Slow Horses (Season 1) Episode 6: Recap, Ending Explained & Complete Season Review

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Slow Horses (Season 1), Episode 6 Recap and Ending Explained: Episode 6 of “Slow Horses” Season 1, titled “Follies”, is easily the longest episode of the season. But its structure matches the earlier episodes, which helps it to keep the consistently fast-paced tone of the show as it reaches a memorable and yet completely inevitable conclusion. But unlike other series that ends with a cliffhanger, this season has a complete story from beginning to end, with the promise of a next season with a new storyline.

Before we get into the latest episode, have a look at the recap of Episodes 4

Slow Horses (Season 1), Episode 6 “Follies” Recap

Taverner and Peter Judd try to cover their bases

Politician Peter Judd is awoken in the dead of the night by his security, informing him that Diana Taverner is waiting for him down in his kitchen. Outside Judd’s apartment, Lamb and Cartwright are waiting in their car, Lamb fast asleep at the wheel. Inside Judd’s apartment, Diana interrogates him, revealing him to have met with Hobden earlier that night (Episode 3), and demands a satisfactory explanation to tie all the ends of this story together, from the sons of Albion to Peter Simmonds, to even Robert Hobden. Judd doesn’t budge and calls out Diana’s bluff. He knows full well that Taverner needs him, and that’s why they are even in his kitchen talking right now. Reluctantly, Diana asks him to contact his associates on the far right so that he can connect with the Sons of Albion, but Judd doesn’t back down. He reveals he knows about Diana’s flub at the Frontline Club, which Hobden had overheard, and suggests a better, viable option beneficial to both of them: getting Robert Hobden out of the picture.

Slow Horses Episode 6

The Slow Horses regroup

In the previous episode, the group consisting of Standish, Louisa, Min, and Roddy had been huddled in a cafe where Roddy, with ideas from the rest of the three, had managed to trace where the van had been hired from via one of Alan Black’s old IDs. Standish rings up their office and asks for the van’s registration number, with which they manage to track the van’s GPS. Now, they finally get a ping at the petrol station where the van had last stopped for refuelling, so Louisa and Min head over there, while Ho and Standish meet up with Lamb and Cartwright, courtesy of Ho installing a tracker in everyone’s car. In his usual grumpy sarcasm, Lamb tells Ho to put the tracker back, as it might come in handy when the car is stolen. After telling Diana where the car is headed, Lamb and Cartwright drive away, while Standish and Ho walk back towards Slough House, not before Standish and Diana have some choice words with each other regarding Standish’s old boss, Charles Partner. While Diana refuses to give Standish any more details, taunting her that she might have gone back to Regent Park if she had cooperated, Standish calmly fires back, asking her why she should.

Catching Up to the Van

Meanwhile, among the kidnappers, Zeppo’s dead body is still slumped along with the seat, his brains blown off in the previous episode by Curly, but now Larry is driving the van with Curly behind him, holding him at gunpoint. Curly plans to execute Hassan near one of the old ruined Norman castles in the countryside, after which they would escape by boat. Larry protests, which is shot down by Curly, threatening to kill him, but now Hassan has regained his courage, firing back at Curly and poking holes in his intentions left and right.

Meanwhile, Louisa and Min stop at the petrol station and, confirming that they had headed east, start following the route, only to stop the car a few miles later because Min had forgotten to refuel his car. His mind was distracted by thinking about Louisa and how it’s been a while since someone had watched his back. Louisa, despite being irritated by their current predicament, is touched.

Back at Lamb’s car, Cartwright is on the phone with Roddy, trying to pinpoint the van’s exact location. When Cartwright tries asking about Sid’s condition, Lamb disconnects the call. In a rare move of emotional honesty by Lamb, he reveals to Cartwright that Sid is dead, and to survive in this business, Cartwright needs to get used to the presence of death haunting him. Having been a veteran spy during the cold war, Lamb had become accustomed to the idea of death by the time he was Cartwright’s age, as he had already lost a dozen associates. He also reassures Cartwright that he wouldn’t forget Sid, suggesting that Lamb hadn’t forgotten anyone he had lost.

The kidnappers stop the van at a lay-by, dump Zeppo’s body there, and start walking towards the castle, Hassan and Larry at the front, with Curly bringing up the rear. Hassan tries and succeeds in convincing Larry that Curly’s erratic nature is going to get them both killed, with Larry immediately after Hassan. Larry, understanding the decision he must take, distracts Curly and forces Hassan to run in the opposite direction, while Larry heads towards the van after managing to hit Curly in the back of the head. As Larry runs, Curly manages to get a shot in, wounding him. Hassan runs deeper into the forest and hides behind a tree, panting in relief, only to be caught by Curly and held at gunpoint.

Lamb and Cartwright pass Louisa and Min, stranded in the middle of the road, but they don’t stop, driving past them and moving towards the port where the van is supposed to go. Larry reaches for the van and runs towards the boat, only to be surrounded by MI5 agents and held at gunpoint by the dogs. Bending down on his knees, he attempts to reach for his wound where he was shot by Curly, which is mistaken by Duffy, who is on the helicopter looking down at the scene, as he reaches for the gun. Without hesitation, Duffy orders the dogs to fire, which results in their killing Larry. Roddy overhears the news about Larry being killed and the van empty and informs Lamb about the van stopping at a lane some miles back, which forces Lamb to turn the car around, picking up Louisa and Min on the way.

Rescuing Hassan

As Hassan and Curly reach the castle, Hassan realises that the “castle” is a folly, a costly mock-up of an old-timey building, or as Hassan calls it, a “fake,” which shatters Curly’s already strained bravado. Turning a Handycam on, Curly instructs Hassan to bend down on his knees while he swipes his head off, after which Curly kills himself. As Hassan asks why he is doing this, Curly angrily exclaims that this is about searching for something to believe in bigger than yourself, to bring the old England back. Hassan compares Curly to suicide bombers, to which Curly shoots him in the shoulder. Before he can complete the deed, Cartwright shows up. A shootout ensues, which ends with Hassan throwing a stone at a distracted Curly and cracking his head open. Hassan, in anger, takes the axe and prepares to drive it down on Curly, but Cartwright manages to dissuade him. Tying Curly down, Cartwright looks up to see Louisa and Min entering the entrance of the folly, as Duffy’s helicopter looms overhead.

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Back at Regent Park, Diana’s boss, the first lady, is with her, looking at the incident currently occurring at the folly. Diana orders Duffy to take Curly out. Hassan, realising what’s about to happen, informs Cartwright that Curly must stand trial. All the Slow Horses gather around Curly, obscuring the clear line of sight for the soldier to take the shot. This ensures that Curly must face justice, instead of Regent Park covering this incident up and their follies. Back at Regent Park, the first lady demands an explanation for the Slow Horses’ actions. As Diana reassures her that all loose ends would be tied up, and Alan Black’s records were wiped clean, the First Lady warns her to see this incident to its bitter end, as this is Diana’s mess to clean up.

Tying Up Loose Ends

Back at Slough House, the Slow Horses are congratulating themselves on a job well done, while Lamb throws cold water on their celebrations, pointing out that technically they weren’t responsible for any of the big events that led to the success of the day. Having sufficiently pulled their legs, Lamb orders them to get back to work, or, since it is Saturday, to leave him at peace.

Roddy had researched Sid and informed Cartwright that Sidoine Baker was an alias and no records of her existed. So Lamb was telling the truth, from a certain point of view, and it appears that she might be alive, but has ditched this alias. Elsewhere, Robert Hobden is walking down the footpath by himself, talking with news outlets to get some screen-time, when he is pushed to the road and run down by a garbage truck, as we see Duffy hurriedly walking away.

Diana and Lamb meet outside, where Diana informs Lamb that Alan Black’s name had been kept out of the press, and to answer Lamb’s niggling doubts about Hassan knowing any pertinent details, Diana had paid off his student debt and his comedy club would receive a large anonymous donation. Lamb is miffed that Diana had managed to tie all these loose ends up and come out as the hero at the end of the day, but he can’t begrudge her too much as he finally receives the Standish file, knowing full well that Diana had made a copy of it for insurance, and he has copies of the incriminating photos of her as well. The strange game of espionage is still alive, just currently at an impasse.

Slow Horses Season 1 Finale (Episode 6) Ending Explained: 

At night, Lamb opens the file and starts poring over the details when Catherine finally enters, demanding answers. Lamb finally admits that he had given the gun to Charles, which had led to Charles’ committing suicide in the bathtub. Lamb had asked to be transferred to Slough House so that he could stay here until his time ran out, without hurting anyone else.

Meanwhile, at his grandfather’s place, Cartwright is miffed that his actions regarding Hassan’s kidnapping weren’t enough to warrant a return to Regent Park. His grandfather pragmatically reminds him that the London Way is to cover your tracks, and Diana Taverner had done that while simultaneously backstabbing River. His grandfather reassures River to keep his head down, wait out a few more months, and then the procedure for his return to Slough House can be initiated. He reminds his grandson that all the best spies had their time in the cold and came back. Smiley was the master of that. Back-to-back John Le Carre references are also a wink and a nod to the audience, as Gary Oldman, who plays Lamb, also played arguably the best Smiley in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

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As Lamb lights a cigarette and closes his eyes, we see the real events of the night of Charles Partner’s death. We see him getting into the bathtub, ready to take a bath and relax when he is suddenly accosted by a gloved hand, who submerges his head underwater. Making Partner dazed, the hand finally inserts a gun straight down Partner’s mouth and shoots him. The hand, now revealed to be Lamb’s, inserts the gun in Partner’s hand, making the incident look like a suicide, and walks out of the house, crosses the road, and enters into a car, which is revealed to be driven by David Cartwright, Peter’s grandfather. Lamb strongly hints at him resigning from active service, while Cartwright asks whether the secret would come out, as MI5 is good at their job. Lamb scathingly fires back at him, wishing that they wouldn’t find out for his sake. This reveals the relationship David Cartwright has with Lamb and also strongly hints at why Lamb would take River under his wing.

Slow Horses (Season 1) Review: 

Like the opening credits song crooned by Mick Jagger states, it is a strange game, and as James Hawes directed and Will Smith’s written show exhibits, Slow Horses has a strange game running in the narrative, crafting itself to be a strange beast. Slow Horses is a unique mix of serious spy games and espionage stuff with ample amounts of laugh-out-loud moments due to the droll British humour. It is one of Apple TV +’s unique offerings.

Part of the reason why the show works so well is the performances. While Gary Oldman is having a ball playing the acerbic and prickly Jackson Lamb, with some of the more quotable lines from memory, Kristin Scott Thomas’ Diana Taverner is a very suave and clever antagonist, matching Lamb’s banter with the same amount of verve.

However, the show does manage to utilise plot contrivances to the extent of making MI5 look almost as dumb as the terrorist organisation Sons of Albion. While the politics in the show were expected to play a much larger role, it only becomes a part of the plot, and that too is a very ancillary part, a far cry from the book’s dealing with its politics. However, what works to the show’s credit is the pace, which moves much quicker as soon as the inciting incident occurs at the end of episode 1. While Episode 4 mostly follows the kidnapper in a van, The cat and mouse nature of the story harkens back to a form of the story more akin to a pulpy spy thriller, even if it is unmistakably inspired by the Le Carre school of spy thrillers.

Slow Horses works because this is the kind of adaptation that works perfectly in a close-contained serialised format, and also because a well-made spy thriller is still a rarity in the modern entertainment sphere. It is thus a breath of fresh air, and the overall solid acting, the twists and turns in the storytelling ensure that it is a quick binge. A must-watch for fans of the spy genre.


Amartya Acharya

A cinephile who is slowly and steadily exploring the horizons of the literature of films and pop culture. Loves reading books and comics. He loves listening to podcasts while obsessing about the continuity in comics.