Episode 1 of Slow Horses Season 2 starts with a man named Richard Bough heading out in the middle of the day, spooled by the appearance of someone familiar walking past his shop. Following the bald man all the way to the train station and onboard a bus, Bough sends a message and stuffs the phone down the side of the seats. Unfortunately, he collapses and passes out.
As we soon find out, Bough is actually a retired field agent, kicked out just before the Berlin Wall fell, and it seems he had a heart attack. Jackson Lamb is, inevitably, all over this and it gives the Slow Horses a new case to work on. Lamb uses his wits to get aboard the bus, posing as Bough’s brother and finding the phone. It seems there’s a message left behind. It reads “Cicada.”
Now, Cicadas are actually sleeper agents embedded in British society. They’re named as such because they spent years underground before eventually hatching. Dickie Bough was an agent assigned to go after the puppet master for these spies, a man named Alexander Popov.
Although the British concluded that the man was a fake, when Dickie ended up going AWOL before the Berlin Wall fell, coming back blind drunk and claiming brandy was poured down this throat after being abducted and taken by Popov. They immediately believed that it was him off on a bender and disgracing the agency – fired as a result – but it could be there’s more going on here than meets the eye
River is off for a job interview but things don’t go to plan when they ask about Jackson Lamb. At the same time, Min and Louisa organize another job, away from Slough House and working for Webb on a security detail ready for a big meeting with Russians.
At Slough House, the group gather together and cycle through the CCTV footage, attempting to find what’s happened. They immediately suss out that the bald man Bough was following and intend to try and grab the hard drives for the footage on te trains to learn more.
Lamb is clever though and he knows about River’s job interview. There are some tensions between them – and a fair amount of banter – but as for River, he’s still haunted by the ghosts of the past. When River tells his father about the Richard Bough case, he ends up getting spooked and heads off for a drink, claiming he’s shocked that the man was still alive. It’s clear there’s more going on here than first meets the eye, and River senses as much from his father.
Shirley manages to break into the datacenter and grab the files, after a rather quick getaway. The footage shows Bough on the train and it appears that bald man touched his arm before they exited the carriage. It could well be that he was poisoned, as the CCTV shows him rubbing his arm after he got off the train.
River confirms as much to Lamb, who’s still not pleased that River is off trying to get another job. However, they have a solid lead to go on and it would appear that whatever’s happening here, the cicadas may not be a myth and could have been reactivated.
The Episode Review
Slow Horses is back, and one of AppleTV’s better series earlier this year returns with another intriguing case. The opening is pretty good too, and recontextualizing that scene through the investigative work after is a nice way of getting us invested in the Cicada situation.
There are still tensions at Slough House but seeing the dynamics between the different characters is partly what makes this show so interesting. With River off on the case now, will they end up getting too close to this cicada situation? We’ll have to wait and see!