Slow Horses Series Three Review: Gary Oldman Spy Thriller Raises the Stakes – and the Body Count

Gary Oldman is back as the straight-talking Jackson Lamb, and this time his ragtag team of exiled spooks is fighting an enemy from within MI5 itself…

Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb in Slow Horses
Photo: Apple TV+

WARNING: contains spoilers for Slow Horses series one and two.

If Slow Horses aired on BBC One on Sunday nights instead of streaming on Apple TV+, it would be all anybody was talking about. Based on Mick Herron’s series of novels, it stars Oscar winner Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour) as the world-weary and straight-talking Jackson Lamb, a former MI5 agent who is now living out his days at the head of Slough House, the office building to which disgraced spies (known as “slow horses”) are exiled to do menial grunt work after messing up big time in the field.

As we saw in series one and two, Slough House is frequently the playground for MI5’s Second Desk Diana Taverner (Kristin Scott-Thomas, Gosford Park), who likes to get them involved in her dirty off-the-books ops and then blame them when it all inevitably goes wrong. And one of the more recent slow horse arrivals, River Cartwright (Jack Lowden, Dunkirk) seems to find himself constantly at the centre of these dodgy missions, which have so far included foiling a far-right terror plot to behead a hostage and a high-stakes heist by Russian sleeper agents.

This time, the enemy is from within, as power plays and secret conspiracies within MI5 provide series three’s bad guys and peril. It turns out that spies are a ruthless bunch: we see agent Sean Donovan (Sope Dirisu, Gangs of London) conduct a pulse-racing, Bond-worthy boat and car chase through Istanbul only to find a brutal surprise at the finish line that tears his world apart. Believing it to be a MI5 cover-up, Donovan is out for revenge.


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