Spooks can be hard to keep up with thanks to its ever-changing character roster, but the series 9 premiere is a great place to jump back even in if you’ve not been keeping up. Aside from the first ten minutes or so, when the loose ends from the previous series are tied up, no prior knowledge is assumed.
The premiere sees Lucas North (Richard Armitage) board a ship in Morocco on a mission to eliminate Al-Qaeda member Hussein Abib. It’s a fairly gripping assignment with its share of danger and risk. As always, the bad guys are cold and merciless; this episode, they (again) show no regard for human life. And while some of the twists along the way are somewhat predictable if you’re familiar with the show, the climax is intense viewing.
While Lucas is arguably the leading character, it is new recruit Dimitri Levendis who becomes the main focus of the ship scenes. Convincingly played by The Tudors’ Max Brown, he is eager to impress and, conveniently, is given the opportunity to do so. Offered slightly less screen-time is newcomer Beth Bailey (Sophia Myles)--perhaps seen as a direct replacement for Ros. Described as “overly self-interested and potentially arrogant” by Harry, she might take a couple of episodes to warm to. The details of her past are rather sketchy, and her trustworthiness hasn’t been wholly proven yet (though Myles tells TV.com that this will change as the series evolves).
Ros’ death, at the end of last season, is briefly touched on at the start. Harry (Peter Firth) is taking it particularly hard. First, he impulsively proposes to Ruth, and then, more significantly, he announces his intention to resign. Harry doesn’t believe the sacrifices of his (many) deceased agents are worthwhile, and wants to leave the harshness of that world behind him. As if to drive home the point, the episode soon puts Harry in a real dilemma, and a possibly costly one at that. But whether he goes through with the resignation is something you’ll have to tune in to find out.
The final scene of the premiere hints at storylines to come; there’s a revelation about Lucas that is likely to grab your attention. With that and the vagueness of Beth’s history, it looks like series 9 will mix plenty of intrigue with the standard compelling drama aspects that Spooks is known for. The series is still the same intense show as it was when it started nine years ago, albeit with a different cast, and it’s still worth watching. It returns to BBC One at 9pm tonight.