'Mi-5,' Episode Thirty-Six Recap: 'Diana'

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Previously on Mi-5

British and American intelligence butt heads over what to do with a suspected terrorist living in the U.K., leading to Harry's (Peter Firth) temporary dismissal from Mi-5. For more, read our full episode recap here.

This Week's Episode: "Diana"

Written by: Howard Brenton
Directed by: Julian Simpson

Ruth (Nicola Walker) returns home and finds that she isn't alone. Sitting in the darkness is Angela Wells (Lindsay Duncan), a former Mi-5 agent, and she has a bone to pick. A year ago, her lover and Ruth's stepbrother Peter committed suicide. Once a member of the Royal Protection Unit, Peter's alcoholism led to his firing and subsequent depression. But Angela has another story: Peter was fired because he uncovered proof of a terrible plot: Princess Diana's death was not an accident. She was assassinated by the British security services. Angela hands over a top secret microfilm which reads "Assassination of PD." Signed in 1997 by none other than Harry Pearce. Ruth promises she'll look into it, but this could be the ravings of a madwoman for all she knows.

The following morning, National Security Coordinator Juliet Shaw (Anna Chancellor) brings Angela by headquarters for a visit, where she is lauded by the agents as a legend in her field. After exchanged pleasantries, Angela makes an about-face and pulls out a trigger. She has brought five ounces of Concentrate 34 in her purse, a plastic explosive that would kill everybody at Mi-5 and destroy Thames House. Her demands for Harry? Shut down all communication, admit his role in the Diana assassination plot (under an apparently nonexistent group called the Contingent Events Committee), and give the info to the press.

While Colin (Rory MacGregor) and Malcolm (Hugh Simon) attempt to disarm the explosives, Jo (Miranda Raison) must stay in the conference room with Angela and try to withstand her mind games while they wait for the security protocol files Angela demanded. Jo is still new to the agency, though, and has had a great deal of trouble separating her emotions from her occupation, and Angela psychologically breaks her down.

In another room, Ruth admits to Adam (Rupert Penry-Jones) that Angela made a visit to her the night before. Not only that, but Angela is starting to make sense, pointing to a page in Harry's schedule from 1997 that indicated a long secret meeting, missing the written details that defines the rest of Harry's diary. Zaf (Raza Jaffrey) chimes in, and it becomes apparent he is a student of conspiracy theories, able to rail off several about Diana's death with panache. Perhaps while they look for the truth, they should feed Angela one of the theories, which shows incontrovertible proof that the British government lied about having agents in Paris at the time of Diana's death and that driver Henri Paul's Blood Alcohol Content test was fixed. "If we have to," Adam says, "that's the story we're giving."

It seems like they won't have to, however, as Ruth goes through the computer files and finds traces of the Contingent Events Committee, finding that while it once existed, all actual documentation has been wiped from the records. Could Harry truly have planned Diana's death? Bringing all the evidence before him, he admits that the British government had to do something. "The woman was unstable," he tells them. "There were fears she was being manipulated by undesirable influences. She was causing untold damage to the very central pillar of the British state, the Royal Family itself. It was felt if an accident could be arranged, there would be outpourings of grief which would, paradoxically, unite the nation. We were right in that." But then Harry pulls a 180. Of course the British government didn't actually murder Diana. The Contingent Events Committee was created in order to consider worst-case scenarios and prevent them, and the plot that Peter and Angela stumbled onto was one of many the Committee considered. So why eliminate the Committee and its findings from the records? They had predicted Diana's eventual death so accurately, right down to the car crash, that there was no choice. It would destroy Mi-5.

So how to talk Angela down? Use Zaf's "disintegrating bullet" conspiracy and hope that she calms down. But this turns out to be all for naught, as Ruth uses a psychological angle on Angela, going so far as to lie and insinuate that she and stepbrother Peter were having a sexual affair. As Angela breaks down, Ruth reveals the truth about the Committee. Distraught, Angela presses the trigger, but nothing happens. There was no mechanism in the explosives-filled purse she had brought.

After much discussion and argument, Harry and Adam decide that the best course of action is to follow a sort-of spy code, treating Angela as "a victim in the field." This means that they set Angela free on the basis that she was suffering psychological trauma, something that befalls many agents during high-stress operations. And as she has saved many lives on her own accord over the years, no harm no foul. But upon Angela's leave, Ruth notices that a document is missing, one on new security measures at Buckingham Palace. This entire hostage situation was all a ruse, and Angela's target has always been the Royal Family. Calling a Double-A National Alert, Harry has the Royal Protection Service move the Royal Family to Pegasus, a protection bunker.

At the bunker, Mi-5 finds that, once again, they'd been had, discovering that Angela had been working there for seven months as an electrician, secretly planting more explosives in the wall. With a minute left on the countdown clock, Malcolm tentatively cuts a wire, and the bomb is disarmed. Foiled once again, Angela.

On their way back to headquarters, Harry and Adam wonder how they could have missed all the signs. How good are they if the Royal Family came this close to being blown into bits? Exiting their car, gunshots suddenly ring out. Despite running for cover, Adam takes a gruesome hit. Collapsed onto the ground, Harry looks up and across the street, where he meets eyes with the sniper rifle-toting Angela.

To be continued...

Hey! I Know That Actor!

Lindsay Duncan, who plays ex-agent Angela Wells, is an Olivier- and Tony-winning actress from Scotland. While a mainstay of British television ("Travelling Man," "Traffik," "G.B.H.," "Oliver Twist"), American audiences likely know her best from such films as "Prick Up Your Ears," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Mansfield Park," "Alice in Wonderland," and the HBO series "Rome."

About the Author

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