For an episode that ideally could be characterized as a slow episode of Slow Horses (Season 3), Episode 4 is still rollicking in pace. There are moments of character development for all the characters except Jackson Lamb, whose presence is so larger than life that it almost threatens to overwhelm the show. And while Lamb gets screen time, precious moments are also allotted to other characters, especially Sean Donovan and his comrades at the scene, as well as Dame Ingrid Tearney, the First Desk of the Park. This is arguably her episode, where her character reveals herself to be intimately involved with the case that incited the events of this season in the first place.

Slow Horses (Season 3) Episode 4 “Uninvited Guests” Recap:

The end of last week’s events properly shakes up Peter Judd. And as Tearney smugly recounted to him, he had sent a private security team to check for defenses at MI5. And now that team has gone wrong. Judd is hilariously double-blind. Not only because Chieftain’s involvement with this incident would hurt his bottom line (as he has a financial stake), but the restaurant where Spider’s body had been found also boats Judd as a financial stakeholder. At the end of the day, Tearney leverages that information by shutting Judd down and promising to make the case disappear because the mud slung at MI5 is more important to her than anything else. To that extent, she calls up Diana Taverner and informs her that she would allow Donovan’s team to get access to the Grey Books if that meant MI5 would be in the clear.

Jackson Lamb, meanwhile, has his sights set on rescuing Catherine Standish. He asks River about the details of the phone call, and when he isn’t satisfied, he takes a look at the picture sent on River’s phone. The scrawls on the walls of the house where Standish is kept are a clue for Lamb, which he (rather nicely) asks Ho to use as a search variable and investigate. But what Lamb also informs him, much to the surprise of River, is the death of Spider. It properly shuts him up, who had felt stung by Spider’s manipulation again, but now the death properly rattled him.

As he explains to Louisa later, they used to be friends once, though it might also be true that Spider used him more than River would care to admit, and if the show was on the other foot, Spider wouldn’t have cared much. Meanwhile, Jackson Lamb heads to the church to meet Ingrid Tearney, who orders him on behalf of the park to ask a couple of Slough House members to act as bodyguards in escorting them inside the facility. Lamb refuses them, and upon hearing the bait that he might owe Ingrid a favor, he categorically refuses her, pointing out that this isn’t the first time he has been used as bait, and this is Judd’s “shit” that Ingrid is tasked with clearing, and Lamb isn’t interested in dealing with any of it.

In River’s case, though, we see him battling on a personal front. A call comes from the country club that his grandfather used to be a member of, something he had forgotten, and now the concierge is asking River to escort his grandfather out. River goes to meet with his grandfather and reminds him how he had decided in one of their numerous meetings by the fireplace that half a century of membership had been enough.

As it turns out, that was true. While his grandfather was left to ponder his declining mental condition, River got a call from Ingrid, who personally selected him to escort Donovan and his man inside the facility. River accepts the proposal to “wipe his slate clean” and also get back into the good graces with MI5. Even his grandfather, mildly hobbled mentally as he might be, is still sharp enough to bypass River’s doubts and say, “It’s the First Desk, and you have already said yes.”.

Slow Horses (Season 3) Episode 4: Recap & Ending Explained
Jonathan Pryce in “Slow Horses,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

The question that arises, though, is: who is Sean Donovan, and what does he want? Because, as far as crackpots are concerned, Donovan doesn’t seem like one of them. On the contrary, he is a man presumably still tortured by the loss of his lover Allison (Katherine Waterston). But it also turns out that his two cohorts are the siblings of the deceased Allison, and both siblings are fuelled by revenge and ensuring that Sean’s mission is a success.

Thus, even when Sturges tries to escape, and Ben and Sean both try to catch him and fail, Sean isn’t too distraught over that loss. On the contrary, he is resolute. As he explains to Catherine, he captured her because of her knowledge of the filing system of the facility. While Catherine initially refuses to help Donovan, he later hears the Dunn sibling’s conversations and common decency forces her to call them and give the room number in the facility where the documents might be kept.

Unbeknownst to them, Jackson Lamb is already underway. As par for the course for Slow Horses, the Slough House team always does good work, even though all of those characters have varied levels of issues. Marcus and Shirley learn the hard way that they have both been fired: Shirley because of her drug habit and Marcus because of his inability to follow a direct order. Poor Lamb would be wrong if he thought that he wouldn’t be disappointed by the antics of his subordinates. Ho’s car, a souped-up Nissan, positively frightens him, and he orders Ho to shut up and drive silently to the Dunn house, which Ho had managed to locate by cross-referencing the scrawls on the walls with locations Sean Donovan might have had access to.

Back at Slough House, River is forced to have backup in the form of Louisa, and while they are waiting for the guys to arrive, both of them have a sloppy heart-to-heart. At least River tries to convince Louisa to talk to a therapist about the loss of her partner Min, to which she snaps back at his nature to prove himself at the cost of sabotaging his career and the career of everyone else.

All because he didn’t know his parents and his grandfather were ideals he could never hope to achieve. But after that outburst, the two characters have a surprising, albeit brief, emotional reconciliation. It helps them to regroup when they finally meet up with Donovan and Ben, and after searching for them, he escorts them inside the facility. Of course, Louisa has none of the patience for the clerk in the facility, reminding you of the barely covered distaste of Taverner back in the first episode.

Slow Horses (Season 3) Episode 4 “Uninvited Guests” Ending Explained:

What we do learn about Ingrid Tearney is fascinating here. It is not just because she is surprisingly hands-on regarding the Grey Books. It is also because she learns from Duffy that Donovan’s cohorts are the Dunn siblings, and learning that Allison Dunn might be involved definitely calls her to action. She clearly knows something about “operation footprint” or might have been directly involved in it. Tearney even goes to the basement to search for the documents, only to learn from Molly that the documents in Lot 27 have been shifted to the facility.

Now convinced that Donovan is after those documents rather than the Grey Books, Tearney is eager to cover her tracks. She immediately calls Duffy, who, in the meantime, has coerced the rest of the Chieftain crew to accompany them to the facility. But the plans have now changed. Instead of accompanying Donovan and Ben back to MI5, now Duffy and his team are instructed to execute them with extreme prejudice.

This is all occurring unaware of the four inside the facility, with Louisa and River unable to stop Donovan and Ben as they clearly go searching for documents unrelated to the Grey Books. This is again turning out to be a comedy of errors, but with deadly consequences. And with Lamb not anywhere in the vicinity, River and Louisa would have to trust their wits to get out of the precarious situation they are unaware of having been stuck in.

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Slow Horses (Season 3), Episode 4 Cast: Gary Oldman, Jack Lowden, Kristin Scott Thomas
Slow Horses (Season 3), Episode 4 Genre: Drama & Spy Thriller | Total Episodes: 6
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