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Slow Horses - Follies - Review

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The final episode of season one of Slow Horses answered a lot of questions; wrapped up the story in a fun way that highlighted a lot of my issues with the show whilst also reaffirming its qualities as a series: chiefly; the limited series structure of six episodes feels too short to justify a show but too long to justify a movie – some editing in the behind-the-scenes department and you could have probably turned this into a mean, lean two hours of a film.

This episode wraps up the plot in a way that offered little surprise but crafted an entertaining set-piece on the Dover coastline. Curly split from his fellow surviving Sons of Albion member and went on the run with Hassan – and the Sons member got gunned down by the dogs whilst trying to flee on the ferry; having a gun planted on him to make it look like he was trying to fight back. MI5’s tactics are about as ruthless as you’d get. Slow Horses meanwhile race to stop him – and the classic stop-and-talk when the car runs out of petrol allowed Min and Louisa to shine – Dustin Demri-Burns and Rosalind Elazar have shown that the group of characters is so well rounded and more than just the Gary Oldman show – and the series doesn’t just quite spend enough time with them. The scenes in the cafĂ© where the group were plotting their next moves was a delight – Christopher Chung as Ho and Saskia Reeves as Standish were just as joyful to watch as ever in these roles – Ho admitting that he’d planted bugs on people’s cars and Standish tricking MI5 into believing that she wasn’t a threat only to pull a gun on them were both quality moments – and of course, the reason that Cartwright tells Ho why he got put in Slough House is that he’s just too good and makes the rest of MI5 look bad.

It'll be interesting to see Slow Horses tackle the future of Mick Herron’s books, which admittedly I have not yet read but will try and do so before Season 2 – which looks as though it’s already been filmed judging by a next time trailer that AppleTV+ have included at the end – getting around the question of how the show will find time to accommodate its busy stars. Even two six-episode seasons would feel a little on the small side if they were bundled together as one season a few years ago – yet it feels comparatively the norm now. This season felt like a struggle between MI5 and Slow Horses more than a struggle between the Sons of Albion and anyone else – especially when the Sons’ own plan was a victim of MI5’s design – Hassan was saved of course and Curly’s own life was saved by the Slow Horses preventing MI5 from shooting him – and the lingering questions about who knows what happened to MI5’s man on the inside are quickly wrapped up: Hassan’s student loans are paid off – and the clean-up crew take care of Hobden in a ruthless, effective way by Duffy.

The little touches between Hassan and Curly were fun and I like Hassan being smart enough to tell Curly that the castle that he was taking him to isn’t actually a real castle – shattering his worldview even further – and Hassan finding the courage within him to even tell Cartwright that he wasn’t a very good spy for not having a mobile phone on him was a brilliant moment. Antonio Aakeel has been excellent in the face of constant chaos this season that his character has endured.

The final scene at between both Cartwrights summed up River’s attitude to it all quite nicely: he suspected that wiping the slate clean would get him sent back to MI5 and working as normal; but it’s not going to be that easy under Taverner. It’s going to be a while before he gets out of Slough House.

All in all then – despite the wasting of Olivia Cooke (we do get a hint that Sid might have more of a role in the future: Sidney Baker never existed!) as a casting this season, hopefully she’ll get more to do next time out – the show has pretty much showed Killing Eve how it really should be done – and filled the spy-shaped hole in my life quite nicely. It’s going to be a wait for Season 2.

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