The seventh season of Spooks began airing last night on BBC1 (the second episode is on tonight), and it started with a bang. Literally.
** Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for the first episode follow. **
One thing that continues to impress me about Spooks is the climate that has been created in which literally no member of the cast is safe. Anyone can die at any point, and I don’t mean that in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer sense where anyone can die provided they aren’t in the opening titles or the significant other of someone in the opening titles (unless their name happens to be Tara Maclay, that is): literally anyone can cop it at any given point. During the year-long break between Season 6 ending and Season 7 starting, the big question mark was over the head of Jo Portman, who, at the end of the final episode of Season 6, looked very dead indeed. To the credit of all those involved, a remarkably good job was done of avoiding giving away whether or not Jo survived, including omitting any mention of the actress playing her, Miranda Raison, from the press materials, trailers and even the opening title sequence. But survive she did, and I for one was genuinely surprised (pleasantly, I might add) to see her back.
Above: The old and the new.
Of course, there is an old saying that the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, and, while Jo may still be in one piece, the same cannot be said for Adam Carter, who was literally blown to smithereens at the end of the first episode. If nothing else, you’ve got to admire a show that has the balls to do away with its lead character in the first episode of a new series. I knew the actor playing Adam, Rupert Penry-Jones, was leaving at some point in this series, and it became clear from the start of the episode, when they parachuted Richard Armitage in (much in the same way that Penry-Jones was parachuted in at the start of Season 3, I might add), that he was being lined up to take over as the young male lead (the true lead will always, in my opinion, be the wonderful Peter Firth, the only actor to have appeared in every episode of every series), but I didn’t expect Adam to leave so soon, or in such a way. I figured he’d get in at least another couple of episodes before bowing out, and, given that the writers had already killed off his wife (in Season 4), I didn’t for one minute expect him to do the same with him.
Elsewhere, this did feel like Spooks getting back to basics after a dodgy past couple of series. The references to ye olden days (Armitage’s character at one point asks after Tom Quinn, the show’s original lead) were a nice touch, and, by the looks of it, it appears that the new season will be dipping into Cold War nostalgia, setting up the Russians as the main bad guys. There was even some location shooting in Moscow, which was rather interesting and made for a pleasant change of pace. Of course, I could end up being completely wrong - perhaps Season 7 will turn out to be as big a disappointment as the last couple of years - but, at the moment, things are looking decidedly promising. I’m sure his legion of adoring fans will string me up for this, but I’ve a feeling the removal of Adam Carter may end up providing the show with the shake-up it needed. Now if they can just get rid of Hermione Norris (and bring back Nicola Walker), I’ll be positively elated.