Slow Horses: Welcome to Slough House

Apple TV+ has been rolling out interesting shows since it was established and Slow Horses may or may not be one of those that is counted among that number. But while some folks are of the mind that it’s not that great, others are having a blast with it already since to be fair, the acting is sound even if the material is a bit dry at times and requires a great deal of attention from the audience. When dealing with shows and movies that deal with spies and the espionage game though, it’s not hard to think that the Jason Bourne and James Bond type of action isn’t always going to be the norm. This show makes that point quite well when it depicts River Cartwright, portrayed by Jack Lowden, as an MI5 agent that is demoted to Slough House after a failed training mission blows up in his face. One might actually get a mild laugh out of thinking about how a spy might get demoted since it doesn’t sound the same thing as being demoted at a regular 9 to 5-day job. 

The fact is that it’s much worse according to this story since the moment that he’s sent to Slough House, the location where those engaged in espionage go when their career has tanked. He’s not the only one, as there are several other individuals that are either just about ruined when it comes to their careers or are there for other reasons that aren’t fully explained but are implied throughout the first couple of episodes. Jackson Lamb, portrayed by Gary Oldman, is the type of boss that has likely done a few things in his life before being given such a dubious past, but it’s quickly established that he doesn’t like River at all and is set on making him quit since he’s not about to give River the satisfaction of being released from Slough House. 

One of the only agents that Lamb appears to show any regard for is Sidonie, who is portrayed by Oliva Cooke. It’s established Sidonie is not in ill favor, but is in Slough House for another reason, as it appears that she might be watching River. This gives the feeling that his position might not be as hopeless as the audience is led to believe, but it’s still easy to state that his impetuous nature and need to be where the action is might do his reputation even more harm before he gets the chance to redeem himself. There is a general feeling that Lamb truly doesn’t like River, but at the same time, he’s waiting for the younger agent to do something that will prove him wrong. It could be just pure speculation, but characters such as Lamb tend to inspire the feeling that they’re not as crusty and miserable as they appear, but give off that type of attitude to avoid making anyone soft. Trying to build people up by constantly tearing them down, to make them tough by hammering on them again and again with psychological attacks, might not be something that folks are ready and willing to accept, but again, it could be just a guess and nothing more. 

If anything, it could be a way to redeem River by reminding him that he’s not always right and that it is important to follow the chain of command and not fly off the hook whenever one thinks that they’re right and everyone else is wrong. The fact is that during the training exercise, River was wrong when it came to identifying the subject of interest that he was trying to find. The next fact, that he can’t accept this, and can’t move forward, is a big reason why he comes off as a rather arrogant character that could change his life around by simply admitting that he doesn’t know everything. But the fact is that characters like these are kind of fun to watch since their development ends up taking several different twists and turns before they end up realizing what it was that was keeping them down for so long. That’s a theory at least since things could progress in a way that might see River find his way back to MI5, or Slough House might be more than what it appears to be. 

As of now, the show is something that does spark interest when it comes to espionage on a slightly more sedate level than many movies that have been seen to date. But while some people love it, others find it to be a snooze, which is rather common. As each episode continues to roll forward and add more twists and turns to the story though, it feels fair to say that this show could take a serious turn at some point that might make it one of the better programs being streamed in 2022. 

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