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Slow Horses Season 2 Episode 5 Review

Slow Horses rewards our patience with a slick episode 5, offering a relief from the tension whilst dramatically moving its chess pieces ready for the finale.

This review may contain slight spoilers for episode 5 (“Boardroom Politics”) of Slow Horses season 2.

If the majority of Slow Horses’ season 2 has been full of tension-building, intrigue and cat-versus-mouse chases, episode 5 is where the mice – or the cats, depending on your outlook – walk into their traps. It sets up its stakes and gives us the action we’ve been waiting for, although decidedly not all of it, leaving a little – or, maybe rather a lot, – of the good stuff for next week’s finale.

Hog-tied in the office, River (Jack Lowden) frustratedly watches as Alex (Catherine McCormack) flies off to London in a plane seemingly loaded with explosives. He frantically explains his situation to her confused family, before calling the bomb threat in to Taverner (Kristin Scott Thomas). It’s pretty bad timing, as she’s standing in front of a crowd of angry anti-capitalist protesters, watching over the Home Secretary (Samuel West) as he prepares to make a speech. Meanwhile, Lamb (Gary Oldman) is deep in MI5’s archives, trying to get as much information on Nickolai (Rade Sherbedgia) as he can, while Louisa (Rosalind Eleazar) and Marcus (Kaddif Kirwan) apprehensively attend the meeting with Pashkin (Alec Utgoff) and Webb (Freddie Fox).

On the back of last week’s episode, wherein it felt like the tension was being pulled a little too tightly, this week offers some much needed action. In typical Slow Horses fashion though, writers Mark Denton and Jonny Stockwood keep it in tune with the series’ habit of emphasising the mundane aspects of spy work. It’s a chess game, and so while the bold moves are rewarded with some explosive – not literally – moments, the thrill is in how the pieces are moving over the board, coalescing together until there’s a winner. The episode’s most exciting moments take place in a boardroom and in a basement surrounded by file cabinets; hardly the exotic locales of traditional spy-fare. But it’s very in keeping with the series’ style and what makes it so interesting.

loud and clear reviews slow horses season 2 episode 5 apple tv+ series show 2022
A still from Season 2 episode 5 of “Slow Horses,” now streaming on Apple TV+. (Courtesy of Apple TV)

The series has been consistently clever this season in emphasising that, while they might have been delegated to the rubbish bin of MI5, the Slough House gang are good at their jobs. While the shoe is dropping for the audience, our heroes are (mostly) already prepared to catch it. Our reviews have also consistently talked about the strength of the cast, but they’re such an asset to a show that prioritises character and the banalities of life as a spook. It’s a pleasure to have Scott Thomas back onscreen as the wonderfully acerbic Taverner, even if she sadly isn’t given that much to do, and the episode’s crescendo feels both satisfying and frustrating. It eases some of the tension that has been building over the past two episodes, but also leaves the most exciting parts of the showdown for next week.

Episode 5 is a decent reward for the waiting over the past two weeks, but makes sure to leave us on the edge of our sofas for another one. It wouldn’t be surprising for Slow Horses to end in a low-key way, to turn expectation on its head and end as abruptly and as off-kilter as it started – although perhaps not in a sex shop this time. But that does run the risk of feeling like we’ve been cheated out of seeing the Slough House gang let off the reins, especially since the web they’ve weaved has been so intriguing over the course of the past five episodes. For better or worse, season 2 of Slow Horses has been an exercise in patience and pulling on that tension string so tight it frays, but we have faith that the finale will reward our hard work.

Season 2 Episode 5 of Slow Horses is now available to watch on AppleTV+.


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Slow Horses Season 2 Finale Review – Loud And Clear Reviews
The finale of Slow Horses’ Season 2 offers a very in-keeping climax, showcasing its writers’ dedication to the tone, wit and character-focus.
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