The Secret Agent: 1.03

Vicky McClure does quiet fury so well, and she has much to be furious about. Her snivelling husband is finally forced to come clean, to reveal his part in her brother's demise. But even here, he shrouds his deeper involvements and tried to pass the buck rather than truly being honest and making a reversal. And then, he eats; still able to eat despite his betrayals. This is Vicky McClure's moment, in this quiet, furious grief she outshines the rest of the cast.
Verloc continues to lower our opinion of him, which is quite a feat by this point. Even the police manage to get their house in order while Verloc's crumbles around him. None of this is Toby Jones' fault, he performs the role excellently, really throwing himself into it, embracing it. But they both perform the roles so well, and Verloc is so reprehensible, that we applaud his fate and feel satisfied by it. Winnie did indeed finally become an agent of change.

The rest of the episode really is mop-up, all the powers that be scrambling to make a bad situation work for them politically. Everyone's trying to cover themselves, to get the best outcome for their political or career agendas or pride. What remains, for political advantage, is The Professor, the zealot who provided the bomb, and with relish. A character which, incidentally, inspired the Unabomber. The Secret Agent was his favourite novel, The Professor a template for his personality.

The series as a whole had its highpoints: The setting and acting especially. But rather than use the themes of the novel of a bloated political state, of people and agencies and governments using innocents, churning them through a machine for their own ends., the BBC's adaptation seems adrift. It wants to say things about false flag operations, about terrorism, about machinations, but never quite commits, pulls back from the edge, probably for fear of offending. Sadly, it means the end result, while solid, is sadly forgettable.

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