From Upshott with Love
When Slow Horses dropped on AppleTV earlier this year, it instantly stood out as one of the streamer’s better offerings. In a turbulent year that’s seen as many highs (Pachinko) as there have been lows (Suspicion and Gutsy to name a few) Slow Horses is, thankfully, one of the more stable and consistently quality offerings on the network.
Slow Horses is far from perfect and it does have some narrative wobbles (as noted in the first season) but it’s a solid offering all the same. And this second time around, the show feels much more assured in the way it tells its story and presents its ideas.
Split across 6 episodes, season 2 adapts the second novel in the Slow Horses series, Dead Lions, and centers on sleeper Russian agents called Cicadas who are embedded in British society. When a former agent called Richard Bough is found dead on a bus after suffering a heart attack, the word “Cicada” written on his phone, Jackson Lamb brings his team together to find out exactly what’s going on.
As the story develops, several different players come into view across various subplots that weave their way into the main narrative. Min and Louisa are off working security detail for an upcoming meeting between several Russians, while River is tasked with an undercover operation to try and sift out a sleeper agent in wait, heading to the sleepy village of Upshott. Back in London however, Catherine and Lamb have issues of their own to contend with.
The plot isn’t outright action-packed or full of thrilling chases but what it lacks in those areas, it makes up for with some pretty tense sequences and a couple of neat twists. However, there are a couple of contrivances that crop up, while the ending is a bit abrupt. Furthermore, players like Roddy Ho and Shirley are unfortunately under-utilized despite having some of the interesting parts of the story to contend with.
What’s immediately noticeable this time is that balance between dark humour and more suspenseful sequences. There are some genuinely funny moments on occasion, with one scene switching on a dime from sombre and heartfelt to outright funny from a single line of dialogue. There’s also an amusing recurring joke involving Jackson Lamb eating different food in each scene he’s in after it’s outright referenced in episode 1 how sloppily he eats noodles.
With all that in mind, Slow Horses is an enjoyable and solid follow-up, one that’s well worth checking out if you were a fan of season 1. The better balance between humour and drama certainly feels like a step up, although a couple of narrative issues hold this back from being a better offering. You cannot fault the effort here though, as Slow Horses continues to prove why it’s one of Apple’s most solid offerings.
Slow Horses season 2 releases on Friday 2nd December exclusively on AppleTV+, dropping weekly through to the end of the year!
Verdict - 7/10