'Mi-5,' Episode Nine Recap: 'Spiders'

Miss an episode of this spy-centric BBC One series? Then read our 'Mi-5' recaps here!

Previously on Mi-5

Mi-5 enlists in the help of an Algerian spy in order to infiltrate a Birmingham mosque suspected of breeding teenage suicide bombers, but when Tom (Matthew Macfadyen ) has doubts about the spy's allegiance, it could mean the difference between an ordinary day and the elimination of hundreds of innocent civilian lives.

This Week's Episode: "Spiders"

Written by: Matthew Graham
Directed by: Rob Bailey

When Mi-5's computer database is hacked, they trace the signal back to an IT fair taking place at a community center in Stoke Newington. Danny (David Oyelowo) and his team roll up, evacuate the center, and locate the laptop in question. Danny breaks the connection to Mi-5, causing an animated spider to crawl across the screen, and emit a high-frequency pulse that scrambles the laptop's information. Mi-5's protection is restored, but at a cost: They have lost contact with two of their agents, code names Anthony and Cleopatra, who are under fire on location in Pakistan.

Mi-5 gets a message from the hackers, taken from Homer's "The Iliad": "Zeus spoke and nodded with his darkish brows and immortal locks fell forward from the lord's deathless head, and he made great Olympus tremble." As intelligence analysis expert Ruth (Nicola Walker) volunteers her service researching ancient mythology, the team looks through surveillance footage of the IT fair and focuses on Gordon Blaney (Christopher Fairbank), a former activist in the SFM (Socialist Freedom Movement) and suspected terrorist from a nail bomb attack years earlier. Lucky for them, they already have a way into the SFM in the form of one of Danny's alter egos, a freelance journalist named "Ray" who already has an in with underground socialist newspaper "Red Cry."

Zoe is assigned the identity of 25-year-old "Jane Graham" and given work as a teacher at Highdale School, where Blaney also teaches. "Jane" quickly establishes a friendship with Blaney. During an open window in the suspect's schedule, Zoe breaks into his office looking for anything that could put him away, but comes up with nothing.

As Danny works his angle at the "Red Cry" offices, claiming to them that he has a mole inside Mi-5, Zoe begins to doubt Blaney's villainy, noticing that he truly seems to care about the students he teaches. These doubts increase when she follows Blaney to a shed at the school, where she finds him trying to calm the fears of bullied teenage boy Peter (Augustus Prew). They bond over the boy, and Zoe gives Peter a ride home, hoping to speak to Peter's father about the bullying. Alas, Peter's father works long hours and is not available.

At the "Red Cry" offices, Danny shows up hoping to meet Blaney in a set-up interview. When one of the Socialists becomes paranoid about the vans parked on the street outside, Mi-5 has no choice but to infiltrate the offices, arrest everybody and impound their computers. Back at headquarters, Zoe grills Blaney about his hacking, but he claims ignorance of the crimes of which he has been accused. "I charged a few riot shields in my youth," Blaney cries, "and you decide I'm a psychopath." If Blaney isn't the culprit, then who is?

Meanwhile, Peter works from his home computer, but his father Victor (William Gaminara), also in the room, calls him Noah. "There's nothing Mi-5 can build that my boy can't get over," he says proudly, and within minutes, Noah/Peter breaks through the government agency's firewall. Before Mi-5 can bring the firewall back up, Noah/Peter gets access to the mainframe and leaves another message: "Highdale School is getting a visit from number 94." Ruth quickly deduces that this is in reference to plutonium -- number 94 on the periodic table.

Tom and the team race to Highdale and evacuate the school, accidentally leaving their surveillance shed impregnable. As Mi-5 falls for a red herring -- a Geiger scrambler that would throw off their plutonium readings -- Noah/Peter goes to the unprotected computers in the surveillance shed, scans for access codes, goes home, plugs in the codes, and gains unprecedented access to Mi-5's mainframe, leaving behind a third message: "We have access to every part of you. Even the Inner Sanctum. We will now download everything. We will expose every one of your dirty secrets. Your people will be free and Olympus will crumble. Good riddance."

As the clock ticks down, Tom looks over the IT fair surveillance footage again and spots Noah/Peter in the crowd of evacuated attendants. Using audio recordings from a failed mission to Greece some years earlier, Tom puts it together: Noah Gleeson is the son of Victor Gleeson, and both were kidnapped by Albanian terrorists while Victor was on assignment in Athens. While under capture, Noah could do nothing as he watched his father be tortured and ultimately murdered. It becomes clear: Noah has had a psychotic breakdown, and he has been having conversations not with his father but a figment of his imagination.

Zoe is already one step ahead of Tom, and has realized that it was Noah who placed the Geiger scrambler in the shed, not Blaney. She makes her way to Noah's house, where he is only minutes away from wiping out all of Mi-5's information. Mi-5 never came to save him and his father, and so by hacking into Mi-5, he reasons, he could bring all the field agents home, regardless of how much damage he'd be inflicting on the government agency. He had set up Blaney, a man with a criminal past, knowing that Mi-5 would send an agent and surveillance experts into the school. When Tom finally arrives at the house, he brushes past a weak, worried Noah, hits the ESC button on the computer, and frees up the hacked connection. Communications at headquarters is restored, and the team gets in immediate contact with Cleopatra. She is safe, but Anthony is dead.

In the aftermath, Mi-5 apologizes to Blaney and relocates him to a new school. Noah is placed in a psychiatric hospital, where he plays chess with his invisible dead father.

Hey! I Know That Actor!

Christopher Fairbank, who plays suspected terrorist Gordon Blaney, has appeared in such films as "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," "Batman," "The Fifth Element," "Alien 3," and Franco Zeffirelli's "Hamlet."

Marcus Gorman is the editor of the film blog Ten Years Ago: Films in Retrospective and the author of the novel "triceratops."


About the Author

Marcus Gorman is a pop culture writer and the author of the novel triceratops.
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