TV: MI-5 (Season 8)

The eighth season of MI-5 is a weak one by series standards, but still watchable and engaging for all that.  At a slim eight episodes, it seems like the idea well may be running dry, though.

Lately, the series has been combining season-long arcs with self-contained, threat-of-the-week episodes, and that trend continues here as Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) and his team gradually unravel an international corporate conspiracy with the codename Nightingale. This season contrives to return brilliant analyst Ruth Evershed (Nicola Walker) to the fold, while Lucas North (Richard Armitage) and Ros Myers (Hermione Norris) continue to do the heavy lifting in the field.

It’s a decent if unspectacular storyline, definitely several steps down from the show’s peak in the sixth year. While the big picture is different, the details seem vaguely familiar; it feels as if the show is repeating itself at this point, perhaps even subconsciously.

I also wonder if it’s a sign of the show’s age that its MO of reinventing itself through cast changes feels a bit pro forma this time. Season eight’s crew is a skeleton one, without the personality of earlier groups. Even Pearce, usually a reliable source of acerbic fury, seems a bit subdued. Only Hermione Norris, who continues to build on Ros Myers’ ass-kickingly fearless reputation, makes a strong impression. On the whole season eight is a bit disappointing, then; enough to engage the completists, perhaps, but not much more.

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