'Mi-5,' Episode One Recap: 'Thou Shalt Not Kill'

It's back, and now you can watch it from the beginning. Yes, "Mi-5,"the spy-centric BBC One series that's known in its native county as "Spooks," is starting again from the very beginning! We'll be recapping every episode, every twist, every betrayal and every out-of-nowhere character death here at KCET.org. Enjoy!

Written by: David Wolstencroft
Directed by: Bharat Nalluri

A phone call, a cryptic message of "Zone 1 Flash from Osprey," and a meeting in a secret apartment about matters of life and death. So begins the series of the BAFTA-winning "Mi-5", not with a whimper, but with one very terrible explosion. A car bomb has gone off in Allerton, Liverpool, taking the life of Dr. Karen Lynott (Karen Westwood) and causing serious, life-threatening injuries to her young daughter Sarah (Alexandra Robinson). But who is responsible, and why was Dr. Lynott targeted? These are the questions to which Junior Case Officer Danny Hunter (David Oyelowo) wants answers, and his contact Osprey (Kerry Rolfe), informs him that this bomb is but one of 20 explosives and detonators that have been brought into the United Kingdom. And now it's up to our heroes to stop the rest from going off.

Welcome to Military Intelligence, Section 5, also known as Mi-5. Deep inside London's Thames House, Mi-5 exists to "protect Britain's national security," and the goings-on inside are highly classified. After receiving individual wake-up calls about the explosion, Senior Case Officer Tom Quinn (Matthew Macfadyen) -- currently in a relationship with the beautiful single mother Ellie, who knows him as an IT tech named Matthew Archer -- and Junior Case Officer Zoe Reynolds (Keeley Hawes) race into the headquarters for debriefing. Alas, Harry Pearce (Peter Firth), the head of counter-terrorism department Section D, is unaware of how big the situation is, so while the team can start looking into their leads, Tom takes initiative and spins the story to the press, saying it was not an terrorist attack but the result of a previously unexploded World War II bomb.

At St. Mary's Hospital in Liverpool, Tom visits the ailing Sarah Lynott and learns the truth from Dr. Lynott's husband, Mike (Adam Kotz): Both Karen and Mike perform abortions, and knew that after receiving many death threats, it was only a matter of time before something terrible would happen. With this information, the team easily fingers a pro-life campaign as the culprits, headed up by American extremist Mary Kane (Lisa Eichhorn). Mary is the husband of an American man, Paul Kane, who is to be executed in a matter of days for the murder of a Florida-based abortion doctor, and she is taking this upcoming date as an opportunity to inflict the most amount of damage possible. Currently hiding out in Willaston, Wirral, we find Mary at her hideout, discussing her next target with fellow pro-lifers Rachel (Rachel Power), Rob (Paul Haigh), and Steven (Derek Riddell), members of the Defenders of the Innocent.

As the team gathers more information on Mary, such as the catalyst for her pro-life tendencies (when she was 15, she was admitted to a hospital for appendicitis and came out with a terminated pregnancy), they discover that 15 of the 20 explosives are not bombs but Semtex, a plastic explosive intended for demolition. Or as Tom puts it, "She's starting a war." The team decides to install surveillance equipment at the hideout, and they soon discover that Mary is having an affair with Steven, a vital bit of information they can use against her.

Just as the case is coming together, M-5 gets a call that throws them for a loop: The CIA, through their liaison Christine Dale (Megan Dodds), has demanded that, since Mi-5 knows exactly where Mary is, she should be put into custody immediately and extradited back to America. Unfortunately for Mi-5, they still need the locations of the remaining explosives, and sending Mary off to America would mean the end of their investigation.

Having been forced to work in fast-forward, the team sends Zoe undercover in order to earn the trust of pro-lifer Rachel. Making friends with Rachel at a local park by posing as a member of the Unborn Alliance, pretending to have a hospitalized friend who is eight months pregnant, Rachel follows her to the nearby hospital, where Tom is waiting in order to interrogate Rachel. The conversation doesn't seem to go well, but Tom hands Rachel his card and tells her to call when she gets a conscience. All part of a bigger plan, the surveillance team listens in as Rachel makes a worried call to the pro-lifers, and they learn that the next target is one Diane Sullivan in London.

After being further complicated by interference from Foreign Office, who wants to make nice with the Americans in order to push through a lucrative international pharmaceuticals deal , the case hits its boiling point when little Sarah succumbs to her injuries. Zoe once again goes undercover, this time as Mary's intended target. Unsure of how much explosive material Mary has at her disposal for this particular terrorist attack, the team (included the still-quite-inexperienced Danny) must work quickly to disarm Mary before she can strike. Jamming the signal for Mary's device (a mobile phone), the team finally apprehends Mary and takes her in. Using their knowledge that Mary is pregnant with Steven's child, and promising to keep her in the U.K. and away from death row, they guilt trip Mary into revealing the locations of the remaining explosives. But hoping to avoid a diplomatic incident, Mi-5 still hands her over to the CIA and Mary is sent back to Florida to await execution.

Hey! I Know That Actor!

Senior Case Officer Tom Quinn is played by Matthew Macfadyen, known for his performances as Mr. Darcy in Joe Wright's 2005 adaptation of "Pride & Prejudice" (costarring Keira Knightley), the Sheriff of Nottingham in Ridley Scott adaptation of "Robin Hood," Athos in 2011's "The Three Musketeers," and the original British version of "Death at a Funeral." Soon, you can catch him in the Joe Wright-directed, Tom Stoppard-scripted version of Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina," which has already opened in the U.K. and comes to the United States on November 16.

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

About the Author

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