Kim absorbs the death of Iris and possibly the end of CIA operations in Moscow in silence as episode 5 of A Spy Among Friends begins.
James hears static on the radio and wonders about the complete silence. Nick reveals he let Kim escape. He could have stopped him but in those exigent circumstances, he considered himself above the law. SIS officers belong to a higher order.
Of course, the next scene confirms that this is what Nick suggests Lily tell Sir Roger to draw him out. It is a ploy to expose his Russian allegiance. Sir Roger mentions that Elliot knows about blunt but Lily pleads innocence. They believe her for now but one never knows when the tide turns.
The reaction of Sir Roger and the others gives the impression that this act will be soon found out. Or already has been. Nick says it is time they use James to their advantage. Orchis sits beside Iris’ dead body in jail. He too is taken away and shot from the back.
We go back to the time when Kim’s mother died. He was close to her, as he revealed to Sergei in the last episode. James came for the funeral and accompanied Nick on the night with a grieving Kim. The three go out for drinks. Jane Sissmore says she recommended Lily’s name to debrief Nick.
She suspects Lily is hiding something. And that’s why Roger is taking her off the case. It also means the case is closed on the books but unofficially, it is still open. Nick informs James of the news from Moscow. He is shocked and dumbstruck for words. Nick once again mentions that Kim is a double agent for the Russians and had all his friends fooled. He asks James to cover his tracks in Moscow and leave for Washington that very day. Nick remains silent when James asks what he’s doing to redeem himself.
James is furious and burns everything. Kim sits with Galina watching television. Arthur Martin shows up at Nick’s office and informs him of the developments. He asks about Blunt but Nick wants to break the ice first. Martin is insistent and Nick tells him the truth about what he knows. He says the SIS will soon be tasked with interrogating Blunt and Martin retaliates by saying Nick is to stay away from Blunt.
Nick reminds Martin that it was he who missed Blunt in an investigation about 10 years ago when SIS gave MI5 an indication they had a Russian agent in their stead.
James and his mate leave their Westminster apartment and a car follows them. Nick takes out the bugs from the house. Blunt is being followed by MI5 agents. While Elizabeth and Nick are having sex, he is informed that James did not board the aeroplane and drove further north to someplace.
Kim writes a letter for Nick, apologizing for his actions and realizing his desperate predicament. Two men pick up Blunt from the restaurant but the MI5 agents aren’t able to catch up.
They call Lily who then calls Nick. A drunk Kim keeps his engagement ring in the medallion box and takes off while Galina is sleeping. He remembers pieces of conversation from Beirut when Nick called him a coward and fool for choosing Marxism over his family. Another Russian drunk offers him more alcohol and tries to rob Kim. The men who had kidnapped Blunt were the Americans. Nick goes with Desmond to meet James. They reach the location.
Nick tries to explain to James that this isn’t the way to save himself. He must get to Washington and leave blunt to Nick. James accepts Nick’s proposal. Nick brings Blunt to Lily. They confirm Blunt’s treason from him.
Nick asks what instructions he got from the Russians if his cover was blown. But Anthony denies any communication with them after ’45. They press harder and Blunt reveals that his instructions were to go to Roger and that he might be of help. It was Kim who told Anthony to do so.
Kim is admitted to the hospital and remembers the physical tussle he had with Nick in Beirut in a similar drunken state. Nick finds Roger at his house. It is quite possible that Roger was meant to be only a red herring by Kim. The head of MI5 might not be involved with the Russians after all. But why would Kim do it? Perhaps the finale will have an answer for us.
The Episode Review
There was some legitimate tension infused into the narrative in this episode. It felt like a huge unwinding of emotions from James Angleton. He was left reeling by the revelation of Iris and Orchis’ deaths but more importantly, his failure as a spy.
James was so easily fooled by Kim, not because of gaps in his training but his own desperation. It was his humanity that ensured he was taken advantage of and made a fool of in his professional realm.
Most of Kim’s life will now go into explaining to the Russians his loyalty. It seems Nick sent him into a big hole dug so deep that Kim is helpless. Blunt’s defection might also bring out Roger’s, which is the central focus going into the finale. There is yet a lot to be unpacked and we might finally get answers about Beirut.
You can read our full season review for A Spy Among Friends here!