Friday, February 02, 2007

Spy vs Spy

I’m still getting over the rather magnificent season finale of CBC’s Intelligence, another example of why thirteen hours is the optimal length for a television season. Really, I shouldn’t have watched it at all, but there was this geezer in the pub, right, and honest, guv’nor ‘e said it were the real deal. Seriously, I can’t help wondering if all this downloading is going to get me into trouble some day. My ISP is a bit cross, but my ISP isn’t the boss of me*.

After the unbagged fertilizer hit the fan at the end of episode twelve, I went into this finale wondering how in the hell Chris Haddock was going to tie everything up. The answer is - he didn’t! The little tease.

For those not in the know (and that should be very few of you - those in the UK with greater torrenting qualms than me ought to be watching Intelligence on FTN, in which case - uh-oh - SPOILERS), Intelligence is about the alternating fortunes of Mary Spalding (Klea Scott), director of the Vancouver Organised Crimes Unit, and Jimmy Reardon (Ian Tracy), a powerful dope dealer who becomes Mary’s star informant. Both have people working against them from without and within their respective camps, and Intelligence is willing to ask a lot from its viewers, who need to keep close tabs on who’s who, and where their allegiances lie at any given moment. Some characters, like Matt Frewer’s long-time intelligence playa and “Nasty Bastard,” Ted Altman, are playing so many angles they end up grossly contorted by their efforts to keep an eye on them all.

To summarise:

Ted’s been gunning for Mary’s job all season, but his efforts to undermine her indirectly revealed a CIA mole within the highest echelon’s of Canada’s intelligence community, possibly one of many. Jimmy’s had to flee Canada following a threat to expose him, and also because things are starting to go waay south between his organisation and the Disciples, a biker gang. He’s run on down to Seattle with his estranged psycho wife and daughter and is using the opportunity to collect some owed cash from his U.S distributor, unaware that he’s just been ripped off to the tune of fifty million by his banker, money that was earmarked for the purchase of a bank in the Bahamas, the purchase of which part of his endgame to be totally legit in five years time. Sadly, he’s walked straight into a sting orchestrated by loose cannon Ted and a D.E.A agent who may or may not be rogue and involved in shady international arms deals, who intends to shoot Jimmy dead. Ted is very uneasy about his last point, but at this stage he’s pissed on his chips and daren’t complain.

After a last, emotional call to his wife and daughter, Jimmy gets ready to make his last stand - with a useless, decommisioned firearm.

Fade to black.

Pretty basic stuff, huh? And you know, when the show started I thought “this is okay, but a little slow.” I went into it expecting it to be hyperkinetic, like Spooks or 24, but it’s way more deliberate than that, more akin to The Wire. Haddock lets plots grow until they threaten to tear apart from internal stress, doing an amazing job of parcelling out only what we need to know as we need to know it, making us feel like evesdroppers while manipulating context like a true spymaster. We can only watch all the little duckies getting into row, Haddock biding his time until he can pull the trigger, as he did at the end of the penultimate episode.

The bullet won’t hit until next season.

*Actually it is, true life fact fans.

1 comment:

  1. It's on Hallmark tonight (and Sunday) and I keep forgetting to watch it although I blogged about the pilot.