In Search of the Story — SPOILERS

Spoilers for Spooks Series 2 and 3 as well as Series 9.

Spooks 9 has ended and left me dissatisfied with the completion of the series and certainly with the completion of Lucas North. A part of me wanted to blame RA. Even though I am fervently biased in Richard Armitage’s favor, I said I’m honest, and I am honest, so I had to honestly look at his performance to see if it passed muster. That is a hard admission, but I’ve been pretty much telling you how I feel, albeit mostly couched in jests, so here I am again being as candid as I am able but without much humor today. His performance was fine in the context of the show, but I have a hard time saying it was great or should garner him a BAFTA. The melodramatic tone of it was a little hard to bear. Then again, I’m not sure what the BAFTA committee judges a great performance.

What I do know is the character’s turning was awkward and supported by a plot so thin it could be used to strain tea. There just wasn’t enough of the story developed to make it plausible for this character, and it left an icky feeling which made me want to cast off Spooks. Almost needless to say I’ve been very disappointed in the writers and believe they are a great part of the reason that RA’s performance is not great. I say almost needless, because, well, I have a great need to say that.

These thoughts as well as a host of others, of which I won’t bore you with all of them, have made this overwhelmingly familiar. Yeah, I’ve been here before, and for the last two series I’ve been fighting off the feeling that I’ve been sort of reliving another story. In very late 2006 a friend of mine had the first few series of Spooks, and she encouraged me to watch them with the comment, “the guy who played Darcy is in this, and you’ll like it.” Well, I did like it until I got to the Series 2 finale, and then Tom Quinn was no more, and his send off was an awkward piece of writing that left me with so many questions and being disgusted at the plot so shakily contrived to bring him down. I was so disgusted I thought I wouldn’t watch anymore.

Last week I had a great rant ready with my disgust of these last couple of series and was about to post it, but I caught sight of a comment that this was the best send off since Tom Quinn. I’m not sure yet about “the best,” but it was definitely similar in its feel and quite a few particulars. In fact, here are the similarities to Tom’s demise from my memory:

A woman who’s a love interest is at the crux
A person from the past comes back to haunt him
A student from university is involved
Some co-workers not trusting him
Harry chastising the co-workers for not trusting him and then doing an about face and having them hunt him down
A threat occurs to his love interest
Love interest is somehow co-opted by authorities to try to catch him
He threatens Harry
He’s in such despair at what’s happened that he kills himself at the end — or does he?
Harry hangs in the balance

And I wonder how many similarities there may actually be. Since I haven’t watched those shows in a while, it might be interesting to watch again and find out. At the least, the ones I remember have me more convinced than ever that Lucas doesn’t die. For those of you familiar with early episodes of Spooks, you know why I’m saying this. If you’re a novice at this Spooks watching, and I would deem a novice someone who has only watched the last three series, then you need to know that the story is never over no matter how it looks. Of course there are differences in Tom’s and Lucas’ stories, but at this point it’s a little hard to believe the writers would lift that much from Tom’s story, whether consciously or subconsciously, and not have lifted the final resolution.

Mostly I simply forgot this is a tv show where a character’s story arc can never eclipse the show itself. The show is only about the experience of an episode, and enough of those strung together can make for a thrilling ride of a series, which hopefully, will become addictive and increase ratings. Isn’t the thrill of a roller coaster the ride itself and never the ending? It certainly seems to be about things rushing at you, pricking your senses, and when it’s over, you are anxious to go again or relieved it’s done.

For those who were interested in my rant, it was a good one. LOL! I just don’t have the heart to post it. This is about as negative as I’m willing to go. Maybe I’ll gut it up and post all that crap later. Hopefully, not.

In the meantime, how about something to lift your spirits:

Photo courtesy of mokulen on LJ.

31 Comments

  1. Kaprekar, thank you for having mercy on me after I blasted RA and Spooks in the same post. LOL!

  2. I think Richard did the best he could with a rotten situation, the total dismantling of the Lucas North character he had carefully crafted. This was all way too soap opera-ish for my tastes. RA net has a poll asking which is your fav ep from series 9. I wish they had a “none of the above” option.

    Is he not dead? If he isn’t, surely they will further destroy the character and actually turn him into Snidely Whiplash. “My proud beauty, muhahahahahaha!” And put us all out of our misery shortly into S 10. I mean, RA is going to be in New Zealand, folks.

    OK, yes, Spooks is about the thrill ride blah blah blah ad nauseum. Maybe it’s just not a ride I want to be on anymore. I am tired of Saint Harry and Encyclopedia Ruth and Baby Spooks Tariq, Beth and Dimitri and Alchie Alec. Won’t be illegally downloading S 10, I can assure you.

    Of course, they may decide to bring back RA briefly as Lu-John’s identical twin who has sworn revenge on Harry and Company and has a girlfriend that’s a dead ringer for Ros.

    Well, it makes as much sense as the S9 storyline did. If I were RA, I I’d be more than ready to say goodbye to all things Thames House and move ON.

  3. On a purely shallow note, let me add he looked damn fine much of this series, and I do find the above candid v.v. tasty. Can’t go wrong with RA in snug jeans and a black leather jacket.

  4. Hey Frenz! This is a great comparison between the two send offs with Tom vs. Lucas!
    I first started watching because I saw an episode with Matthew Mcfadyen and the show grabbed me right away! I have only experienced the show on a hit and miss basis so I didn’t see the episode where they dispatched Tom. Had I watched it religiously as I did from Season 7 on it probably would have bothered me too.
    The show itself is very “hit and miss” with it’s scripts, I have found. Most episode are very rollercoaster-like (good comparison), but some have been very blah…
    I tried to get my husband to watch once and it just happened to be the most boring episode ever! Don’t ask me which season, could have been 4 or 5 who knows?
    I want to buy the DVDs for all the past seasons so I can watch things in the proper order.
    I have been upset about how this season ended for over a week now but I am finally coming to grips with it through “music therapy”. I’ve been enjoying some wonderful fanvids, by bcc mee and several others. I even had to do my own version of a fanvid because I found the perfect song! It’s helping me to put the scattered pieces of a very sketchy character together in some kind of understandable way.
    Great post!

  5. @angie, We’re in agreement about RA’s performance. As far as Spooks 10, it’s possible they have already filmed part of it.

    @phylly3, If you have Netflix, almost all of the shows are instant play except for Series 5 and 8 which are available through the mail, and obviously, 9 isn’t even on DVD yet. It makes it very easy to watch. That’s how I watched Series 5 and 6.

  6. There’s no Netflix where I live. Not even sure what it is! I watch on PBS or other cable channels.

  7. Well, I could watch them all online, if I really wanted, but I’m getting very tired of sitting in my computer chair! :)

  8. Frenz,

    I think my problem with Lucas not being dead is the fact, for me, Lucas IS dead. This dodgy overgrown adolescent known as John Bateman is a pale imitation of whom I think of as Lucas North.

    Unless they really do some doctoring of the scripts for S10 and it all turns out, say, that Lucas was, indeed, Lucas all along and suffering from False Memory Syndrome and Harry is behind it all (having been in league with Vaughn all along) and Harry jumps off a building (for real) . . . or gets carted off to prison . . . I won’t be in the least interested.

    Am I being stroppy? Yeah.

    But if the writers can show such contempt for an established character whose been so masterfully portrayed by a top-flight actor and for their viewers, I can show contempt for them.

    Can’t quite believe I am saying that, but I really was p**sed off royally by how this was all handled. Yeah, I guess most shows have some seasons (series) that are better than others; that”s understandable. But to go from the sublime nature of S7 to the frustrations of S8 to the disaster (for me, anyway) of S9–that’s asking a bit too much from me.

  9. Series 3 when Tom came back was a little consolation. Not a lot but a little. Just know that I’m with you about this series and RA’s participation. Very, very frustrating. It would take some very clever writing to overcome that.

  10. I never saw any episodes of Spooks before Richard Armitage joined the cast and honestly I haven’t seen all of season 7. Your comparison of the Tom and Lucas characters was very interesting, RA Frenzy. Have to admit, I never warmed to the character of Lucas North but even so, the writers were wrong to make him somebody else. I think the character died and would be disappointed if he didn’t. I was not upset in the slightest when the character jumped off the building. I felt so sorry for the actors, especially RA since he had to do the impossible. How could he determine the motives in such poorly developed messed up scripts? I also think that Sophia Myles and Max Brown were woefully cheated this season.

    By the way, the Spooks 8 release date in America is January 25, 2011. I called Netfix and was told that they will have it available no later than February 22 and probably sooner. I will only rent it, not buy it. The only consistency in seasons 7 & 8 was that Lucas was loyal. The only consistency in seasons 7, 8 & 9 was that Richard Armitage’s character looked gorgeous. ;) So I agree with angieklong on that topic!

    We can trust that The Hobbit will be well-written and Richard Armitage will be able to shine again in a decent role.

    P.S. to phylly3: Where are you located? Netflix is an online DVD rental service available in the United States and Canada. You can also watch some shows & movies streaming on your computer or TV with their subscription service. It’s comparable to ilovefilm in the UK and I’m sure a service like it is available in most countries. I discovered RA accidentally through Netflix when I was bored and found The Vicar of Dibley. <3

  11. Let me say I have no remorse that I entered the shallow waters of visual appeal and as a twit friend pointed out; noticing the tighter his shirts got the badder he got. I Stick to that level of appreciating the show .. I don’t believe he’s dead for one minute either. He won’t be back anytime soon though IMO

  12. I don’t think he’ll be back anytime soon. Well, not until the movie is a possibility or maybe the end of the show.

  13. Great post!

    I’m glad it’s over. I’m indifferent to whether Lucas died or is alive. I won’t be jerked around anymore.

    This Monday passed and I didn’t even notice a lack.

    As for RA’s acting- I guess you would have to flesh out your argument. I loved it, but also felt manipulated, not by him, but what the ‘creative’ team had his character do/emote. Even thinking about the convolutions leaves my brain in knots. So I won’t go further. I can only imagine what it did to RA because he is no dummy.

  14. @Pi,

    That’s me. I felt totally manipulated and I resented it. Let’s really torture Lucas North/John Bateman and make all those fans hang on to every awful, tragic, terrifying moment . . . ratings, darlings, ratings. I kept watching because I cared but god almighty I got sick of the train wreck getting worse every week.

    I’m sick and tired of being jerked around, too. No more. I went to Amazon UK tonight and canceled my pre-order. My review of the series was hardly glowing, either. I still get frustrated/angry thinking about it.

    Some of us have been wondering–when he said he was going to do some things some fans wouldn’t like, something along those lines, could it have been a veiled reference to Spooks 9 rather than CA or The Hobbit?

    At least he KNOW he’s an evil henchman who dies in CA, and a heroic dwarf who dies in The Hobbit. Maybe, one day, he’ll get to be a hero who gets the girl and lives, or a glorious baddie who also survives to be deliciously nasty another day . . .

    You can’t tell me this didn’t hurt him somewhere inside, just a little. But he’s too gracious a gentleman to probably ever say so.

  15. I’m sure it hurt on some level.

  16. @angieklong

    If he did say that he was going to do something the fans didn’t like, I can only imagine it was this travesty. I suppose he couldn’t say “that no person in their right mind” would like.

    “Hurt” is the perfect word. I imagine it did hurt him somewhere inside.

    I recall he talked about wanting to do a comedy next because he could no longer find any light in the Lucas character. He’s an actor who prides himself on finding dark or light as needed to add dimension. In essence, it’s like saying, Lucas became 2 dimensional. What could be a worse violation of artistic integrity and creativity than that? Lucas’ death was anti-climactic.

  17. Well it’s been fun reading all of your comments everyone. I’m pretty much over the disappointment. Personally, I was ready to be DONE with the series after episode 2.

    Frenzy, you made an excellent comparison of Spooks and a roller coaster ride. It sells itself on being a series that.. “you never know what’s going to happen next”. Frenzy, you asked the question, isn’t a roller coaster ride about the RIDE, not the ending. Well, being a huge fan of roller coasters myself, it all depends. Sometimes it’s the start of the ride that gets your heart pumping, sometimes it’s the middle, sometimes it’s a powerful ending. Very few rides can give you all three, some have been successful, but very few.

    Though I am a fan of roller coasters (both real and story based), I am not a fan of Spooks. I don’t know if it’s their length of the season or what but I have seen of the last 9 seasons, shows me they REALLY struggle with character development. The personal story arc leave much to be desired. For those that love Spooks, the weak character story arcs are fine. They do JUST enough to support the action, and that is enough for them. For me… it leaves me unsettled.

    Personally, I hope they give Lucas a break… and allow his story to be done.

    On RA acting.. personally, I was impressed. I thought he did an amazing job with what he was given… which wasn’t much. The story arc, made me feel cheated but the character, I felt oddly indifferent. I didn’t feel compassion or hatred and I think that is what RA was shooting for. (JMHO)

  18. @Pi,
    I remember when he admitted he called after he got the script where Guy kills Marian and asked “Are you f**king crazy?” You can’t tell me he didn’t have a similar reaction, although he may not have vocalized it, when he saw the direction in which this series was going.

    I truly admire Richard’s love of detail and careful crafting of a character and yes, seeing the good in the bad, and the bad in the good, so his characters are wonderfully three-dimensional and so compelling and believable.

    He inspires me as a creative, artistic person and I am so grateful for that.

    And as a creative, artistic person, I wept for what they were doing to his creation.

    A violation of artistic integrity and creativity, indeed. You hit the nail on the head, my dear.

    Series 9 ended, not with a glorious bang, but with a sad little whimper for me. Even some viewers who didn’t consider themselves Lucas fans are sad to be appalled at how this was handled.

  19. I meant to add I for one would love to see him in something lighter, a well-scripted comedy where he gets to laugh and smile, because he does both so beautifully–and the good lord knows, there’s been a gracious plenty of angst and torment in recent roles . . . some of it so very unneeded.

  20. @bccmee — Netflix just launched in Canada recently. I’m sure it is available in the big cities. I however, am in the boonies.
    Maybe pi or fitzg or tyme_4_t can get Netflix. We’ll see if they answer….

    @pi and angie and Frenz — I had been feeling just like you, but am almost over it now.
    If you wish, you can visit my blog and see why…

  21. @phylly3: Netflix is available everywhere in the countries they serve because they mail the DVDs. It’s on online rental service. You go to their website, request the DVDs and they are mailed to you. When you’re finished, you mail them back in a prepaid envelope. You can also watch online with your subscription. Check them out.

  22. Phylly3,

    I read your blog entry and I am glad the music therapy is helping. It does soothe the savage breast, after all . . .

    I am seeking my own catharsis through writing a very long chapter of Sloth Fiction and exacting my own sort of justice for my dear damaged spy Lucas. Let’s just say the ChaRActers are all coming together in a most inspiring way (and boy, all those hot guys in black ops unis . . . it’s a nice image) and Lucas is cozy in my den and about to get a really nice surprise . . .

  23. @loriBear,

    I have (as y’all can obviously see from all these posts LOL) been thinking a great deal about Lucas and Spooks in general, and I have come to the realization I am not that impressed with the show. There are some very talented actors that have been attached to it over the years, but you are so right–character development isn’t their forte.

    As a magazine and newspaper writer by profession and fan fic writer in my spare time, character development–capturing a personality and giving them depth both in fiction and non-fiction–is important to me. And apparently it is very important to me in the movies and TV series I watch as well.

    Underneath all the surface gloss and stylishness of Spooks there is a distressing lack of substance character-wise for someone like me who needs MORE. And I agree, I think RA ultimately, purposely turned John into a sort of cipher, a boy-man who was incomplete and hard to identify with.

    And while I would like to see the issues with Lucas resolved, I have no faith these writers and directors can do it in what I would consider a satisfactory and logical way.

    I have decided I am a Lucas fan and, as ever, an Armitage fan. Spooks? Not really.

  24. @angieklong

    It appears you and I are on the same page. I like action packed movies/tv series but there needs to be a STRONG character element to the story for me to enjoy it. I don’t want just action for actions sake. For others, character development is not so important and there is nothing wrong with that. For diehard Spooks fans, Lucas’ story arc was exciting and was explained enough. For there sakes, I hope Spooks continues. For me… it was not enough.

    Though I don’t write fanfic, I am a beta reader. I don’t check for spelling or grammar but for consistency in character, plots and story arcs. So obviously, that is important to me. BTW: Where can I find your fanfics? Would love to read them!

    @phylly3, Others have already explained Netflix well. But I wanted to let you know, that I have a friend in rural Canada that is a member of Netflix and she is having no issues at all. For the instant playback, you do need a decent internet speed but even if you don’t, the “mail” part of Netflix is worth it! Check it out… http://www.netflix.com

  25. @loribear,

    I am one of those people who hates it when the special effects and the action sequences take precedence over everything else . . . sometimes I will watch a movie and it feels like a commercial for Industrial Light and Magic instead of a STORY. Give me a story, too, please!

    My stuff is posted at DreamerFic under fedoralady and also at Live Journal under the same name, and I have just started posting at wattpad (due to iz4blue’s coaxing).
    A lot of it is adult-oriented, I should state, so if you don’t mind steaminess (which Servetus says I do extremely well, bless her), you should enjoy it. A lot of people are enjoying the Sloth Fic series Servetus inspired, and it is PG and good for some laughs.

    Re Netflix, our internet is not fast enough to enjoy the streaming video feature at our rural home, but the mail version works just fine and allows my husband to watch all the really awful sci-fi and horror movies he wants! LOL It’s a good deal and has proven very reliable.

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  27. Lori, you made an excellent point about Spooks’ weakness. So much so that it’s in my next post. I guess I just didn’t want to believe that once RA joined the cast, but I was wrong.

    Phylly3, You and I are such kindred spirits. I go to the music as well. Sometime I’m going to talk about how much music has affected my life. It really is my first love. Oh, and I adore Peter Sellers. Have you ever seen The Party? And bccmee is right about Netflix. I hope you can get it sometime.

    Angie, I feel your pain, girl! You are so right! But I’m probably still going to watch Spooks. I know how they like to throw a bone, so I’ll be watching at least the beginning of Series 10.

  28. pi, I have a theory about the screwed up plot in Robin Hood. Just haven’t gotten to it in my diary entries. Of course I could be completely loony in what I’m thinking, but I don’t think so. LOL!

  29. iz4blue, I love how you roll with the punches. :D

  30. […] still wrestling with the end of Spooks 9, and I’m not the only one. Frenz is ranting and ranting and may yet rant some more. I’m not ready for a series post-mortem yet (my […]

  31. Melodramatic. Yes, the final episode was definitely that. Finely acted, but yes, a bit over the top. Meh, let’s just pretend season 9 never happened, shall we? It’s all a bad dream, and series 10 will open with Ruth coming in from the shower and Harry waking up, saying he had a very peculiar dream.


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