‘Slow Horses’ Showrunner On Season 3’s Brutality and Body Count: ‘We Don’t Back Down’

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The sidelined spies of “Slow Horses” are dealing with a kidnapped colleague, corruption at the highest levels of MI5 and a rogue agent as Season 3 of the Apple TV+ series returns.

Ahead of the premiere of the first two episodes, TheWrap spoke with the series showrunner, Will Smith. He confirmed that the third installment, which is based on the Mick Herron book “Real Tigers,” has the highest death toll of the series so far.

River Cartwright (Jack Lowden) is in for more abuse and his surly but brilliant boss Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman) even more brusque and confrontational than usual as they try to bring back Catherine Standish (Saskia Reeves) in one piece.

TheWrap: Season 3 is so tense. Does it have the highest body count of any season so far?

Will Smith: Yeah, I think so. We really wanted to keep viewers guessing, are they gonna make it out alive in that end run? So I’m delighted to carry that off.

It’s interesting, because this season, the threat is entirely coming from inside MI5.

The first season was kind of right wing nationalist. Second season is Russian revenge. And then this season is an internal struggle within MI5 to repress a secret and about all the people that get in the way of that and suffer because of it. Like [new character] Sean, played brilliantly by Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù . The story is driven by his grief and quest for revenge and justice.

It seems like at the very top of MI5, everyone is plotting and scheming against each other.

Yes, and they’re saying, “I’m doing this for the good of the service.”

This season has a lot more focus on some of the female characters. You’ve got a lot more of MI5 chief Ingrid Tierney (Sophie Okonedo), who we saw briefly in the past. She’s at the heart of this season’s mystery.

I think Diana Taverner (Kristin Scott Thomas) would probably say Ingrid’s been too long in the job. And she’s just concerned with the back room politics of it, rather than the day-to-day impact of it.

It’s a bit like, over here, Prime Ministers can get into third terms, and they start to get a bit crazy and they don’t listen to any critics. They become convinced that only they can see the one true way. They settle at the top and voices of dissent are slowly silenced. And Tierney ends up doing pretty despicable things. And there’s no one there to stop her.

Except maybe the Slow Horses.

It’s great to give the Slow Horses some wins along the way. I mean, Nick Duffy [Chris Reilly, whose character is head of MI5’s “Dogs”] will always say, “Slow Horses, they’re useless.” And yes, they are that, and there is a reason they’re there, But it’s good occasionally to show that occasionally they get ahead of the A-team as well.

They never seem to get ahead for long. Everyone’s against them.

I think they’re relatable. They’re struggling with things that people go through. They’re frustrated in their careers, they hate their boss, they’re addicted to gambling, or alcohol or drugs, or they’re going through divorces. They’re lonely. They are all very lonely characters who go home alone. And there’s something very endearing and poignant about that.

There doesn’t seem to be any HR in any of these situations at MI5 or at Slough House.

The HR department in Slough House to be quite behind the beat. I’m not sure Lamb would survive in HR.

Poor River seems to get the worst of it with another brutal beating and, then, of course the insults.

We don’t back down. [Laughs]

Is it my imagination or is Jackson Lamb even more slovenly this season?

You definitely see washing in the sink without your shirt. So you haven’t seen that before. And that’s probably his monthly wash.


Even though Jackson is actually kind of a really horrible person, we’re always rooting for him. Why do you think that is?

I think everyone loves an underdog. He’s just got no regard for convention and most of the people he’s rude to deserve it.

You probably think he’s being a little hard on Catherine (Saskia Reeves) most of the time. But he’s fascinating. He’s intriguing. You look at a guy like that and you think what turned you into this? Why are you this way? Gary is like a living backstory, because he can put such depth into it. It just all makes sense when you look at Gary in that role, you could just say you don’t know the details, but you know what that guy’s been through, what that guy’s done.

The first two episodes of “Slow Horses” Season 3 are now streaming on Apple TV+. Subsequent episodes premiere each Wednesday.

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The post ‘Slow Horses’ Showrunner On Season 3’s Brutality and Body Count: ‘We Don’t Back Down’ appeared first on TheWrap.