From its heartfelt beginning to its wrenching conclusion, London Spy deftly navigated its emotional twists and turns, and delivered us, as promised, to the inevitable revelation of its darkest truths.
(This review contains spoilers.)
It is interesting that London Spy was written not from Alex’s logical/mathematical perspective (as most conspiracy stories are), but from Danny’s emotional/intuitive one. Left alone and facing an enemy he could never hope to outsmart, Danny relied on the only compass he was able to trust to see him through: his heart. His unique way of understanding the world provided a window into the love that Alex felt for him, and revealed the hidden strength of London Spy.
Most conspiracy shows are presented like a mystery that must be solved. Danny, however, is not a spy. He doesn’t fit in this world, doesn’t think or understand the way spies do. His experience of the conspiracy is off-kilter. His aim is not to solve the puzzle or outmaneuver his enemy. It is only to find, and reveal, the truth. He has been cornered by the conspiracy; they’ve cut off every option available to him and left him with no rational course of action. Danny’s power, his only power, is the power of truth.
Alex, whose entire life had been built on deception, devoted himself to abolishing lies, and yet was killed for telling them. Scottie, who submitted to an organization that demanded he lie about who he was, who struggled with alcohol and a desire to end his own life because he wasn’t free to be his true self, died as a result of his own refusal to keep hiding the truth. But what chance did either of these men have when sweet, open Danny walked into their lives wearing his heart on his sleeve? Both knew they were in deadly danger by associating with him so closely while under such scrutiny. Both were willing to risk it. We could even see the moment of agony on Alex’s face when he realized that he would rather die than live without Danny. Truth is a powerful thing. Powerful enough to topple the Turner household. Powerful enough to lead Mrs. Turner down the same dangerous, hopeless path as her son. Powerful enough to bring an international conspiracy to its knees?
But that’s the beauty of placing Danny at the centre of this story. He’s not a player in this game. He’s not attempting to topple the conspiracy or defeat the puppet masters. He’s not interested in continuing Alex’s work or bringing the lie detector to fruition. All he wants is for the world to know the truth about how Alex died. The simple fact of his murder. These are Danny’s goals. They come from his heart, not his brain, and he can’t be threatened, beaten or reasoned out of them. This is not a political story. It is a human one.
It is this humanity that makes London Spy such a gripping, heartbreaking experience. It is present in so many ways, from the threads of social justice running through it, to the simple failures of all its characters to be their best selves at all times. While not always perfectly logical, the series remained deeply affecting throughout. Plans for series two are something of a mystery right now, but one thing is certain: I’ll be watching.
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