Thursday, December 10, 2009

Spooks 8 - 6 Ros/Baisley

I loved this episode, it made me gape, exhale, wimper, and left me on a high that transcends trivialities like spoiler warnings. So consider that the warning. Oh the pathos, the purple hoody and the plastic packaging!

Ros and Baisley the grump

Doesn't the Baisley guy look like a goblin grim reaper? He has the most wild-eyed troll face. Here's a montage of his slack-jawed madness.

 My first montage: Baisley's mouth

For some obscure financial reasons which I immediately forgot, Britain can't pay its debt and is at risk of chaos and anarchy come Tuesday. MI5 are trying to confiscate some illegal funds which will help the country get by, but their guy on the inside Baisley is trying to stick them for more moolah.

I love it when an episode twists around parallel plot strands, dips it in melodrama and runs for its life. Especially when the characters learn something on the way - it makes me feel more mature just by watching! Episode 6 weaves two major plot strands, each culminating in a kick-ass bittersweet moment. The Ros/Baisley one totally earned it, but the Lucas/Sarah one didn't.

Part 1: Ros/Baisley

'Pre-Richard Armitage me' used to think that passion and drama were pimped by performances alone, but then I started this blog and found out emotional scenes have to be evolved in the plot, not just dropped like a bomb from the sky. There were plenty of ingredients in the Ros/Baisley thread that helped pull off the peak of awesomeness.

Anyone finds out I lost my cool, you die

One of the difficulties of a new storyline every ep is that it sets up a revolving door of villains and victims. As the pace moves faster those one-hit-wanderers get thinner and flatter. Can anyone remember the names of the guys that got offed in ep1 to 3 or 5? By comparison Baisley is well fleshed out, part victim, part dweeb. Throughout the negotiations with MI5 he demands constant reassurance that his family is safe. Never mind the team of hitmen, he stops at a payphone to deliver a gulping breathless warning to his wife to RUN. He won't be getting any employee of the year awards, but he's no cackling extortionist. His crisis is the result of his own actions, so we get to feel torn and maybe root for him to learn the error of his ways.You can't help but feel for the guy.

I need more matches

Payoff is more satisfying when people have suffered for it, so it was with sadistic glee that I watched Ros publicly lose it. Baisley's as hard to catch as the roadrunner! In some eps things happen too conveniently or we just get told in exposition, but in this one we see Baisley's every emotion (remember the montage?) as he runs for his life, and the whole MI5 team working to save him. Every failed attempt tightens the tension and makes us more desperate. Just when Ros thinks she has him, he slips away again. AARGH!!! The cheek of that guy! Where's a stressball and leash when you need one?! It's a relief to let off steam for the audience too. When she finally catches up with Baisley again there's no way she's waiting for backup. Save or die.

Get your own Baisley

Another strength is their resentful connection. They start off full of posturing and demands with neither side willing to give a cent. Then the danger hits and the compromises begin. Ros lowers her defences to draw him in; a name for a name, a truth for a truth. Later she confesses the sins of her job "I lie a lot" and is no longer the morally superior acerbic enforcer, she is reaching out to his level.

Their connection also comes from their parallels, and the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Baisley may be indirectly responsible for the death of his beloved family but Ros actually pulled the trigger on her colleague. Harry thinks Ros' desperation to save Baisley springs from transposing Jo, but Baisley also reflects Ros' culpability. Without giving up the names she/he can't redeem her/himself. In a trembling voice she pleads with him as her last walls come down. She sits there helpless, faced with herself and her own self-blame and remorse played out in his tragedy.

With her admission of guilt, Baisley reciprocates and voices his own role in the deaths. The names he clung to so tightly are now useless and only remind him of his disastrous gamble. When he peels them off his body it's like a snake shedding an old skin. What a bittersweet moment as Ros watches him unwrap and discard those layers that brought him to ruin.

Where does she go from here? She is struggling to deal with That Shot, but her unflinching work ethic will demand it of her just as ruthlessly tomorrow. This is as close to a crisis of identity as she can get. She lives the job, but today can hardly live with herself. Hermione Norris as Ros has officially won me over. Why did she have to wait so long? We could have been such good friends.

Part 2: Lucas/ here.


Phylly3 said...

Brilliant review of this episode! I too enjoyed watching Ros's mask start to slip. I loved it when she "lost it" in the middle of the street.
How about her torturing the banker? Wow! She really wasn't playing by the book there. Funny how I didn't mind a banker getting roughed up. You go girl!
I also love your snakeskin metaphor!

Nat at RA FanBlog said...

I also loved Ros in this episode & now I'm really bummed at the thought of her leaving. :(
The guy who played Baisley was the stuttering pilot in "Pearl Harbor." It's proof he's a good actor since I didn't realize he wasn't American until watching him in "Spooks" last week. (He should've given some pointers to that Sarah lady.) Great review! I'm looking forward to part 2. :)

Starheart said...

Phylly3, thanks! it's funny how if the story is going well enough your mind forgives the niggling details. Later when i rewatched it I did wonder how Ros could possibly get away with it, even if that bank manager was going to trial/jail. Maybe she blackmailed him.

Nat, It's taken me a long time to warm to Ros (i've seen some of series 6 too) and yeah it's a shame she's leaving. : (
I hardly remember Pearl Harbour but he was also in Death at a Funeral with Matthew Macfadyen. Apparently he was in trainspotting too. I love his crazy face pulling.

Phylly3 said...

Haha! Death at a Funeral! My husband's favourite movie!! I just checked IMDB and it appears he is also in Strikeback. Can't wait to see that!