Can’t Drink the Kool-Aid Yet — SPOILERS

I’m not kidding when I say spoilers. Please take me at my word.

My thoughts as of Wednesday, 11/03:

With respect to Lucas North’s story, the plot of Series 9 has been completely predictable. Almost nothing has been surprising, and unless I’m stupid, that’s the crux of this story — the unexpected unraveling of the web of who he is. Each week I work myself up for a thrilling show, but sadly, I’ve been underwhelmed by the revelations about Lucas. Not one cell in my body was shocked by Lucas/John being a sort of bad guy, and I’m surprised at anyone who was not expecting this. I keep waiting for something really interesting, and yet if it comes, it’s not going to be a big surprise because I’m expecting it! And why is that? Because of the blasted spoilers. We already knew he wasn’t going to be who we thought he was. If that knowledge hadn’t been telegraphed, and then repetitively tapped out for us like a drumbeat by the BBC, I might be jumping at every new revelation and barely able to wait for the finale. As it is, I’m just waiting to see if the ending stops short of being lame. Wow. Is that what Spooks has come to?

Perhaps significant spoilers have always been a big part of Spooks. I don’t know because I watched the first seven series without reading or seeing any promotional coverage. Oh, some things were predictable, but then I cared enough about the characters that it didn’t bother me. But this series has been a lumbering elephant to get to the point already made — Lucas isn’t who he says he is. Yeah, yeah, now what?

Then added to all of that is minutiae that seem designed to do nothing more than make this story look complex, and yet much as I try to make it so, the information looks like simple plot devices to create tension that the surprise of Lucas not being Lucas would have done without all this mess. I can almost hear the writers in a room saying, “Perhaps we can construct this to confuse them?” And yet they confused themselves I think since the character development is all over the place with the plot going in several different directions and yet it really means nothing? Which would be great if the revealed truth were more interesting than what the scattered pieces possibly portend. For instance the whole thing about Blake. Where did that go? What does that mean? Was that supposed to go somewhere? Or was it just something they came up with on the fly and didn’t know how to really pursue? My gut says it was the latter. Yet the possibilities about Blake were so fascinating that I actually broke down and read the biography by Peter Ackroyd. If I had nothing else to do, then that might be fine, but I had to work that into the other 430 things I do on a given day. No, I had no gun to my head to do that, but in hindsight I could have been doing something else, and maybe next time I will be. It just seems the pistol hung on the wall by the writers, or in this case the painting, is going to mean very little or nothing and the big reveal doesn’t mean much either. But I hope I’m wrong and there really is something which the writers take down and use to blow me away.

And my gut feelings about the love interest were right. It was unnecessary — at least so far. It looks like more of the minutiae, and it’s pretty much boring and sometimes downright irritating. Maya has zero personality. She’s almost atonal when she speaks and certainly not inspiring of Lucas (yeah, he’s going to remain Lucas in my mind) doing a 180. Frankly, if she had been blown to hell last episode, then we might see some justification for Lucas going off the deep end. As it is, the more I see of her, the less inspiring she’s becoming. Apart from Lucas looking at his laptop and that first kiss, this relationship is becoming more nothing as it progresses, and damn! we didn’t even get the kitchen table scene. That was a spoiler I could have lived with!

So far, my secret desire has become Lucas really being a bad guy. I mean yank the mask off of him to expose something really ugly at the end. If he’s bad, then chuck the half-hearted attempts at the conflicted officer for someone who really is evil through and through and just boggles our mind. Say something smacking of Keyser Söze? That might actually be interesting and might be easier to pull off for the writers than a conflicted character, and unless the writers are under a rock somewhere, the use of Bateman as the last name was not random. Manchurian Candidate did flit through my mind and apparently crossed the minds of some others in cyberworld, but maybe we should be thinking American Psycho instead. Oh, it’s not believable with the development of Lucas’ character in the other two series and even with some of the episodes in this series? When did that start mattering again?

Further thoughts as of Monday morning, 11/08:

Oh shit! I’ve seen the rooftop spoiler. Stumbled onto it, and yes, I watched it. I was mad at myself when I realized what I was watching. But what difference does it make now? It’s exactly what I thought was going to happen. I cringed. The caged animal routine? Is that all the writers had? This is so obvious it’s pitiful. Well, that and maybe Lucas will fall backwards off the roof or shoot himself, and we won’t know if he’s really dead until next season ’cause Harry’s not going anywhere, my friends. I hope this clip is misleading! But as I watched, I thought that these people at the BBC really don’t want any surprises do they? Haven’t had any so far. I so hope I’m wrong. If I’m not, then what the heck are these spoilers about? I really don’t get why they would sabotage their own show.

Question for the writers: if the character development has to be somewhat obliterated each series, can we at least have a thrilling plot? Maybe you need to shoot the people in the PR department.

Post script: I was not going to post this out of fear of offending some fans, but the spoiler pushed me over the edge. I’ve been so good about staying away from spoilers, but I watched that one, and I’m mad as hell at myself. It severely eroded my hopes of a great twist. I was so hoping to get on this ride or at least get doped up somehow to enjoy it.

I’m still a rabid Richard Armitage fan, but this shows sucks, my friends. Of course that’s my not so humble opinion. :D But give me a chance to redeem myself with a piece on why I don’t think this show worked for RA. LOL!

And I’m serious when I say I want to be wrong. I would be happy to fall over in a faint at a killer ending.

Note: need a new tag, “rant.”

Screencap is mine.

46 Comments

  1. I agree with you. This show sucks.

  2. I can’t believe all the people who think this season’s writing was “brilliant.” Er, no.

    Still am and will always be a rabid RA fan no matter what happens. Hate they took a really interesting and promising character and did this hatchet job.

    I love the Lucas I knew–who had his flaws and demons, who was something of an enigma, but was still, for me, essentially a decent and honorable man–and I think this is all just a bit of undigested beef on the part of the head writer.
    I also think they are just making it up as they go along, disregarding past character traits and stories and throwing in red herrings here and there willy-nilly along the way. OK, I kind of expected that stuff with Tiger Aspect, but Kudos?? Shame on you!

    I already thought of the whole Patrick Bateman/American Psycho connection. There’s just nothing particularly original in how they’ve handled this whole story; Maya is a useless cipher (oh, boy, did we get royally screwed over with all that talk of passionate scenes!!) and MI-5 looks as if a troop of Boy Scouts could do a better job of handling national security.

    OK, my rant is over now, back to you, Frenz.

  3. I would have missed the spoiler if not for your post. LOL
    It’s only a piece of the puzzle.
    What can I say — I’m looking into the future!

  4. @anonymousetoo,

    It’s a shame isn’t it?

    @angie,

    I need to catch up on the discussion you and some other are having! I’m snowed under with work and wasn’t going to take time to post this, but that spoiler begged me to do it. LOL!

    When I first saw the clips of him strangling the “real” Lucas North, I groaned at the thought of Batement. Now it seems the writers really are partial to hatchets! ROFLOL! Sorry I couldn’t resist. Too bad they couldn’t really develop a character like that. Did you guys end up covering the Manchurian Candidate ground or the Keyser Soze ground? Those also scream from the show. LOL!

    Poor Lucas. What a waste of a character. I’ve got another piece I started before this rant about why this didn’t work for RA. It makes sense that he’s moving on!

  5. @iz4blue,

    I hope the puzzle is much more interesting than it appears. So far that just hasn’t been the case. What a shame.

  6. @Frenz,

    Yeah, if Richard puts on a rain coat and starts running amok with an axe and talking about Huey Lewis and the News, I really am going to feel like tossing my cookies in total disgust.

    We’ve discussed Manchurian Candidate a bit but not as much about Keyser Soze . . . although that certainly jumped into my head as a movie lover, from Vaughn’s early turn as a stroke victim (never did buy that act).

    There is another brief clip you can access on RANet on YT (from a couple of days ago) that just had me rolling on the floor, laughing so hard. It makes those spooks look like absolute idiots, it really does. This show has jumped the shark in my humble opinion.

  7. I haven’t been able to look at RANet much the last couple of days. Will have to hop over there and look at the clip. Need a good laugh. I cannot believe I’m saying this about a show with RA. Are we sure this isn’t produced by Foz and Dom? ;-)

  8. @angie,

    Is this the one?

    I can’t believe I’m trying not to laugh. That is sad.

  9. Frenz,

    I think Vasey is secretly the head writer on Spooks for the last couple of series . . . I really do feel like they are losing the plot and just maybe–(sorry, Spooks lovers!) –it’s time to send Sir Harry off to retirement and let the Jr Spooks find new employment?

    I am SOOOO glad Richard has other, bigger, better projects on the table. He’s done an admirable job with this debacle, but—enough is enough!!

  10. Angie,

    I could barely watch that clip. I’m not sure I can watch the show tomorrow night. I cannot believe I”m saying that, but I really mean it. It’s pitiful. But then, you and I are Americans who can’t handle all these diverse things going on in a plot. :D

    Seriously, what has happened to Spooks?

  11. Yep, Frenz, that was the clip

    . I mean–I laughed, I groaned, I said, “this show has really gone down the effin’ tubes . . .”

    I was reminded of the old days of British telly when Patrick MacNee’s stunt doubles looked absolutely nothing like him. I mean, come ON . . . . this is ridic.

    Yeah, regarding the brilliant diverse plotting, erm . . .

    Methinks the Emperor has no clothes.

  12. Well, I don’t hold it against anyone who thinks we can’t handle this kind of plot. They’re right about me! I can’t handle it. I want to laugh then cry, then laugh again to keep from crying more. ROFLOL!!!! Sorry that just slipped out.

    And what a damn shame about such a great character. That’s what really irks me. He had so much potential, and they pissed that all away. But then I’ve been thinking about why they would do that, and I certainly don’t think it’s because they are not talented. A smuch as I’m beating up on the writers in this post, I do think there is some talent there. You know how it is, Angie — lots more going on than what meets the eye.

  13. I obviously can’t handle it either . . .

    Of course there is talent there; that’s what irritates me so much, I think, is I KNOW they could do better than this. They have done better than this. It’s like the really bright student who just doesn’t bother to prepare for the test and flunks it. It’s a waste . . .

    Curiouser and curiouser . . .

  14. Well, it’s over.

  15. It’s over.

  16. Words come to my mind I can’t type on an open forum. And I don’t want to break my laptop.

  17. It’s official. THIS SHOW SUCKS.

  18. And blows. Big Time.

    PT Barnum said it,”There’s a sucker born every minute . . .”

    They suckered us pretty good with this series, didn’t they??

  19. I had no expectation – ok maybe, a litle – teensy weensy one and that was so dismally disappointing. The pieces had potential but what a lame puzzle!
    I’ll go have fun and read Angie’s latest chapter! Thank God something good!!

  20. It was all so disappointing, iz4blue. Ending not with a bang, but a whimper. Lame, indeed.

    Glad I can at least provide you with a cheer up from the boys. I will have to get ” Sloth Fiction 7: The ChaRActers Strike Back” written over the next few days, but have to get my poor head sorted out first. I am just glad it’s over–

  21. Should I even watch this?

  22. It had one great shot of where you could see how well his jeans *cough* fit. But it’s towards the end …

    His performance is excellent but the storyline makes it feel like a soap.

  23. You are so wrong – it was brilliant! Fantastic showcase for Richard’s acting too..

    I also think I am finally going to buy S7 on DVD.

  24. I thought it was wonderful. The plot holes were there of course, but I don’t want to pick holes just enjoy the ride. And the acted was superb. Peter, Nicola and Richard were outstanding and I’d rather concentrate on that to be honest. I’d even go so far to say that this was my favourite Spooks series of all, and I’ve seen them all. I like the conflict in Lucas’s character and I’ll miss him – if he’s really dead…;) He might not turn up in s10 ep1 but that’s not to say his character might return. I like the opening ending – it’s typical Spooks.

    I do think the ‘he wouldn’t have done that’ argument is very difficult to prove though. This reminds me of what Richard said in the Vulpes Libris interview:
    “One of my great mantras is that ‘characters are at their most interesting when they are behaving out of character’, so when actors say: “my character just wouldn’t do that”, I always say ‘well see what happens when you ‘make’ them do that!’”

    I thoroughly enjoyed watching Richard handle a difficult, deceitful, contradictory, brave and troubled leading role, and I can’t wait to see what he gives us next.

  25. Uch, it was one big disaster. Armitage’s best performance wasn’t in the scene where we should have expected it (the final one) because the script undercut him left and right. Seriously, you’ve got an actor who’s better than any man currently working in the West at playing ambiguity, and you give him that explanation for what he’s doing? And you don’t complicate it in the least?

    I felt like so many possibilities were raised in 9.6 and 9.7 that could have made the backstory interesting and provided a plausible explanation for the re-emergence of John, and they all got left out in the final episode.

    And bring it on about Americans not being able to stand complex plots or character motivations. This is not the ground on which those people should stand.

    It’s hard not to be angry.

  26. I am glad some people were able to “enjoy” this ride, but it made me truly feel ill.

    Ali, the sheer and utter implausibility of so much of this made it less than brilliant for me. Yes, RA was great, Peter and Nicola were great . . . but I agree with iz, it was turned into a turgid soap opera relying on hokey dialogue and cheap thrills.

    We were never given any real, believable explanation as to why John chose to do the things he did with Vaughn, as to why he fell so deeply for this woman who never showed any spark to speak of until she is turning against him–both Lucas and John did come off as looking stupid. And the earlier scripts gave us no indication that the man we knew as Lucas North was stupid.

    I just don’t buy it. I felt empathy with John and grief over Lucas. But as for the rest, bah, I am done with Spooks. Let Alchie Alec take over the Junior Spooks for the last series, because it’s seeming more and more as if it’s one more and done for this aging show.

  27. Americans not being able to stand complex plots or character motivations? Who is saying that hogwash?

    No, what it is is that many Americans (and British, and Germans, Canadians, etc) know CRAP when they see it. And they won’t mince words.

  28. I just think this series was sad…Lucas started out promising..We knew he was troubled…but why did he have to end up so “bad”? Even if he was bad in the past..What about what he has done so far at MI-5..Was all that an act? Maybe the plot was supposed to be that Lucas was tired of “pretending” to be Lucas North and just wanted to go off with his lady and start a new life…What’s sad is usually bad stuff is going on in the world, but Section D is on top of it..Now, even Section D is messed up…Maybe the writers thought they would go with this storyline because they weren’t sure there would be a series 10…Who is going to be the Alpha Male next year? Will Lucas return? Was the stuff that happened on the rooftop just a “ruse”?…They really didn’t “show” what happened to Lucas….He seems so troubled…He would have to go into therapy before getting back to Section D…He took Ruth though and really broke a lot of trust..So that would be a really hard comeback…

  29. I”m openly American if that matters and I was very disappointed in the finale. The main performers did a great job (RA, PF, NW) but the writing was utter crap. Seriously, that was the best reason they could come up with for blowing up a British embassy?! Wow, I’m stunned to say the least. I don’t like to bash people because they might be reading these things but when it stinks that badly I have got to say something. I’m one of those people who have always enjoyed the screencaps better than the show and except for episode 9.7, I feel that way more than ever. There is no way I’m watching Spooks without RA and it was difficult enough to watch WITH him in the show! I’ll tune into Downton Abbey and Sherlock for my fix of British TV, but no more Spooks unless Lucas comes back from the dead. He can be a ghost character if they ever do a Sims episode. ;) At least I can find solace in creating a different fantasy by making fanvideos. I feel that with the premise of Spooks and the excellent performers that they could make a better TV show. Why don’t they bring in some GOOD writers? It doesn’t need to be perfect…all I’m asking for is excellence.

  30. The writers could possibly redeem themselves by writing a plausible Lucas North in Spooks – the movie; with the open ending that might be feasible.

  31. @bccmee,

    Keep making your good RA vids and we’ll keep writing fanfic and create the stories we want–better ones than the scriptwriters gave us in many cases. Spooks has really disappointed me these last couple of series–what a waste of such a promising, complex character as Lucas. Yes, RA gave a fantabulous performance; but the whole thing could have been SOOO much better, considering the talent they had to work with.

  32. Echoing the thoughts of so many here, “this show sucked!” and I don’t mean just that final episode. The whole season was just horrific! In fact, to steal Servetus words, “Uch, it was one big disaster”

    @angie, I’m with you. “I can’t believe all the people who think this season’s writing was “brilliant.” Er, no” There just was no consistency any where, I was left scratching my head way too many times. I mean, I get a show like Spooks has a certain level of suspended disbelief it requires of its audience, but I think the writers could take a lesson from you and other fanfic writers on how to deliver coherent and cohesive stories!

    @anonmyousetoo, yes, I think you’re right. There are many of us who recognize crap when we see it.

    I think the only saving grace this whole stinking season was the acting. The actors all did a good job I think, especially given the crazy scripts they have been given.I think they deserve to be recognized with awards for their performances, in spite of the scripts. And the writers, jeez, I hope they never write another epi for Spooks again!

    For those viewers that enjoyed the season, well, I’m glad that you enjoyed it, I mean that seriously, not sarcastically :) Sometimes that doesn’t come across via cyber communication. The enjoyment I had from the show was really by mocking it, LOL! It reached a soap opera level of incredibility to me, that I just laughed at it :) So in a weird way I enjoyed the show, but not as the writers wanted me to. I didn’t see this as an intelligent drama, but as a soap. So keeping that in mind, I’m going to pretend S9 never happened, Bobby Ewing style :)

  33. Twink,

    I am afraid lampooning this series was the most enjoyment I got out of it, too. MI5 has been like the gang who couldn’t shoot straight–no wonder Sir Harry is being investigated, and rightly so! What a bunch of bumbling incompetents.

    I sometimes wonder if too many cooks spoil the soup when it comes to writing these scripts. As with RH, I find myself wondering if they pay any attention to what was written in previous series. And I really don’t think they have a clue how to write a credible female character anymore.

    Ruth aside (and give praise to NW for her incredible acting skills–her scene with RA was the best thing in the entire final ep) they’ve gone from bad to worse, foisting first the Evil Popsicle B**ch Sarah on us, and adding insult to injury, giving us Moody Maya who never asked any questions, but passively, if sulkily, went along with everything until it was too darned late . . . didn’t mourn her, just felt sorry for John for being such a fool as to think she was this great love who would make everything perfect in his life again.

    Yes, sometimes it is best to travel to the Land of Denial and refuse to believe this ever happened . . .

  34. (just want to clarify that my “uch” remark was directed at the final episode as opposed to the whole series. I was really angry about the way that last scene with Lucas and Harry was scripted. I may write a post at some point “grading” it the way I grade student term papers if I can figure out a way to be a little funny about it. I actually thought that in some ways 9 was better than 8. But the resolution to all the problems set up in the series was hugely disappointing.)

  35. I knew it was over for Lucas when he let the cryptographer die. I cried, for her, and for the final and ultimate loss of the character. When Lucas supposedly leaped to his death, I felt nothing but relief. I don’t by all this BS about his torments and struggles and how in the last moment he saved the word from himself. He murdered many, many people and did nothing right to the end that suggested that we should feel pity for him. I pegged him as a psychopath, while the Bateman allusion was probably supposed to come across as metaphorical or ironic, but it just comes across as cynical. Everything about Lucas’s story was intellectually dishonest and psychologically impossible. Welcome to chaos theory.

    I once called the story with That Awful Woman a major clang. I was wrong. The Lucas story and character outclanged any clang ever imagined. My ears are still ringing.

    Feh.

  36. “Everything about Lucas’s story was intellectually dishonest and psychologically impossible. Welcome to chaos theory . . . the Lucas story and character outclanged any clang ever imagined”

    Beautifully put, Pi. And sadly, so very, very, very true. I remain both outraged and grief-stricken over what they did to sabotage and assassinate this once-great character. Done with Spooks, done, done, done.

  37. Of course American audiences are no less appreciative of “complexity” than any other culture. There is as much dross on British and Canadian TV as anywhere.

    The dramas and comedies that both U.S. as well as British have turned out (Canadian, when we have the funding money), cannot be ignored. I love HOUSE as much as Sherlock. And the U.S. The Office, as much as the British version.

    As for S9, constantly up and down about it. Exceptional performances. Which made it painful. Threads all over (Scriptor Alert) going nowhere; IF I watch an S10, sincerely hope scriptors are hired, with some sense of logic and planting of some clues about character development. Actually, if the BBCorpse had expended a bit more money on at least two more eps, perhaps some of this could have been addressed. Maybe.

  38. @angieklong,

    Thanks! I am so done as well.

    @fitzg,

    You’re Canadian, right? Like me. I don’t get the opinion that somehow American appreciation and understanding is markedly different from British. I’m aghast, really, because isn’t this about critique and the realm of ideas which are not the purview of any one country?

    I think of this manufactured divisiveness as a product of desperation. There, I’ve said it.

  39. Yes pi, another “maple leaf” here. And I would not presume to be a spokeperson for my country-persons. Good point about manufactured divisiveness. Our countries , whether N.A., European, British Isles and Ireland, ANZAC, are multi- , and a good thing. Popular culture just does not recognise passports. I can watch House, MI5, Sherlock, the late da Vinci’s Inquest, Dancing With The Stars, Battle of the Blades, with equal enjoyment. Why not? :)

  40. Hello everybody! **waves** I’m late to the party as usual.
    Just had to put my 2 cents in. If anybody out there reads my blog they’d no how unhappy I’ve been with season 9. I have to agree with everybody here who was already critiquing it.
    So here is Phylly’s really brief sum up of Spooks season 9:
    Acting: Yay!
    Script: WTF?!
    Season 10? Maybe…after I cool down. (I still care about Harry and Ruth).

  41. Oops! That’s “know” not “no”. Hmmm…weird why I would pick that word to misspell. :)

  42. I felt sorry for Lucas/John and his torments…I felt sad that he felt he had to jump off the building..He had so much promise…He just wanted love…He didn’t get it with his ex-wife, Sarah Caulfield, and then he lost Maya…He lost everything…

    Yes, he let the cryptographer die..and he killed the real Lucas North…but he seemed to be tender with Ruth and was kind and caring to Beth…He was a hero in Series 7 & 8…So, we are supposed to believe that was all a lie? Even if he stole the Lucas North name…He did the heroic acts himself in Series 7 & 8..How does he go from that to Bad to the Bone?…I think the writers were trying to suggest that Lucas never forgave Harry for keeping him [Lucas] in prison for 8 years…So when Lucas was “outed” as John..He felt he gave enough to the service and it was time to have a life…Which is exactly what Harry is thinking too…He wants a life too with Ruth…They made Harry bad too…Harry killed a Russian last year…[Ros gave Harry the Gun] and Harry killed the Home Secretary this season…Harry is not superclean either..Do they want to stop with the heroic characters and make the spooks spies way more complicated?

    Maybe Lucas/John will come back as a nemesis at some point…Like a Vaughn character…That may be the only way he could come back…

  43. I also think the writers should not have killed off Lucas because their is not a strong character to replace him…Ruth just started doing “field work”…and Beth and Dimitri are too new…Who is left? Even if Richard couldn’t come back because he is doing the Hobbit, they could have just had him be “away” for some reason…Hermoine Norris was off for a while for a maternity leave, so it can be done…Wonder if Season 10 of spooks will be the last?…

  44. Maybe it’s because I have watched Spooks since the beginning – 9 years or so. Anyway I thought it was possibly the best series yet, including the final episode.

  45. I don’t think this season was horrifically bad, just sad at the end…I don’t think a character has committed suicide before…Maybe I am wrong..So they definitely killed the character off in a different way…Honestly, I thought the end would be Harry having to kill Lucas or Lucas killing Harry…I give Kudos for Richard Armitage and his emotions..I don’t think we would feel as much for his character if a wooden actor was playing the part…

  46. I guess I never came back to read these last comments. Sorry about that.

    Tom supposedly committed suicide at the end of series 2. That was the definite implication. That he came back was a little lame, but the writers sort of redeeemed that bit of crap.

    As for people who have watched Spooks from the beginning, I have too. I was actually watching Spooks before I had any clue about who Richard Armitage was.

    I came back to read this because I linked it for a new wave of fans watching the series. From their reactions it’s becoming even more apparent how much the spoiler commericals by the BBC ruined this for me on the initial run. Wish I could have watched it like I did the first seven series.


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