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Previously on "Mi-5"
An imprisoned former Member of Parliament has written a scathing memoir that could ultimately destroy the British government, and Mi-5 ensuing struggle causing a rift between them and secret service agency Mi-6.
This Week's Episode: "Lesser of Two Evils"
In order to regain the trust of his girlfriend Ellie (Esther Hall), Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) has Danny (David Oyelowo) and his team install Fort Knox-levels amount of security at Tom's flat. Tom visits Ellie and her young daughter Maisie (Heather Cave), hands them a keycard, and begs them to come back to his more-than-safe home, convincing them that no danger will ever come to them.
Meanwhile, figurative alarms go off at Mi-5 when the section commander of a dangerous Irish splinter republican group contacts them. This man is Patrick McCann (Lorcan Cranitch), "personally responsible for the torture and murder of over 20 RUC policemen and two Security Service operatives in the late '70s," and he has a deal: In exchange for information about an impending attack by Sudanese ultra-extremist cell Asabiyah, he wants Mi-5 to turn a blind eye to McCann's activity for two whole days. No surveillance, no interference, nothing. Harry (Peter Firth) refuses the deal, but Tom decides to get the go-ahead from the Harry's superior, the District General (Henry Goodman).
As Danny and Zoe (Keeley Hawes) learn more about the weaponry that may be used to attack nuclear power station Sefton B, Harry comes in with word that McCann and his splinter group have designed their own attack on Broad Street Railway Station the following morning, planning on using five pounds of Semtex to blow the station sky high during rush hour. As the team scrambles to figure out what to do, Harry tells them a terrible story: While investigating the IRA in 1978, Harry saw his best mate Bill Crombie succumb to a violent, fiery death at the hands of none other than McCann.
Tom is trapped between a rock and a hard place, as stopping the Irish attack on the railway station would kill the deal he has with McCann. And thus, Tom puts a risky plan into motion. First, he gets Zoe to write up a fake report every hour to throw Harry off the scent. Second, have Danny call in a roof collapse at the railway station, which in turn would force the station to be evacuated and stop all trains from even getting close to the bomb site. Right on time, the bomb goes off, but causes exactly zero casualties.
A frazzled Zoe comes to Harry and reveals what we learned two episodes ago: Fellow agent Tessa (Jenny Agutter) has been running phantom agents in order to pull in more government cash, and that "anything she brings to the table from her agents, well, we can't know if it's the truth."
Tom goes to meet with McCann, only to be incapacitated and apprehended by McCann's goons. All seems lost, but McCann admits that, regardless of Mi-5's interference, Asabiyah's attack is as dangerous for his people as it is for Britain. Ergo, McCann still follows up on his promise and hands Tom a hard drive containing all of the Asabiyah information. With this new knowledge, the team quickly deduces the three places at Sefton B the Asabiyah terrorists will likely strike. Within a matter of minutes, the terrorists are killed, the attack never comes to pass, and Mi-5 wins.
Amidst the rejoicing, Harry brings Tessa in, scolds her for her phantom agent scheme, and tells her that he's going to "throw [her] to the wolves." But Tessa has a trick up her sleeve. She has irrefutable evidence that Harry could have easily stopped his friend's murder back in 1978, and that it was his cowardice that ultimately caused Crombie's death. If Harry tells Tessa's secret, she'll tell his. For now, both secrets remain just that.
Tom returns home to a happy Ellie and Maisie, locks a laptop in his desk, then goes outside to take one final call from McCann. It seems that without McCann's knowledge, some of the members of the Irish splinter group had put C4 in the laptop with the intention of it going off at Mi-5. Tom tries to get back into his flat, but the keycard no longer works, as young Maisie obliviously covered the keycard in chocolate while she and her mother were baking. Tom calls and get Ellie to very carefully take apart the laptop with hopes of disarming it. With Ellie and Maisie trapped in the flat, the countdown clock inside the laptop ticks away with less than two minutes to go. A distraught Tom watches through the window as the two loves of his life comfort each other, waiting for the inevitable.
Hey! I Know That Actor!
Peter Firth, who plays Mi-5 section boss Harry Pearce, is a star of stage and screen, most notable for his performance as the troubled young teenagers obsessed with horses in not only the original London and Broadway productions of "Equus," but also the 1977 film version, earning him Tony, Oscar, and Golden Globe nominations.
David Oyelowo, who plays Junior Case Officer Danny Hunter, was a Royal Shakespeare Company member starting in 1999, but American audiences might know him better from his film work in such movies as Kenneth Branagh's "As You Like It," Kevin Macdonald's "The Last King of Scotland," Rupert Wyatt's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," and Tate Taylor's smash adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's "The Help." He can be seen this fall as Yardley Acheman in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln."
Marcus Gorman is the editor of the film blog Ten Years Ago: Films in Retrospective and the author of the upcoming novel "triceratops."