Episode four of London Spy left us hanging – literally.
The final scene saw Danny discovering what ‘must’ be his friend Scottie’s lifeless body, hanging from a tree in the exact spot where he had previously revealed himself to be a former spy.
But this is no dead end: with one more episode still to play out, Danny has more secrets to discover.
“You’re looking for answers, but are you ready for them?” Danny was asked right at the beginning as he dug deeper into what really happened to his love Alex (Edward Holcroft). He deserves those answers – and so do we.
Here are just some of the questions we have after that penultimate episode…
Is Scottie really dead?
London Spy has a sneaky habit of not quite showing us the bodies. We haven’t seen Alex’s trunk-stuffed cadaver, and Danny wasn’t allowed to attend the ‘family’ funeral of his beloved partner.
But Scottie’s demise at the very end was almost too eerie, too dramatic. A body hanging from a tree where Scottie had revealed to Danny that he had almost committed suicide before. Was this another deadly show of force from Danny’s tormentors? Or has Scottie, after discovering the secret of the code cylinder, staged the perfect exit?
Why is Alex’s secret so dangerous?
So now we know exactly what Alex had discovered that had the spies of six separate countries so terrified: a lie detector.
Fine, we’re simplifying, but it’s a little hard to accept that Alex’s discovery is enough to bring down whole nations. He has created software that can detect whether you were lying or telling the truth based on the patterns of words – “a fingerprint for our truths and our lies”.
Unfortunately, the way it was described made it sound like the verbal equivalent of Google Keyword Planner. Are we wrong to feel a slight pang of disappointment that it wasn’t something more telling?
What will Danny do with the information?
Let’s accept the fact that this deadly information is valuable: what does Danny do next? The general thrust of the story has been to find a way to dissuade Danny from asking too many questions, but now that he has found some of the answers he has been looking for, what will he do with them?
He does not need to buy his way out of jail, as the police have dropped all charges. He does not need to exchange what he knows for the life of his friend, because Scottie is already – apparently – disposed of. But there must still be people interested in discovering what he knows.
Perhaps, for all the misdirection, there is someone out there very interested in seeing Danny succeed, crack the code and reveal Alex’s secret. Someone we have probably seen before. Which brings us to our next point.
Where is Clarke Peters?
The Wire actor has had only the smallest of roles up to now. We don’t even know this card-dispensing American’s name yet.
Danny has no more secrets to hide – he even let Scottie read his teenage diary – and yet everyone around him remains a mystery. Surely that means Clarke Peters is due a reappearance?
Or perhaps not. The genius of London Spy is that each cameo has breezed in and out so quickly that we’re never quite sure who’s meant to be the key to the puzzle. Charlotte Rampling, James Fox, Mark Gatiss… one by one, they arrive, steal the scene and then dissolve into the darkness. At least one of them has to return, if only so we can see them act their novelty socks off in the series climax.
The combination to Alex’s mysterious cylinder wasn’t really the code of a master mathematician was it, even one head over heels in love with ‘The One’? In espionage terms, that’s basically the equivalent of using ‘password’ as a password.
Having said that, it does play into Professor Marcus Shaw’s irritation at his gifted student’s relationship with Danny, the “love without knowledge” that eventually cost him his life.
Ah yes: Marcus (Adrian Lester) and his university chum Claire (Harriet Walker) know Alex’s secret too, of course. “If the four of us survive a week, I’ll be very surprised,” Marcus warned when he cracked Alex’s code. Scottie’s already (maybe) dead. One down… who to go?