I had wondered somewhat uneasily whether the writers, cast and crew of 'Spooks' would be able to create a conclusion that would match the still (after ten years!) high standards of this show, but my apprehension turned out to be unfounded. Yes, the quality within this series is uneven. I thoroughly enjoyed episodes 1 and 2, 5 and 6. The third and fourth episodes , while certainly not bad, and with a lot of redeeming features, suffered a little from focusing on the new section chief, Erin Watts (Lara Pulver) and the other field officer, Dmitri Levendis (Max Brown). The fact that they did is, in my opinion, entirely due to the two actors concerned, who were woefully miscast. I should say in fairness that Geoffrey Streatfield, who plays Callum, the other newcomer, is a different kettle of fish. He quickly grew on me - the character has a similar dry wit to Ros Myers, and I think I would have enjoyed him had the series continued. But Max Brown is desperately wooden, and seems to have a gift for becoming almost invisible on screen, even when he has it to himself. Lara Pulver's performance throughout is so poor as to be embarrassing; she reads her lines as if she was still at rehearsal, and alongside actors of the calibre of Nicola Walker and Peter Firth she looks like a first-year drama student, and a poor one at that. The gulf between her and the previous female Section Chief, Ros Myers, as played by Hermione Norris, is vast, and just rubs salt into the wound. Both she and Mr Brown are proof that casting someone for their looks rather than their acting ability is a sad mistake, and because of it, episodes 3 and 4 are the weakest in the run.
Fortunately, those actors' limitations didn't ruin the series because it concentrated mainly on the past and present of Harry Pearce. Peter Firth rises magnificently to the challenge; his acting, always reliably good, becomes breathtakingly so. He, Nicola Walker and the exquisite Simon Russell Beale as Home Secretary, give the series the sparkle that Mr Brown and Ms Pulver could otherwise have entirely drained from it. I was afraid the Harry and Ruth relationship would be allowed to turn the series into soap opera, but although it takes a prominent role, the writers were skilled enough to avoid that trap. Alice Krige, Jonathan Hyde and Tom Weston-Jones are all excellent as Elena, Ilya and Sasha Gavrik respectively.
The ending to the series has not been popular with everyone; I am one of those who feels it was the right ending and appropriate to the overall tone of the show. Whatever the faults and flaws (and yes, there are plot holes, but when have there not been in 'Spooks' if you want to look for them?) of the other episodes, the acting in the finale, and especially in the last ten to fifteen minutes, is outstanding. Very difficult to watch the last few scenes without a little lump in the throat.
I have given the series five stars because it kept me riveted to the screen, made me laugh, made me cry, and gave me the privilege of watching some of our finest actors at the top of their game. A fitting farewell to a TV series that I'm sure I won't be the only one to miss enormously. Thank goodness for box sets!