“Slow Horses,” the hit AppleTV+ series about a sad bunch of MI5 agents condemned to a career-ending office at London’s top-secret Slough House, begins Season 2 this week with a complex assassination plot.
The series, based on Mick Herron’s best-selling thrillers, has been called a successor to John Le Carre’s Everest of spy stories.
Slough House – erroneously dubbed ‘Slow Horses’ – has Gary Oldman’s abrasive but brilliant Jackson Lamb leading his band of disgraced agents. Alongside him is the steady, sensitive, recovering alcoholic Catherine Standish (Saskia Reeves), who might be the office administrator but is actually his straight-laced, semi-caring assistant.
As S2 vividly shows, Standish is more than capable of going to the mat to save the lives of Lamb and Slough House. “It’s a group of highly dysfunctional misfits, outcasts from the MI5 building in Regent’s Park. They’ve all got their problems, they’ve all had massive failures — and we get to know them from all different angles,” Reeves, 61, explained in a Zoom interview.
“Catherine reminds everyone that she worked for the head of MI5, who killed herself in the bathroom. Everyone blames her – and she blames herself for not being sober enough or together enough to see it coming. She was his secretary. But she was much more than that.
“As we find out in Season 2, she did everything for him. She bought his clothes, took his groceries, took care of him. I imagine they stayed up late at night, drinking whiskey, talking about operations and all sorts of people and situations. He was privy to a lot of very private information about what MI5 was doing. So she’s got a lot of experience and she’s been underused in Slough House – as they all are.”
Catherine’s relationships are explicitly shown in S2. Part of the pleasure of the show — already renewed for two more seasons — is watching Oldman’s Lamb continually explode into tirades of rage against anyone near him. He has a lion’s roar and Catherine has no problem handling it.
“Jackson Lamb is aware on some level of how useful she is. But he doesn’t want to give him any credit. For any. I think when she becomes acutely aware of how rejected she is by the other people in Slough House, it gives her the drive to do something! Because she understands and knows she’s smart. She’s very, very smart. But she is completely underrated all the time.
“Which,” Reeves said with a smile, “is a lot of fun. Then we see it being quite wonderful and effective.”
“Slow Horses Season 2” airs on AppleTV+ on December 2