Goodbye, Spooks, and thanks for all the memories

The spy drama bows out with a thrilling episode – what did you think of the ending? (spoiler alert)

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Spoiler alert: don’t read on if you’ve yet to see the final episode…

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So, it’s all over. After ten series, countless explosions – and just as many poignant moments between cast stalwarts Peter Firth and Nicola Walker – spy drama Spooks has melted back into the shadows.

Plenty will disagree with me, but I think Kudos’s decision to cancel the series was the right one. Spooks necessarily dealt with the impact of the MI5 agents’ jobs on their home lives, but in recent years too many dull and unbelievable personal storylines have pervaded it (Adam, Fiona and their now-you-see-him-now-you-don’t son was the nadir for me).

But that doesn’t mean I won’t miss the stomach-clenching tension as an agent in the field faces discovery, or worse – Spooks never shied away from killing off its characters, so you could never be sure that the attractive/endearing/plucky face on the screen would survive.

Of the fond memories doing the rounds on Twitter last night, the deep-fat fryer incident from season one rated high. For me, the most shocking death was that of harmless, geeky Colin, but whatever – after all these years Spooks hadn’t lost its power to shock. This series, it was Tariq who was dispatched when the audience least expected it. Who’d have thought working from home would be so dangerous?

But I have to admit, for all the exciting storylines, intriguing technology and the number of times we saw Rupert Penry-Jones with his shirt off, the thing that really kept me watching was the interplay between Harry Pearce and Ruth Evershed. It was the one relationship that I never begrudged its screen time.

Their understated romance not once threatened to capsize Spooks. Rather it subtly underlined it. Firth and Walker always kept their characters’ emotions buttoned down and so much was said with a look that they never needed a crassly written line. Last night, their unconventional courtship was resolved in the most painful way – though when you thought about it, it was probably the only way.

Star Peter Firth hinted at the start of this run how it would end: “This series is a six-act Greek tragedy with a profoundly tragic ending. But there’s an optimistic note to tell you that the fight isn’t over.” But did you pick the right surviving character?

I’d have loved to have seen Harry and Ruth walk hand-in-hand into a Suffolk sunset. I even sent a prayer to the god of scriptwriting to let the pair make it through. But I knew my plea was fated to fall on deaf ears – not only because of the writers’ tendency to bump off lead characters, but also because it wouldn’t have been true to the show. As the dying Ruth explained to Harry, happy endings aren’t for people like them.

I’d studiously avoided reading cast lists, so the appearance of Matthew Macfadyen as fan favourite Tom Quinn came as a real – and very welcome – surprise. And what a fabulously gritty return – sent by Harry to dispense justice to the man ultimately responsible for Ruth’s death.

And though it’s ridiculous to think that, after all he’d done in the past few episodes, Harry could ever return to his post, I’m glad he did. However bloodied and beaten down, his work is who he is. It’s an ending that allows us to believe that, just like their real-life MI5 counterparts, Harry, Erin, Dmitri and co are out there somewhere, risking everything to keep the rest of us safe from harm.

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Will you miss the spy drama? Or was it the right time to say goodbye? Post a comment and let us know.