REVIEW Slow Horses (S1 E3/6)

After last week’s opening double-episode salvo, the adaptation of celebrated author Mick Herron’s first Slough House novel, Slow Horses, certainly delivered.

Based in the world of spies, it offered something different and utterly enthralling – ostensibly a thriller with espionage frills.

It centres around the irascible and infuriating Jackson Lamb, a has-been spy relegated to Slough House, a branch of MI5 where those who have failed go to live out their days in relative anonymity. Except, when a British-Asian student is kidnapped in Leeds, members of his team – some of which refuse to accept where they are and why they are – see a chance to redeem themselves and get back to where they once were.

Jackson Lamb is not interested, however, and spends his days smoking, farting and drinking whiskey in his office all day.

However, when one of his team is shot in the head he suddenly springs, or at least saunters, into action. That’s where we left things at the end of episode two.

One of the things those two episodes did well was leave us wanting more of Lamb, undeniably the main character, but held back tactfully, watching (and belching from the shadows). And in this third episode, we did get a lot more of him, especially in a tense showdown with Regent Park chief, Diana Taverner.

This scene was as fascinating as it was brilliantly staged. Lamb farted and gurgled a few times, but you just knew that he did this to get the upper hand in situations with his higher-ups – he’s happy for them to think that he’s nothing more than a lout and an imbecile. But he knows he’s wily, playing his schtick out for all it’s worth so he can take a step back and survey the situation and act accordingly. And Taverner almost fell for it. Almost.

They were meeting because Taverner’s mole in Slough House – Jed Moody – had been found out. Not only was he the man behind Sid’s shooting (she was still in hospital by the way, her condition touch and go) but also because Moody was caught snooping in Lamb’s office after hours by a drunken Louise and Min, who had taken their fun at the pub back to the office. That scene ended with Moody tumbling down the stairs and breaking his neck.

So Taverner’s cat was well and truly out of the bag, and she was forced to reveal all – the plot behind the kidnapped lad was actually entirely of her design, a plan hatched to break open the right-wing Sons Of Albion group from the inside regardless who was caught up in the collateral carnage.

You just knew this wasn’t going to end well, and the final scene confirmed this – Lamb (who had brokered a deal with Taverner) and his team stormed the house where the hostage was being held only to find a decapitated head on the table and everyone gone… the hostage, the mole, the whole lot of them.

Not only did this episode explain a lot – Lamb’s potentially shady past, Taverner’s plot, and journalist Hobden’s place in all of this – but there was a pleasing touch of macabre farce about this, perhaps even Coen brothers-esque in its set-ups and tone.

Which, obviously, is a very good thing indeed.

Paul Hirons

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Slow Horses streams on Apple TV+ in the UK

Van Der Valk confirmed for third season

ITV’s reboot of classic Euro crime drama, Van Der Valk, is coming back for a third season.

The drama, starring Marc Warren as the titular Dutch detective, begins filming in and around Holland this summer.

Executive producer at Company Pictures, Michele Buck, says: “We’re delighted that this new season order has been confirmed by our fantastic co-production partners and can’t wait to return to the streets of Amsterdam to investigate more intriguing cases.”

It’s reported that the new series will comprise three, 120-minute episodes. More news as we get it.