Slow Horses Season 2 TV Review

Whole: Long-buried secrets of the Cold War are revealed, threatening to bring carnage to the streets of London. When a connection to Russian villains takes a fatal turn, our hapless heroes must overcome their individual failings and up their espionage game in a race to prevent a catastrophic incident.

Revision: Espionage is such a great concept that has been considered in countless movies and series over the years. Spies and secret agents make for thrilling storytelling that never lacks intensity or deep material to create entertaining stories. However, when we think of screen spies, the first thought is James Bond, Jason Bourne and Ethan Hunt. The first season of Slow Horses featured a very different take on spies, with a more realistic but darkly humorous approach. Led by Gary Oldman as the irascible Jackson Lamb, Slow horses returns for a second season that ditches the introductions needed in a first season and jumps right into a complex story with sleeper agents, Cold War holdovers, and good detective work. Better than ever, Slow horses continues to make a case for being one of the most intriguing spy takes in a very long time.

Filmed back to back with the first season, Slow horses returns with the continued work of rejected MI-5 agents assigned to Slough House, led by their tormented boss Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman). Most of the same agents from the first season are back, with the notable exception of Sid Baker (Olivia Cooke). Lamb still oversees rejected agents who are sent to his post as punishment when they perform dramatically. While most of the agents at Slough House are better than their reputations might let on, this season allows many of them to shine in their areas of expertise. River Cartwright (Jack Lowden), appointed after a public scandal embarrassed the agency, continues to look for a way to restore his reputation and get back into the good graces of Deputy Director Diana Taverner (Kristin Scott Thomas).

This season, based on Mick Herron’s second novel Slow dogs series Dead lions, opens with an elderly man following someone he recognizes through the streets and buses of London. When the man dies, Jackson Lamb personally investigates when he realizes he has a connection to the deceased. It quickly becomes apparent that the long-rumored sleeper agents linked to the former Soviet Union may be more than just a story. River, after learning that his grandfather (Jonathan Pryce) also knew the dead man, goes into the field to try to figure out why these mysterious agents suddenly appear decades later. At the same time, Slough House agents Louisa Guy (Rosalind Eleazar) and Min Harper (Dustin Demri-Burns) are requisitioned by James “Spider” Webb (Freddie Fox) for an unrelated mission that may be related to Lamb and Cartwright’s investigation .

Like season one, this second story arc is spread over six episodes. Adapting the entire novel in one season, Slow horses it keeps each episode taught and consistent by splitting the narrative between multiple characters. The main focus is kept on River Cartwright and Jackson Lamb, who are easily the most interesting characters, but there is a lot of time spent with the supporting players this season. While Roddy (Christopher Chung) has plenty of time in front of new Slough House recruits Shirley Dander (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) and Marcus Longridge (Kadiff Kirwan), it’s the pairing of Min and Louisa that gets the most attention. We also get a lot of development for Catherine Standish (Saskia Reeves), whose history with Lamb continues to unfold piece by piece throughout the season. Still, the highlight of this series remains Gary Oldman, who makes Lamb likable because of how unlikable he is. Whether it’s a brilliant insult or eating in the most disgusting way possible, Oldman imbues Lamb with a special set of skills that make him a truly gifted spy and detective beneath a gritty exterior.

Series creator Will Smith (no, not the slapper) shares writing duties this season with Morwenna Banks, Mark Denton and Jonny Stockwood, all of whom also worked on the first series. Each writer has two episodes that keep the tone and style consistent with series one and give this season the distinct flow of a standalone story that builds on what came before. Yes, this season is a continuation of the first, but it feels more like a true sequel than a second chapter. Jeremy Lovering directs all six episodes and makes this season a propulsive thriller with moving parts that the audience has to keep track of to try and figure out what’s going on. Slow horses it feels like an extended film this time around even more than in the first series, as Lovering throws us straight into the story without any build-up and keeps the tension at its peak for the entire six-hour episodes.

With two more seasons already approved by Apple, the story of Jackson Lamb and Slough House will have at least a pair of further mysteries to solve. With new characters introduced and the existing cast given more to do, this series has so much potential to become one of the best spy series of all time. Gary Oldman once stated this Slow horses he’s finishing his run, he might be moving away from acting and I can’t think of a better role to sign. This is a decidedly British series that never feels foreign or hard to watch and keeps things interesting at every turn. There are elements of a workplace comedy, a spy drama and enough action to satiate even the most jaded viewer. Slow horses is a solid addition to Apple’s growing library of branded programming, and I enjoyed this season even more than the first.

Season two of Slow horses awards on December 2 on AppleTV+.


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