Slow Horses (Season 3) Episode 3: What absolutely surprises me regarding “Slow Horses” is how it simultaneously revels in taking the pants off its protagonists and also is in love with them just about enough that they get a minor redemption arc. Try as the protagonists might, they can never rise above their underdog status, even though they have enough capabilities to go beyond the strictures of the organization. What makes Jackson Lamb such a compelling protagonist is not just his slovenly nature and his humor, it’s his confidence, arising from decades-long experience.

Even if he understands that the difficulties currently being faced by MI5 and Slough House might be inextricable, he has enough confidence in himself and his knowledge of the intelligentsia that he can guide his team out. And unlike the book’s version of Lamb, this version of Lamb is emotionally open just enough that you can understand there is a genuine human being inside that inscrutable old horse of an agent.

Slow Horses (Season 3) Episode 3 Recap

Episode 3 – Negotiating with Tigers

The episode, however, opens not at MI5, but at Home Secretary Ashley Judd’s office, with the First Chair of MI5, Ingrid Tearney, meeting with Judd and handing over her resignation. It is revealed that the kidnapping of Catherine Standish and even River Cartwright breaking into MI5 had already been an elaborate ploy by Judd, whereby he had utilized a “Tiger Team” to check the defenses of MI5. The smug Home Secretary is now delighted at serving a dose of humble pie to the First Chair, to the extent that he tears up the resignation letter and even threatens to send a copy of that letter to Diana Taverner. According to Judd, he has, in not-so-uncertain terms, MI5’s balls in a vice.

It is the exact opposite, however, because the leader of the Tiger Team, Sean Donovan, chooses this moment to go off-script. He not only has his superior Sturges (Nick Blood) kidnapped by first shooting the tires of his car and then stuffing him inside the boot of the car, but also, as Catherine points out, takes her as a hostage for real. As both Shirley and Marcus break into Sean Donovan’s flat to figure out his motivations, they learn that the kidnapping of Catherine Standish is only Phase One of the plan.

Phase two, on the other hand, would comprise taking the “Grey Books,” documents stashed by MI5, detailing all the conspiracy theories imaginable. That not only puts Donovan squarely into the category of a “guy having a decidedly dangerous purpose against the wishes of his organization” but also slots this situation into an unmitigated PR disaster.

Jackson Lamb gets all the information about this from Shirley and tuts after having been stood up by Diana Taverner at their regular meeting place at the park. However, their resulting conversation leads to Lamb informing and Taverner relaising the current lay of the land. Fascinatingly, she also realizes the “Grey Books” are currently her responsibility, as she has been relegated to looking after the storage of MI5 documents. As for Lamb, though, it’s fascinating the relationship he shares with each member of Slough House differs.

Marcus and Shirley have an air of absolute disappointment towards the sheer amount of tomfoolery one could do while working or taking a case. The only reason Shirley would ever be caught is because she planned to indulge her vice of cocaine in the middle of a search of Donovan’s flat. No wonder after Lamb talks with the police, who had arrested them on the grounds of trespassing, and urges them to let them go, he also fires them from Slough House.

River Cartwright is imprisoned, back again at the bowels of the park, being punched and battered by an understandably irate Duffy because he had been bamboozled by a fake diamond and he had to go around a merry-go-chase in the last episode. Credit to River, though; he isn’t going to give up, apologize, or even give in to the temptation to punch back Duffy. Because, at the end of the day, he is an MI5 agent, and if he bashes back at a senior, he is liable to be fired.

But as he had expected, the door finally opens, and he is escorted out to a waiting lamb who, while berating River for getting caught, also doesn’t leave a chance to berate Duffy and his cohort (line of the day: “Dream On, sir. I can put you down with an eyelash). But it is also revealing when Lamb states that he would have destroyed and rained holy fire on MI5 if anything happened to Catherine; he would have conversely gifted River’s attackers a beer.

He instructs River to meet up with Guy, while he decides to crash the party of one Sly Monteith by simply sliding into their limousine. The confused and flabbergasted Monteith is further astonished upon hearing that the Tiger Team has gone rogue against the Chieftain’s plans. Understanding that this is a disaster going to spiral out of control, he immediately goes to the chieftain’s office to call off the drill by speaking to the corporate commander.

A Still Slow Horses Season 3 Episode 3.

As it turns out, much to the shock and anger of both Guy and River is Spider Webb. Webb had taken over this role once he had been fired from Slough House, but upon learning that Slough House would be involved in this drill of checking defenses for MI5, he couldn’t resist bringing in Cartwright for further humiliation. And it’s not as if Cartwright would be getting any favors from anyone else because even Guy calls him out, asking how he could trust Spider Webb, knowing full well he is the reason they are at Slough House in the first place.

But again, this is where “Slow Horses” comes to the rescue of the scrappy underdogs. As much as the show enjoys putting its protagonists down a peg, it also enjoys putting the so-called higher-ups further down the peg. As a result, Spider’s celebration is short-lived, and his dream of having breakfast with the “Home Secretary” is all for naught because Sly Monteith comes into the office, calls him to the conference room, and, in no uncertain terms, tells him to call off the operation before it gets out of control.

Unfortunately for Monteith and the rest of the Chieftain, it might have already spiraled out of control. As we shift our focus to a waiting Sean Donovan, we realize that this “personal mission” he is on is a vendetta related to the death of Allison Dunn way back in the first episode. A man on a vendetta is not going to listen to corporate orders, least of all from a slicked-back blonde douchebag who thinks he is above everyone else. But again, like all the characters in Slow Horses, they all have varied levels of incompetence. And Sean not only shuts Webb’s pleas down, he bashes his head in the window of his SUV and kills him. Justice served, perhaps, but at what cost?

Slow Horses (Season 3) Episode 3 Ending Explained:

The fabled breakfast between the Home Secretary Ashley Judd and the head of Chieftain Sly Monteith is interrupted by a Mr Webb. Except this, Mr. Webb is a more slovenly, irascible head of Slough House Jackson Lamb. Lamb has no time for etiquette and sits beside the Home Secretary. Judd does remind him that this might be the first time they are meeting, to which Lamb informs snottily that it doesn’t seem that way as he had met his sort too much for Lamb’s liking.

Lamb has come to interrupt this meeting to ensure that Standish is returned to Slough house, except an SUV stops in front of the hotel and leaves Webb’s dead body on the footpath before driving away. As Donovan drives away, a phone call with Webb’s name flashing appears on the Home Secretary’s phone. Lamb, rather unhelpfully, explains that’s not Webb, as he is outside “impersonating roadkill” (What a dialogue!!). That would be his tiger team looking for his head, as Churchill’s quote helpfully points out.

This season isn’t wasting any time in getting to the meat of the matter. Halfway into the season, the show has already pivoted, revealing a kidnapping with deeper implications and even a shakeup among the Slough House members. This season is shaping up to be another winner.

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Slow Horses (Season 3), Episode 3 Links: IMDbRotten TomatoesWikipedia
Slow Horses (Season 3), Episode 3 Cast: Gary Oldman, Jack Lowden, Kristin Scott Thomas
Slow Horses (Season 3), Episode 3 Genre: Drama & Spy Thriller | Total Episodes: 6

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