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Season 2 Episode 5

Episode 5

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Jul 07, 2003 on BBC
out of 10
User Rating
103 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Tom's skills as leader are tested to their extremes when they take part in an Extreme Emergency Response Initiative Exercise (EERIE) to test their response to nuclear, chemical or biological act in central London, but when the power in the grid is cut and Harry starts to feel ill, they soon begin to suspect it is for real.moreless

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  • Sticks in the Memory

    This episode is one that has stuck in my mind as an all time great hour of Spooks. The writing as always was tense and focused both on the characters and the unfolding terror situation. Even if you could guess at the ending of the episode, the series overall is written in such a way that you are never quite sure of the lengths characters will go to which provides most of the tension in the episode. How far will Tom go? How far will he be pushed?

    (SPOILER ALERT) This episode also plays I think a vital turning point in Tom's career in the MI5 and his feelings towards the organisation. This is where we see him really question what they are doing to him as a person, particularly once the whole event is revealed to be a training exercise.

    And I think that's what does it for me on this episode. Not only is it a good stand alone story, but it begins to reveal the writers abilities to make subtle character story arcs, and that makes for great viewing.moreless
  • Perhaps one of the best episodes of British TV in the last decade. Flawless directing, believable acting and excellent sripting drags you, the viewer, into a world descending into chaos...

    This was the first episode of Spooks that I ever watched, and I did so on a rerun on digital TV. I generally avoid 'spy' shows, and had done so with this programme until I heard a radio DJ raving about this one episode as being the best hour of TV he had ever watched, bar none.

    With a little scepticism, and a healthy dose of cynicism, I tuned in and watched. The hour of TV that followed was, in one overused superlative, awesome!

    The premise of the episode while extreme, is believable, and the responses of the characters to the situation, varying from panic to ice cold control, are too.

    The filming of the entire episode takes place in their office and the usually well lit sanctum turns into a suitably claustrophobic mausoleum as the hour unfolds...

    I felt myself getting caught up in the proceedings, feeling a range anguish, panic, disbelief and anger as the usually well structured heirarchy falls around their ears. There is no clue throughout the entire epsiode of the reality of the situation, the flawless scripting, direction and acting combine to produce, in my mind, one of the best hours of Brtish television drama ever, bar none.

    I now own all available Spooks Seasons on DVD and watch the new episodes religiously. Spooks has had its bad momnents, every series does, it's just that the calibre of the show is so high even its low points are above the bar.moreless
  • now there was a fake part here

    There are a few ways to criticie this little episode. First of all, no matter how devious we think they ae , or we can be. We know and feel that this is a set-up from the word go. We see the footage, but we know we are looking at something that is not real, so why did we look? Becasue we are curious, this is good, because in the end, what this is all about is nothing you suspect. What a great revelation!

    The end of the story will give you the rightful shivers.

    This is indeed a jewel of an episode that you cannot afford to miss.moreless
  • Dreadful - I was really looking forward to yet another episode of Spooks but.........

    I started the episode and was really getting into it. The whole drama with Tom and his new girlfriend was playing out along with the recent forced breakup of Zoe who is clearly losing control.

    I also liked the way it started with the run-down of all the recent threats and grading them accordingly.

    Unfortunately the episode went 'to pot'. It was appallingly written with the suspense and tension completely absent. The entire plot was predictable from the first 10/15 minuets and the ending held no surprises.

    About half way through I decided that it wasn't worth watching the rest and procedded to do other, more interesting, things but due to me wanting to watch the next episode I had to watch the ending and sat there in boredom.

    I was truly shocked as it completely let down the entire rest of the series if not the entire show and it should have been directed differently. I can only hope that the next episode is better and resumes to normal or I may not watch the next series.moreless
  • A stunning hour of television

    This one episode alone is worth the price of the DVD. In a series of exceptional episodes, this one manages to pull off perhaps the most enjoyable hour of television I’ve seen.

    The programme starts with a disconcerting setup, with Ruth summarising the week’s major threats. This means we are introduced to three plot strands in three minutes - across the country families are sitting before the television, saying to each other “are we really supposed to be following this?”. But there is a payoff to those of us who were paying attention when, about half an hour later, we have a collective intake of breath and feeling of smugness as we realise before the rest of them who dunnit.

    Anyway, that slightly weird bit ends as abruptly as it started and we reach the meat of the episode, namely an EERIE (that’s Extreme Emergency Response Initiative Exercise to you and me) - VX gas has been released in Parliament Square, our trusty Spooks must limit the damage and just generally try to sort the whole mess out. A simple, slow-burn introduction is masterfully paced to give us moments of excitement between tense build up, all with a vague undercurrent of menace.

    From this basic scenario - variously known among us nerds as the ‘broken lift’ or ‘breakfast club’ scenario (main characters under stress in a contained environment to allow character development), and with one basic idea; “what if it’s not a drill?”, a stunning hour of television has been crafted without ever feeling contrived or gimmicky. Character development is present (we learn, among other things, that Zoë calls her father ‘daddy’. Not very Spooks, that), but it is not the clunky exposition-as-lecture we have come to expect from our television.

    Watching the extras on the DVD, I mused on the idea that Spooks comes close to the American imports Alias and 24 (not that we ever see them any more since the BBC and Channel Five cancelled… but that’s another story). What struck me was that in these early series, Spooks had all that was good in American drama while retaining some of the production values and concepts that feel very British. It had stylised graphics, slow-mo, split screen, all that stuff. But it remained detached, without slipping into the sentimentality that blights most drama series, both British and American. Comparing it to the recent fourth series, there is a noticeable difference in tone. While I enjoyed much of season 4, despite its uneven episodes, it cannot stand up to the original two, even three. It has become too slick, we have lost the charm it once had. It is now set in the 51st state. People no longer bat an eyelid when the guns are brought out, unlike I Spy Apocalypse where it is a huge deal and an integral plot point. In these earlier episodes, we do not have agents with spider senses, they don’t leap over tables whilst shooting with one hand. They are, in a word, human.

    While the idea that this kind of terrorist attack might happen in Britain was, at the time of broadcast, a worrying possibility, episodes like this one have taken on an extra resonance since July the seventh. Interestingly, this does not date the program - it does not seem like a relic from a different age in the same way as so many films and TV shows after 9/11. If anything, this new parallel has made the episode all the more powerful.

    This episode achieved the impossible; it made seasoned viewers forget convention, we forgot that there were still five episodes of the series to come, that we were not watching 28 days later. We believed for the best part of an hour that this could be happening, that our beloved characters might die. It genuinely thrilled, amused and shocked me. It made me think. And it had Danny standing around looking handsome. Which is always a plus.moreless
Annabelle Apsion

Annabelle Apsion

Bridget Macey

Guest Star

Mark Lewis Jones

Mark Lewis Jones

Mark Woolley

Guest Star

Jo Joyner

Jo Joyner

Stephanie Mills

Guest Star

Hugh Simon

Hugh Simon

Malcolm Wynn-Jones

Recurring Role

Rory MacGregor

Rory MacGregor

Colin Wells

Recurring Role

Megan Dodds

Megan Dodds

Christine Dale

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • At around 43 mins into the U.S. airing, when Tom locks Harry into his office, the sliding door he closes from Harry's perspective has its handle on the left, when shown from the other side, the door also has its handle on the left instead of the right.

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Stephanie: Who are you anyway?
      Tom: I'm the emergency executive officer at Thames House.
      Stephanie: MI5 – James Bond behind a desk, gettin' others to do the dirty work.
      Tom [ quietly ]: That's me.

    • Tom: Turnstile is an alternative seat of government; it's under the Cotswold Hills, in between Bath and Corsham. In an attack on the country, the cabinet and 250 officials and scientists would be moved there.
      Sam: Would you two go?
      Harry: Only the Director-General's name is on the list. The rest of us will have to make do.
      Sam: What if the rest of us die and they've got no country to run?
      Danny: I don't know, running a country with no people sounds like a politician's dream.

    • Tom: Have you got that weekly threat assessment from Downing Street?
      Ruth: Yeah. They like it nice and dumbed down, in pictures.

  • NOTES (3)

    • Because of the gradual destruction of the Grid during this story, this episode was shot in sequence (for the Grid storyline anyway). Because of this, and due to the long time spent together in one place filming this episode, the cast and crew became increasingly tired with being crammed together on set day after day - something that serves to add to the realism of the characters frustration with the situation.

    • The American title for this episode is I Spy Apocalypse.

    • Originally scheduled for 30 June 2003.


    • Harry: "…things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report…"
      Harry again uses a quote from the Bible, Philippians 4:8. The verse continues, "if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."