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'Mi-5,' Episode Thirteen Recap: 'Clean Skin'


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

Previously on Mi-5

When President Bush makes last-minute plans to visit the UK, Mi-5 and the CIA butt heads over the security detail while Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) suffers the consequences of a bad break-up. For more, read the full episode recap here.

This Week's Episode: "Clean Skin"

Written by: Ciaran Donnelly
Directed by: Simon Mirren

The intrepid employees of Mi-5, Section D have a problem. Going off of Mi-6 intelligence, they have gotten word that a French former military scientist named Henri Durand has designed a new weapon called Firestorm, a missile which sends out a mile-wide electromagnetic pulse, shutting down all electronic equipment in its path. Durand has appeared in the UK hoping to sell the weapon, helped along by his backer, a middleweight arms dealer named Frank Hastings. Mi-5's task is to steal the program before it can be sold to the highest bidder. The sole copy of the program in existence can only be accessed by entering a series of access codes into Durand's computer, access codes that were handed over to Harry (Peter Firth) the night before. Making the operation ever so slightly more difficult, Mi-5 has a French government agent breathing down their neck, the handsome Jean-Luc Goyan (Philippe Caroit), meaning that they must find a "cleanskin" to do the operation, somebody who's never worked in a government agency before and cannot be traced back to them.

Everything collapses when the truth emerges: Harry is no longer in possession of the codes. But how did this happen?

Why, the codes in the possession of a group of young London hoodlums, who just that morning broke into Harry's well-protected house and made off with much of his electronic equipment and the contents of his safe, including the very important briefcase Mi-6 gave to Harry. Back at their apartment, two of the hoodlums - brainiac JJ Franks (Heshima Thompson) and his older brother Denton "D" Franks (Aaron Martins) - go through their haul when they stumble upon the dossiers. After looking through them and finding nothing of interest, they decide to burn the access codes and instead play with a cell phone they also find in the briefcase. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a spy gadget, more gun than phone, and one of the other hoodlums gets shot in the chest.

As Danny (David Oyelowo) joins Jean-Luc in doing surveillance outside Hastings' Defence Solutions, and Mi-5 does their best to keep him away from the phone taps he has requested, Harry finds a small pool of blood. They are able to trace the blood to JJ, who they find out has a perfect photographic memory, explaining how he was able to get into Harry's home in the first place. Bringing Tom along, Harry busts into JJ and D's apartment to find them in panic mode. Pointing out that JJ's fingerprints were on the phone-gun, meaning a life sentence for him if his wounded friend dies, they convince him to come down to HQ so he can put his special brain to work. Fact is, he is the only one who knows the access codes.

Section D learns from the Hastings wiretaps and a passenger manifest that the Chinese are interested in buying firestorm, so the clock is ticking. If this doesn't go as planned, Harry says, he will retire from the agency out of shame. Meanwhile, Danny and Ruth (Nicola Walker) begin to suspect that Jean-Luc isn't being completely honest with them. With some research, they find recent pictures of him with Richard Bertrand (Philippe De Grossouvre), who served under Jean-Luc in the Foreign Legion. Are the French planning to steal Firestorm for themselves?

In interrogation, Tom lets JJ know that his wounded friend is in stable condition, then proceeds to offer him an alternative to the troubled life of foster home and juvenile detention facilities he knows so well: Help Mi-5 get into Hastings' building and use the access codes to steal Firestorm, and he can have a clean slate, even work for the government agency if he so chooses. After they run him through a simulation of the mission, they're ready to use him as their "cleanskin."

With Tom, Colin (Rory MacGregor), and Zoe (Keeley Hawes) in a nearby surveillance van, they send JJ into Hastings Defence dressed as a handyman. With only five minutes to complete the operation, JJ has his work cut out for him, a task made even more difficult when surveillance suddenly goes out, probably evidence that there is another secret team on the premises. Still, JJ is able to make it into the control room and enter the codes. Before he can e-mails the Firestorm plans to Mi-5, Durand returns, so JJ grabs the laptop and hides. As Durand looks for his laptop, Bertrand appears, fruitlessly demands the location of the laptop, then fatally shoots Durand and escapes.

Back at headquarters, Harry berates Jean-Luc for giving the order to kill Durand, but as there is no evidence connecting him to the murder, they have nothing to put on him. "It's being reported as a burglary gone wrong," Tom says. Outside Mi-5, Tom finds JJ waiting for him with the laptop. Tom offers JJ a permanent job at Mi-5, but JJ refuses, wanting only $1,500 and the best medical care his friend can get.

Hey! I Know That Actor!

Heshima Thompson, who plays the genius hoodlum JJ, is an actor and singer who has appeared as a contestant on the UK versions of "The X Factor" and "The Voice."

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


About the Author

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