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Review of 'Slow Horses' 3.1-3.3

Beatles Level

By Paul LevinsonPublished 3 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - December 2023

Whew! The first two episodes of the third season of Slow Horses begin (after a prelude) with a shot at Ringo, of all people, with River telling Catherine he doesn't want to waste time on a file because it's "Ringo-level". I wasn't completely sure this was about the Ringo -- Ringo Starr -- but who else could it be, I mean, it surely wasn't about Johnny Ringo, the out-West outlaw. But I didn't know for sure until a bit later in the first episode, when there's talk about "George-level" as below "John-level" and "Paul-level," so yeah, the new season is off with a bang,

Though, one more thing about "Ringo-level," I've always thought even Ringo was so essential a drummer for the greatest group that ever existed that maybe "Wyman-level" would have been a better choice. And, after all, Slow Horses does feature that fine theme-song by Mick Jagger. On the other hand, using the members of The Beatles as a measuring stick is consistent with the appealing outrageousness of Slow Horses, so ...

But let's get to the new season. All of our favorite characters are in fine form. Lamb is still farting his head off, and denouncing every member of the team, even though all of them are doing an excellent job. Especially River, who we're reminded doesn't really belong in Slough House, but everyone else, including Ho. And the story is sharp.

[And here's the warning about spoilers ahead ... ]

Catherine is kidnapped, by a group apparently led by the guy we see in the prelude, about whom we're not really sure if he's a bad guy after the prelude is over. I mean, kidnapping is not a good thing, but it's still possible he and the couple he's working with kidnapped Catherine for some worthy reason? Nah, I doubt it, that's why I put the question mark there, but there is something about them that seems not that bad, including that they gave Catherine a choice of ham or cheese or both for her lunch as a kidnapee.

The two hours flew right by, and it's great to see show back. It's one of my favorites. On The Beatles level? A little too soon to tell, but it's a contender for sure.


As anyone who watches TV in English that comes for the other side of the Atlantic well knows, the folks there have a great expression, "take the piss," which means mock or make a fool or fun of. That's in contrast to the use of "take a piss," which on this side of the Atlantic means what my wife always tells me women prefer describing as peeing. So what does this little idiom lesson have to do with the third episode of the third season of Slow Horses, up on Apple TV+ yesterday?

Well, in one of many telling scenes in this episode, Shirley tells Marcus that she's taking a piss. Which struck me as culturally significant because I don't recall the word "piss" ever used on U.K. or Irish television that way, and what my wife, as I said, tells me about women. Further, Shirley shortly after talks about "pee". So in addition to all its many other merits, Slow Horses provides some kind of lesson in charming vulgarity on both sides of the Atlantic.

Speaking of which, Lamb, as can always be relied upon, stinks up a car when he lets one go (is that an acceptable euphemism?) in a car with the windows closed. That's marginally better than doing the same in an elevator, because there are no windows to open when an elevator is moving. On the other hand, when Lamb is the perpetrator, the place is bad wherever it happens. Lamb himself is quick to leave the car after he does the deed, leaving the other passenger not only grimacing but gasping.

[Hey, three paragraphs, and no spoilers, but now there's one coming up ... ]

I was glad to see Spider go, for good. At least I hope so because, as you devoted readers will know, I have a fundamental principle in reviewing television shows that if you don't see a character blasted in the head or decapitated, he or she may not be dead. But this episode if anything heightened Spider's obnoxiousness, which give us even more of a reason to want him gone, so I'm hoping my principle of decapitation or its equivalent doesn't apply here.

Next on my list of people I'd like to see gone is the bald guy who came in at the end of River's beating and added some damage of his own. We'll see how he's dealt with in the episodes ahead...

another kind of detective story

tv review

About the Creator

Paul Levinson

Novels The Silk Code & The Plot To Save Socrates; LPs Twice Upon A Rhyme & Welcome Up; nonfiction The Soft Edge & Digital McLuhan, translated into 15 languages. Best-known short story: The Chronology Protection Case; Prof, Fordham Univ.

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Comments (5)

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  • Caroline Jane3 months ago

    I had to stop at "spoilers" but I read enough to be IN. I rarely watch TV so a good recommend especially one about music AND with Gary Oldman.... I am there. Thank you!

  • Lana V Lynx3 months ago

    Coming back to say congrats on Top Story!

  • Lol, that idiom lesson on taking the piss and taking a piss. I enjoyed reading this!

  • Lana V Lynx3 months ago

    I watched half of Season 1 of this show and liked it but never had time to watch more. I clearly need to catch up. Thanks for your insightful review.


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