Slow Horses – Season 1 Episode 3 “Bad Tradecraft” Recap & Review

Bad Tradecraft

Episode 3 of Slow Horses begin with the news reporting on the recent Sons of Albion attack. Of course, our MI5 rejects are watching on, itching to get involved. Louise and Min end up drinking at a bar together, but that drinking turns into kissing as they stumble into Slough House. However, footsteps from above distract them as it seems like someone is inside Lamb’s office.

The pair head upstairs and are eventually blindsided by a hooded thug. After tumbling down the stairs, Louise takes off his mask to reveal… Jed Moody. He’s also very much dead too, with no pulse.

Meanwhile, Cartwright is saved from his predicament by Lamb, who shows up at the hospital and takes him outside. Lamb is not happy about Cartwright calling in Sid’s gunshot wound, and goes on to berate him over his “walkabout” in the ambulance. Right now Sid’s condition is unclear, beyond that she might live.

When Lamb and Cartwright do leave, MI5 show up and feed back that the pair are gone. In the car though, Cartwright confronts Lamb about him hiring Sid to watch his work. Lamb bites back and asks about the thug who attacked Sid.

Now, River Cartwright deduces that the man never spoke which could well hint that the attack was staged to make it seem like he was part of the Sons of Albion. And it worked too, given we know that Jed Moody was the attacker.

Naturally, the pair make it back to Slough House. There, they check over Moody’s body. Lamb finds the bug originally planted in his office, along with two mobiles, with one barely used. His sarcasm is wonderfully British here, as Lamb bites back against Cartwright’s quip and eventually meets Diana out by the canals. Diana pulls rank but Lamb reveals Moody’s dead, using the excuse that he forgot to tie his shoelaces.

It turns out Diana has actually set-up a big play to take down the Sons of Albion from the inside, with one of her agents working undercover. Unfortunately, Hobden overheard Diana’s big plan and wants Peter, the MP, to reveal everything. Apparently all of this is a false flag operation and the Sons of Albion aren’t actually going to behead Hassan.

That’s a hell of a gamble though and it also relies on a lot of different elements all coming together. One of those that neither the Sons of Albion or Diana were banking on was Hassan trying to escape. He’s heard trying to break open the boards in the basement and dragged upstairs just as he looked close to freedom (save for the vent above of course.)

In exchange for keeping all this a secret, Lamb wants the Standish file, Lamb’s guys covered so they don’t take the heat for Moody’s death and Moody’s body dealt with. Diana agrees.

Hobden heads over to see Peter in the middle of the night, revealing what he knows and pleading with Peter to help out and blow this operation wide open. Instead, he gets a fist to the face and told to leave. However, in his absence Peter does make a call. But to who?

Lamb head back to see the Slough crew and rounds them up, deciding they should save Hassan from his fate – as agreed with Diana. Over with the Sons of Albion, Curly (one of the more erratic members of the group) starts to lose his composure. He’s told to settle down and after questioning one of his own men, swings the axe… at Diana’s undercover man. That was definitely not part of the plan!

When Lamb and the team show up, they find the Sons of Albion – and by extension Hassan – gone… and their undercover man’s head cut clean off. Uh oh.

The Episode Review

Slow Horses returns this week with another solid episode, this time ramping up the tension as more of the truth is revealed. It turns out the whole operation with the Sons of Albion was actually one big risky undercover job. Sadly, that also has the knock-on effect of Curly losing control and killing the mole in this whole operation. This will almost certainly backfire on all involved now, with Diana likely to get a lot of heat for this incident. It also leaves everything resting precariously on a knife-edge for next week’s episode.

There’s definitely an air of familiarity with this show, and the story does feel quite run of the mill to other British crime dramas. However, this is still a solid show nonetheless and the ending leaves the door wide open for where next week’s follow-up may go.

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6 thoughts on “Slow Horses – Season 1 Episode 3 “Bad Tradecraft” Recap & Review”

  1. Hello. You say Cartwright was rescued from his predicament, but don’t explain said predicament. I went back and watched the end of ep. 2 and the beginning of ep. 3, and there’s no scene of Cartwright being put in that closet. Seemed a little sloppy to me, and the explanation later didn’t really clear it up much.

  2. Thanks for the feedback William, I do apologize for the confusion, I do tend to interchange the use of River and Cartwright in these recaps. However, I have gone through and changed some of those. Really appreciate the heads up!

    -Greg W

  3. It would actually help a lot if you were consistent in your usage of names.
    First Cartwright (three times) then River, then back to Cartwright again.

  4. @Dan, you’re absolutely right. I noticed there were two instances where I wrote Anarchy rather than Albion, my apologies! That should now have been corrected.

    @Jim – I just finished watching the show earlier (critics have been given the whole show early) and I definitely enjoyed it. I’ve just added Slow Horses to my Amazon wishlist so will for sure give it a read. Thanks for the suggestion!

    -Greg W

  5. Do read the book Slow Horses before watching it on TV. It’s an “anti-Bond” masterpiece – and the film is captivating too. Raw noir espionage of this quality is rare, whether or not accompanied by occasional splashes of hilarity. Slow Horses is an “anti-Bond” classic from the same genre of thoroughbred stables as the fictional Harry Palmer, Carter or Cole, based on Len Deighton’s spy novels or the fact based Edward Burlington, the protagonist in The Burlington Files espionage series by Bill Fairclough. If you enjoyed any of these you should delight in Slow Horses and vice versa.

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