being Webb wrapped up in costume rather than Cartwright was predictable before it was revealed but no less satisfying to watch Cartwright walk into the room, scuppering Taverner’s plans.

Like The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, I’m starting to think Slow Horses was probably better off being a movie and I wonder if that’s going to be a problem with most of AppleTV+’s six-episode seasons as they do feel like they could have been trimmed to a tighter two hours. The six-episode count is starting to show its weight when episode five was essentially just the same broad structure as the one before; Cartwright breaks into somewhere and breaks out again, the Sons of Albion are still in the car, but there was enough entertainment at least about this to make this stage-setting episode worthwhile. We got to see more of the Slough House team interacting – which is when the show is at its best given the vibrant personalities that the series has to offer – and Lamb’s motivational speech telling them that he hated working with them all; only to correct Cartwright in that he actually meant it and it wasn’t motivational, was a lot of fun and oh-so-very Lamb, I feel like I know him as a character better than most leads by this point, but then – you could argue, is Lamb really a lead? He’s in so little of the series compared to Cartwright who might as well be the main character, but Lamb feels like such a well-formed presence that only someone like Gary Oldman can bring to the table. Will he follow Slow Horses to Season 2?

That’s the problem with having such a busy cast like this – Jack Lowden’s got the excellent Benediction, and they already had to take out Olivia Cooke so early on – the only major misstep of the series so far - filming the second season of Slow Horses around everyone’s availability is going to be a challenge unless they shot them back-to-back.

Mercifully the Sons of Albion storyline can only spend so long in the same car – I was starting to get a bit tired of it this episode as lively as the characters are – Curly is a right piece of work, able to pull off the Scorsese tonal-laughter switch between playing along and super deadly in a matter of minutes; Joe Pesci would be proud. But the gunshot left a mark – it felt inevitable that sooner or later Curly would snap; because Locke, Slow Horses isn’t – and now we have the stakes set for the sixth, and final episode, debuting tomorrow with all the pieces in play for a surely cracking final hour.

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