Previously on 'Mi-5'
This Week's Episode: "Traitor's Gate"
To protest President Bush's upcoming London visit, anarchists have taken to the streets in great numbers. Surveying the demonstrations from several stories up, Zoe and Danny (David Oyelowo) watch one protestor and his female companion cornered by riot police. But this man is no ordinary citizen. He is legendary former Mi-5 agent Peter Salter (Anthony Head). The order is given, and the riot police let Salter and his companion go. Is Salter deep undercover? Why wasn't anybody briefed?
After taking a bullet to the side during the Turkish Consulate raid, Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) has no choice but to reveal his true identity and occupation to his oblivious girlfriend Ellie (Esther Hall). "Once I tell you," Tom informs her, "there's no going back." Justifiably angry, Ellie scolds him, mocks him ("I'll change my name, too. Call me Pussy Galore."), then demands that he tell the truth to her young daughter Maisie (Heather Cave).
Back at Mi-5, Zoe and Danny look further into Salter's past. With Oxford degrees in math and philosophy and a vast knowledge of advanced computer code-breaking, Salter volunteered to join Mi-5, where he recruited and trained many officers, including none other than Tom Quinn. When a still-wounded Tom gets wind of Salter's return, he comes back to Mi-5 demanding to know why Salter was out in the field without Tom knowing. Harry (Peter Firth) informs Tom that he sent him out for an operation to learn more information about noted euro-anarchist Istvan Vogel (Jules Werner), a joint venture with Britain's Secret Intelligence Service Mi-6. Harry brings Tom along on a meeting with Mi-6 Section Chief Jools Siviter (Hugh Laurie), where they listen in on Salter making love to his companion, anarchist Andrea Chambers (Bronwen Davies). Salter reveals his spy identity to Andrea, whom he loves, then proceeds to destroy all the bugs in the apartment, cutting off government surveillance.
A suspicious Tom sets up a secret meeting with Salter at a tube station. Salter tries to convince Tom that this is all part of a greater plan to gain access to Vogel. But Tom is just as good a spy as Salter, telling him that he's not doing this for country but for the love of a woman. "She's a believer, Tom," Salter says. "That's what makes her so beautiful." Tom makes the decision to pull Salter from the mission and get him back to Mi-5 for as long as possible.
Salter has a plan up his sleeve, though, and he is easily able to extract Andrea from her Camden hideout while evading the watchful eye of Zoe and Danny's surveillance methods. In return, Andrea brings him to Cernwyth, North Wales, where he finally gets face-to-face time with Vogel.
At Mi-5, believing he's in trouble for letting Salter out of his sights, Danny gets a surprise when Harry exposes Danny's credit card fraud, a scheme he's been able to accomplish via Mi-5's computer equipment. Harry takes Danny's credit cards, cuts them up, and tasks him with office staff training as punishment. Meanwhile, Harry asks Tessa to look into one of her homegrown anarchist group contacts, one Billy Turner, to see if he can be of any help to their current case. Tessa responds that Turner is entirely unreliable, but Harry will take any lead he can get, sending Zoe to rendezvous with Turner.
At the rendezvous in Hampstead Heath, Zoe discovers that Billy Turner doesn't exist. He is actually one of many "phantom agents" Tessa has invented in order to earn some extra cash. In order to keep Zoe quiet, Tessa gives her £10,000 and tells her to report that Turner never showed up.
At Medway University, Salter, Andrea, and a group of anarchists break into a computer lab focused on geographic topology. A security guard spots them and sounds the alarm, and as the anarchists escape , Salter intentionally stays behind to plant a virus in a computer that would "alter calculations of the flight paths over UK air space," intending to crash Air Force One.
At Mi-5, Tom interrogates the captured Salter. After easily looking through his lies, Tom tells Salter that they have captured Andrea. Distraught that the love of his life is under government watch, Salter gives up Vogel's location. When Tom asks why Salter would ever consider betraying his own government, Salter responds, "Boredom. Crippling, chest-tearing, bum-clenching boredom." Asking for a bathroom break, Salter incapacitates Tom and fatally hangs himself from a stall with his belt, taking the secret of what he did with that university computer to his grave.
With Vogel's people uncovered, Jools celebrates with Mi-5 before preparing for Bush's visit the next day. It seems that Salter's dastardly plan might go off without a hitch until Danny, while training the new recruits, puts the plan together and calls everybody in. Tom, having received this call the minute he walks back into his house, turns to leave Ellie behind once again, only to hear a news report that, due to a failsafe air traffic shutdown, President Bush's plane has been safely rerouted to Paris.
Hey! I Know That Actor!
Anthony Head, who portrays Peter Salter, is best known to American audiences as Rupert "Ripper" Giles, Buffy's watcher on the cult television classic "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Mi-6 Section Chief Jools Siviter is played by Hugh Laurie, famous in the UK for his performances on "Blackadder," "A Bit of Fry & Laurie," and "Jeeves and Wooster." In the United States, however, we know him best for his eight-year run as the cantankerous Dr. Gregory House on Fox's "House, M.D."
Marcus Gorman is the editor of the film blog TEXTTen Years Ago: Films in Retrospective and the author of the upcoming novel "triceratops."