Warning: Major spoilers, if you haven't seen series 9 yet
(you'll find a link to the video at the end of the post)
I'm so happy. My Spooks 9 Boxset has just arrived. It's a gorgeous box with 3 DVDs. On the back of the box it says:
BAFTA award-winning British television spy drama Spooks is back for another knuckle-clenching series which leaves Section D questioning how much a person must sacrifice to be a spy. The ninth series of the critically acclaimed Spooks is filled with dramatic revelations and a host of new characters: Sophia Myles (Underworld, Doctor Who), Max Brown (Mistresses, The Tudors), Ian Glen (The blue Room, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) , Simon Russel Beale (Much Ado About Nothing, Uncle Vanya) and Laila Rouass (Primeval, Footballers' Wives). 
Friendships will be tested and depth of deceit will lead to an unprecedented game of cat and mouseasthe characters they play and the impact they have on the team dynamic will have viewers enthralled.
I've already seen all the episodes and some of them more than once. So, where did I start watching my new DVDs from? Disc 3 and its bonus interviews, of course! They are so interesting! I've always liked the behind the scenes stuff,  but you know the reason why I am so interested in these extras. I can't deny it: Richard Armitage.
He is usually good at giving his characters a background story and so convincing while explaining the why for everything happening to them. He had to be more than good  this time, because he had a very hard task: accepting, giving shape to and make us be involved in his hero's downfall.
 The Downfall of Lucas North 
There are two interesting bonus features in DVD 3 "The cost of being a spy " and "The Downfall of Lucas North". In the first one, they analyse the theme of being a spy according to BBC Spooks. In this feature the cost of such a task is reflected on,  remembering Tom Quinn, (series 1, episode 2 and 6 with Matthew Mac Fadyen!)  Adam Carter and  Ros Meyers, as well as welcoming the new ones, Beth and Dimitri, or asking the still active senior agents Harry, Ruth and Lucas about it.
In the second one, of course, the analysis is focused on Lucas North and his journey through the latest  three series of Spooks. Mainly series 9.
Nicola Walker, Ruth in the series, introduces the not - any- longer surprising twist of series 9:
Step forward the real Lucas North (while on the screen a piercing stare from Richard Armitage's stunning blue eyes darts at you). Yeah, I mean, no one expected that. And this is the first time that you've had the lead Spook actually not be who he appears to be. (...) He's totally torn as well because he adores Harry. He's tried to become the man that he's masquerading as. He's tried to make good. (...) I'm quite impressed watching Richard unravel him as the episodes are going by. Really small things he's doing. Just watch this character who seemed very straight and controlled and contained, just see him breaking down. He's been brilliant at doing that.

I didn't miss a word of  the thorough analysis Richard  does of his Lucas / John character.
He says: Lucas North is a chimera, he's actually a mingling of what he was and what he tried to become. Here's how Richard describes the John Bateman he has in his mind while acting,  and how he explains his decisions and actions. I don't know but, told by Richard, it seems to make more sense, all that absurd story seems more acceptable in his words.
John Bateman was a bit of a lazy dropout, I think, and Maya was the worker, she was the studious one. And their relationship was tight and they really ... you know... they were made for each other. John realised that he wasn't gonna be able to support her financially. He kind of got involved with this guy who was doing a drugs run, and he saw it as an opportunity to pick up some extra money.  So he goes to Dakar, and he gets caught, and he gets stranded out there, and needs to pay his way back. So he meets this guy, Vaughan. They start running career jobs for the British government, one of which turns out to be an embassy bomb. Seventeen people die, five British citizens died. Vaughn is the architect but John is the engine driver. He knew what he was doing. And the creation of Lucas North after the event was very much John's doing. I don't think there was any plan, I think he just needed the passport. He had to reinvent himself, he had to hide within the legend of Lucas North.

All these prison tattoos do tie into the John Bateman situation. The NOSCE TE IPSUM, "Know thyself".  On his arm we have, "I hear nothing, I see nothing, I say nothing to nobody".  And "While I live, I breathe" ( DUM SPIRO SPERO) on the back of his neck. And on his chest is a William Blake painting, which is Urizen, God is the Architect. So, it's all about recreating himself, but at the same time not losing the truth inside.

 Interestingly, Lucas' relationships have failed. He's had this wonderful relationship with Elizaveta. ... Sarah Caufield.  But the one relationship that he does hang on to, the person that reminds him who John Bateman was, is Maya. Vaughan delivers a suitcase with photographs in it. Maya happens to be one of the photographs, and there's this shock reaction to seeing her again.

 Suddenly, it's like an awakening, and he ...it's like John Bateman starts to wake up and say "Hang on, what about me?" He finally realises that he can't really be Lucas North forever. It's already kind of shattering and crumbling, and he's trying to hang on to that because that's his life. At MI5, that's all he has, really, and it's a strong place to be.  It makes him feel good. Without that he's, you know, he's a terrorist that would be captured and imprisoned. So he can't be there and he can't be John Bateman, either. So, he's sort of in limbo, but Maya is the only thing that really feels real.
 Vaughan has been blackmailing Lucas to bring him a file called Albany, which is the file of all files. (...) Lucas uses Ruth as leverage to get Harry to deliver Albany, so that he can deliver Albany to Vaughan and get Maya back. Poor, beautiful, tragic Ruth. He knows deep down inside, "I will never be able to hurt Ruth", but he has to appear to do it. And likewise, over the phone to Harry, you know, all the threats, Lucas ...Lucas-John sets up a bomb, which turns out to be a fake bomb, because it's all about leverage, it's all about manipulation. It's about what is real, what seems to be real, and what you believe to be real. Harry knows that Albany isn't real. So he knows what  he is delivering to Lucas. He can deliver it, because it doesn't exist.

 And yet about Maya :

(...) In a way she (Maya) is a memory, that he thought he could get back there, and that he could become John again and that they'd have a future together. And I actually think, when he lost her, he realises that would never have happened. 
And about his final scene: 
(...) Well, it's quite an elegant death. A non - violent death. Which is, sort of, what I asked for.

So, you see, he leaves no hope. Lucas - John died. He died quite an elegant death, according to RA (???)
Then the interviewer asks him: "You are bowing out now from Spooks, what highlights have there been over the years"?
I think being strapped naked to an electric chair, having water thrown over me, and , sort of, wired up to a car battery, covered in tattoos and being electrocuted was a high point.  
I think the moment where he got on a chair and put his head in a noose was quite interesting, because it was just a stage direction, the director said "I'll leave the camera on, and however you get on that chair is up to you". So that was quite an interesting acting exercise for me.
Richard's best comment is in "The Cost of being a Spy",  in my opinion. He states: "I've realised in this series that Lucas is actually a better actor than I am"

Andrew Woodhead, Executive Producer,  finally declares: I hope we've made a series where ultimately you'll watch Lucas' journey and think, "Oh! I wish it hadn't been like that"! And "Oh, and him and Maya, maybe they could've been together, and maybe it would've been all right". 
He is right. I thought, " Oh I wish it wasn't like that" all the time,  while watching. And now I think, "Oh I wish  it hadn't been like that".  I'm so sorry Richard's Lucas couldn't leave the show in a different way. Can someone just tell me why?

The caps from the DVD extras are from www.richardarmitagenet.com

You can watch the interviews in "The Downfall of Lucas North" on My Youtube Channel


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much MG to give us a glimpse of RA's explanation of Lucas.
I like how you can tell he has, as with his other characters, developed and filled in the background story of Lucas/John, I read it and think 'yeah that's what I saw in the show', still I can't get used to the idea of John being the real person *sigh*
I guess, the executive producer and all the Spooks team achieved one of their objectives with me, I certainly think 'I wish it wasn't like that'.

Thanks again MG! OML :)

Phylly3 said...

Wow! Thanks for printing all those quotes from the DVD. I am so glad to hear Richard's version of the backstory of John Bateman. I know he had to invent it in order to play his character so well. (I'm sure he didn't get all that introspection from the writers). Just like they gave him the chair and kept the film rolling, they gave him a script and more or less said, "Make it work!" and he DID! But in the hands of a less talented actor, it NEVER would have worked! That is the real secret of Spooks' popularity -- the amazing talent of its cast.
Anyway, I really appreciate your post, MG! Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

Gosh! No one can say you are a superficial watcher, MG! ;)
Thank you for such a detailed report, much appreciated: can't wait to listen to RA's explanations myself, although I still can't get over it (Lucas/John story, that is) :-(
xx K/V

Traxy said...

I agree wholeheartedly with what's already been said. Thank you for your wonderful post with the quotes about Lucas/John, and the pictures that go along with them ... Very interesting to read!

CDoart said...

Thank you, Maria Grazia, for the transcription. I loved to read it, though I got my DVD's yesterday and started with the third one as well ;o)
My reaction to the explanations, not only RA's, was a bit like "They really believed the story". Strange, for I presume they must have, otherwise they would not have done it. Still, I was somewhat surprised, that no further revelation or explanation came up.