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Review of 'Slow Horses' season 2

Faster Than You Think

By Paul LevinsonPublished about a month ago 6 min read
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2.1-2.2

Slow Horses is back (I keep wanting to say "are back") on Apple TV+ with the first two episodes of its second (short) season.

The repartee is better than ever, with Cartwright chiding Lamb for eating his ramon like a "dying horse," whatever exactly that means. He looked ok to me, and I was glad we at least didn't get another demonstration of his flatulence (sorry, was that a spoiler?).

[Anyway, there may be spoilers ahead ... ]

Sid was still gone, but we did get Shirley Dander (Aimee-Ffion Edwards), who may be Sid's replacement? Plotwise, all four of the investigative horses -- Lamb, Cartwright, Guy, and Harper -- are in top form, better than in the first season, in fact. They seem closer to succeeding than earlier this year, making a lot of progress on the case at hand.

That case is pretty good, too. Phil Davis puts in a good few minutes at the beginning of the first episode as the ill-fated former spy Dickie Bets who dies of an induced heart attack on a bus. (The London ambience is gritty and effective.) Good to see him (Phil) back on the screen. The Russkies as either bad guys, pawns in a bigger game, or both, do a convincing job, though their role as likely villains is so well worn it's almost funny-- Wait, maybe that's the point?

Mick Jagger singing a little at the beginning and more at the end if very welcome again, and never gets out of date. Speaking of which, however: I caught a mention of "Her Majesty" in the first episode, which dates this second season. I would have gone in and overdubbed a "His Majesty," but, hey, what do I know, I'm an American.

2.3

Whew, Slow Horses aren't/isn't fooling around this season -- not that they/it weren't/wasn't deadly serious along with their/its deadpan humor in the first two seasons -- but [spoilers follows ...]

Killing off a major supporting character at the beginning of the third episode is one wicked move. Not to mention that Min was one of the more lovable characters, especially by Louisa. But just to make sure you -- the viewer -- didn't get too upset about this loss, it was fun to see all the other characters reacting true to form to Min's death.

Especially Ho, who remarks that Min was "ok for an average guy". We've seen sarcastic, self-absorbed computer guys before, but Ho has become the definitive portrayal of that archetype in my book. And Lamb's response, "I hope you don't get to write my obit," was just right for Lamb, too.

But Lamb is getting to be a much more serious character than he was last season. He doesn't believe for an instant that Min's death on the bicycle was an accident, even though he did have a lot alcohol in him. The next-to-final scene of Lamb confronting the woman who claimed to be the driver was a great piece of MI-6 work, whatever the name of the unit.

Of course, the whole point of this narrative is that Slough House isn't really slow at all. Indeed, as Spider's comments again make clear, it's the agents back at headquarters who are little behind the eight ball, at least some of them, some of the time. But you do get the feeling, watching this series, with Mick Jagger singing at the beginning and the end (I keep mentioning that because he's so good), but you do get the feeling that these slow horses may be the best defense our free world can muster.

Even if Lamb takes off his well-worn shoes and puts his socked feet up on his desk right in front of a fan (not a devotee of the series, a fan that moves the air). Hey, that's how the man does his best thinking.

2.4-2.5

A good outing for our bunch of "misfits and boozers," to quote Mick Jagger in the title song--

Episode 2.4 was brilliant, with first class spywork by Lamb in cracking the case of how Min was really killed, and the best episode so far as well for River, literally out in the field. He even had me hoping he'd get lucky with that daughter on the ranch. (I don't know, that whole place had a U. S out-West vibe, didn't it?)

Episode 2.5 was outstanding, too. We get a subtle return of Lamb's flatulence in silent but deadly form -- well, not really deadly, you have to be careful using such words about this kind of series -- and ...

[Spoilers ahead ...]

Spider getting just what he deserves. Ok, I don't mean to be so callous about it, he is one of ours, and the scene with him with the blood on the floor was pretty ugly, but I can't say I hope he somehow survives on my "if you're not shot in the head, you can make it" principle, which I think always rules in television. But he is an outstandingly obnoxious character in a series that excels in that. (Who's the second most obnoxious -- Roddy? Yeah.)

One thing about Slow Horses I really don't much like is that the series moves too fast. I mean, just one more episode in Season 2? Soon I won't have any more episodes to review, until another short season, #3, comes sarcastically along.

2.6

An outstanding finale to the short six-episode season two of Slow Horses on Apple TV+ last night.

Here are some of my many favorite parts [of course, spoilers ahead ... ]:

  • The double funeral for Min was sad, hilarious, perfect in every way. I even learned something: this season of Slow Horses is taking place in 2016. Was that known before? Possibly, I may have dozed off for a second in a previous episode.
  • River's grandfather getting the best of his would-be assassin. As he told River when he was chided by River for opening the front door.
  • Roddy (I decided to just stay with first names in this review) getting some real action (that is, combat of sorts, not love) in the field.
  • Louisa at both Min funerals. and also what Louisa did to that Russian killer. (I lost count of how many of the Russian killers were bald. Three?)
  • Lamb explaining that his team can't be humiliated, because they've already been all humiliated.
  • I know I've said this many times already, but it's worth repeating: Mick Jagger's "Strange Games" sounds better than ever, every time I hear it. The song and its performance are worthy successors to Johnny Rivers' (no relation) "Secret Agent Man".

And here's one thing I didn't like:

  • Spider survived. Ok, I know the character plays an important role, but I just don't like him.

There will be a Season 3, and I'll be back here with reviews. In the meantime, Happy New Year!

in hard cover, paper, and Kindle

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About the Creator

Paul Levinson

Novels include The Silk Code & The Plot To Save Socrates; LPs Twice Upon A Rhyme & Welcome Up; nonfiction includes Fake News in Real Context, The Soft Edge, & Digital McLuhan translated into 15 languages. Details here. Prof, Fordham Univ.

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