Watching London Spy has been an emotional Rollercoaster I really was not quite expecting. The final instalment shown on BBC2 last night was just a brutal battering about the head. The fact that Danny did not run screaming down the road screaming "WIBBLE WIBBLE" is testament to his fortitude and strength.
After Scottie's untimely end, used as a cautionary tale to stop Danny and the Professors exposing the work Alex had completed on the infallible "lie detection" Logarithms we see Danny and Claire at the Funeral and delivering a beautiful speech.
This is where the show has been a cut above other shows of this ilk, the lyrical nature of the dialogue particularly in the exchanges between Whishaw and the incomparable even in the midst of the deepest pathos they were mesmerising and true. Adrian Lester's brief appearance to say his involvement was done was fabulously played, his brittle coldness seemed the perfect juxtaposition for Whishaws quiet all consuming grief for really the only parent in his life (more on that later).
Scottie left his home and car to Danny and from this base of Operations Danny begins his single handed campaign to expose the truth. Now if I was a member of the spy fraternity I would have just snipered him through a window and put an end to the whole thing, but no this particular group love a rather more insidious route to a solution. Danny receives all of the manuscripts he sends to a variety of international publications back as sheaves of Blank paper and his emails disappear from his inbox.
Danny's day gets infinitely worse when his parents arrive on the pretext of his getting the chance a say goodbye to his terminally ill father. They were so obviously there under duress that when Danny exposed them you were just pleased the painful pretence was not dragged out any more unnecessarily.
It became even more obvious why Danny and Alex might have been drawn to each other, their parents were obviously not nurturing and loving. The family photo taken under the pretence of a final memory appears in his e-mails again as an ominous warning that everyone he knows however tenuously is at risk. His own slow burning death sentence obviously not enough to deter him.
What they do not seem to have factored in is that Danny's very loneliness is his biggest strength once they forced Scottie to his death, they lost their only bargaining chip. The disparate flatmates and Claire are tethers to his real life and enough for him not to spiral into a breakdown, but his resolve is now focused on one thing that Alex's Death not be in vain.
Danny decides enough is enough and returns to the Lion's Den that is Alex's Childhood home where Charlotte Rampling holds court like an evil queen in a Disney film. Colder than liquid nitrogen she sits in state with her pompous Husband rarely seen and better not heard, his disdain for Danny palpable. Frances sits Danny down and they finally talk openly at last. I rather wish they had left everything unsaid what comes to light makes what came before seem relatively tame. Both wear talismans of their love for Alex around their necks, he the locked chamber containing the drive, she the key to his room which is reminiscent of the rooms the police always find on the tail of a mass murderer in US shows.
The walls are covered in mathematical equations in chalk on the black walls and glass screens. It seems Frances was a promising Agent scuppered by her Husband's incompetence and friendships resulting in three moles being exposed within their circle and their being ostracised by the "Company" so Frances hatches a plan to make her son the Superspy she was never able to be, his brilliance just a tool in her plans to excel by proxy. A spy of her making. This manipulation of a child only intensifies the feelings of sympathy for poor Alex, a pawn in the game controlled by others.
The revelation that the child was not even hers, but the brilliant toddler of her servant caught stealing and using this and her substance abuse as leverage to basically claim him as her own; all the while keeping the poor woman on as nanny is just dark and twisted and her co dependency on him to give her worth is chilling. The loneliness born of living in a home filled with such deceit and selfishness created the vulnerable stunted man that only Danny could save.
It seems that saving came too late, Alex's truth algorythm had become too high profile and so he needed to be dealt with, so whilst Danny stands outside waiting for his lover for their planned weekend away, it seems poor Alex was locked in the box surrounded by GCHQ operatives in crime scene overalls with Mum one among them trying to convince him to leave for the USA under an assumed name, leaving behind all ties and links to the UK. He agrees but the ultimate tragedy is poor Alex's work is a total success and they KNOW he will not leave, will try to contact Danny and does not love or trust Frances to save him.
What is inferred is the success of this left Alex to be sacrificed in the name of national security to be used as the final lever to ensure that in the event he had shared his experiment with Danny, that he would be implicated and discredited. The coolness which this was implimented was sad and horrifying in equal measure. His struggles and cries from within the trunk are shocking and heartbreaking.
The burning of the Maze by Alex's real mother in a final act of defiance against the way her life and that of the son she obviously loved (or why else stay beyond his death?) has been steered and authored by the cold establishment, is symbolic of the way being made clear. Danny and ultimately Frances have nothing to lose anymore and the titles run as they drive off with slightly maniacal intent to bring the establishment down.
Did we get resolution? No
Will Danny Prevail? Highly doubtful.
Was this televison above the pale, acted with conviction and nuance very rare even on the BBC , Yes Oh yes!!
Should Ben Whishaw win every award possible this season? Most definitively!