SPOILER WARNING: The following contains significant plot details for London Spy episode 3
After Danny’s mysterious home counties escapade in episode 2, London Spy episode 3 took the story back into the capital.
A cleisiophobic nightmare (the fear of being locked in an enclosed space) is interrupted when police storm Danny’s flat. During interrogation he is played a recording of his private confession to his dead love Alex. The police claim this comes from an intercepted phone call. However, Danny (and we) know the conversation took place in the intimate setting of his bedroom. Still, it doesn’t look good – even his lawyer advises him to confess.
At the end of the previous episode, an enigmatic American delivered gave Danny a blue pill in a subtle threat. The meaning becomes clear when his flatmate finds the pill and asks him why he didn’t tell her of his condition. The penny drops. This is an anti-HIV medication. When he tests positive for HIV Danny becomes convinced he was deliberately infected during his interrogation.
Scottie, the ex-spy, considers this to be a further attempt to undermine Danny’s credibility. It will serve to portray him as a sexual risk taker. But the police interview also gives them a clue. The police sought to link Alex to a deviant sex club. Chasing this lead, Danny contacts Rich (Mark Gatiss), a drug dealer and possible pimp, who he knew before meeting Alex and getting his life together.
Scottie holds a meeting with an establishment figure (James Fox) at his club – the kind with leather chairs, copies of The Times, and brandy on the menu rather than crystal meth and group sex. Here it is confirmed that whatever it is that Alex was killed for, it is something that has united practically every intelligence agency on the global stage against them. Trust no-one indeed.
London Spy took another bold new direction in this episode, whilst retaining its individual flavour. The highly contemporary health issue of chemsex was graphically explored. Those who complained to Ofcom after episode one’s frank but tender love scene will have been apoplectic faced with the carnal horrors shown in flashback here.
Ben Whishaw continues to impress as Danny; his denial, sorrow and horror when receiving the results of his HIV test was an acting tour-de-force. Jim Broadbent walks a tightrope between making Scottie a character who elicits sympathy while never seeming completely trustworthy. As the vile Rich, Mark Gatiss surely made every viewer’s flesh crawl – perhaps even surpassing his many League of Gentlemen characters for creepiness.
London Spy continues to approach the espionage thriller format from startlingly original angles. It is, however, developing a significant elephant in the room. For what reason was Alex killed? Why does it seem that every part of the British establishment that Danny encounters – from the press to the police – is part of a conspiracy intended to destroy him? The mystery is assuming epic proportions. Whilst I have no doubt answers will only come in the final episode, they will need to be good ones to avoid a feeling of massive anticlimax.
Directed by Jakob Verbruggen
Written by Tom Rob Smith
Cast: Ben Whishaw; Jim Broadbent; Mark Gatiss; Harriet Walter; Zrinka Cvitesic; Edward Holcroft
Review by Stuart Barr.
Did you tune in for London Spy episode 3? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below – and don’t miss the next episode on Monday 30th November at 9pm on BBC Two.