KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 25 — The first season of spy show Slow Horses was an entertaining take on spycraft.
Inept MI6 spies sidelined and tasked to do endless paperwork and grunt jobs that include going through the trash proved to be rather entertaining fare.
In the second season, Gary Oldman returns as the implacable Jackson Lamb who oversees the “slow horses” — the term given to this motley crew of spies deemed unfit for active duty, usually for the reason of making undeniably stupid mistakes.
Those slip-ups include leaving a classified file on the Tube or sending inappropriate emails to co-workers using MI6 official email accounts.
Rather than just fire them instead the spies are assigned to drudgery in a dingy office doing the tasks considered beneath regular MI6 agents.
After sidestepping an attempt by Regent Park head Diana Taverner (a steely performance by Kristin Scott Thomas) to make them take the fall for a botched operation, the Horses find themselves caught up in yet another intrigue.
Jack Lowden’s overeager River Cartwright, the grandson of a retired spymaster, is again trying to get back to Regent Park despite being told to just give up.
Lowden is very convincing as the cocksure young agent who bristles at being stuck with the slow horses when his step down was not due to incompetence but a setup.
While Lowden is the most obvious in his yearning to return to the prestige of Regent Park, the others — from Rosalind Elezear’s sardonic Louisa and the slightly hapless Min, played by Dustin Demri-Burns as well as the talented but acerbic hacker Roddy (Christoper Chung) still hold hope of getting their old jobs back.
This is despite Lamb’s daily ribbing and reminding them of their slipups, and being admonished to just give up and resign.
While Lamb shows a general disdain for his crew, beneath all that he does care for their wellbeing though it isn’t something he would willingly admit.
His past with Catherine Standish (Saskia Reeves) is as layered as the show and its characters are.
Yes, Louisa, Min, Roddy and River are very flawed and often annoying but the show still makes you reluctantly care about their fates.
It’s the strength of the writing that gets you invested in what happens to a group of, separately, very unlikeable people.
There’s plenty of action in this season with murders, mysteries and motivations aplenty and while it’s not necessary to watch the first season to enjoy the second season of Slow Horses I would recommend it.
Watch it for Gary Oldman chewing up the scenery. Watch it for the hijinks of a mad spy crew who refuse to accept that they’re “past it.” Watch it because good spy stories that aren’t too dour are a rare thing especially on TV.
Slow Horses is now showing on Apple TV+ with both seasons available for viewing.