Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Part 6 - Smiley Sets a Trap
March 26, 2015 4:36 PM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

With a new light cast on the aftermath of Operation Testify—who told Jim Prideaux to forget it, man... forget it! and move on with his post-Circus life—George Smiley knows who in the Merlin/Witchcraft circle to approach first. But before he heads down that path, a bit of follow-up is in order with old-boy lamplighter and drunkard footie newsman Jerry Westerby.

Just to be clear, this is the penultimate episode for this viewing. There's been some confusion about which cut of this show we were watching. I'd only ever been aware of the original 7-episode BBC cut (the Region 2 DVDs were so much cheaper!) but apparently anyone who was awake in 1980's America watched a 6-episode re-cut on PBS.

This episode begins with the Jerry Westerby interview and ends in a meeting with Lacon. Proceed? Proceed.
posted by carsonb (21 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Having viewed the proper episode, (what were we missing) What is a "Ju-Ju man" that Jimbo refers to concerning Prideaux.
posted by clavdivs at 6:45 PM on March 26, 2015


A Juju man is a practitioner of witchcraft I believe...

If the version that's up on YouTube is the same as the US PBS version then not only are the episode breaks in different places, but there are also some cuts here and there. Get the R2 DVD set.

The Jerry Westerby we get here is impossible to reconcile with the romantic dashing doer of derring-do character in Le Carre's The Honourable Schoolboy. It's hard to imagine this chap getting involved in a gunfight in the Cambodian jungle, or being entrusted to a vital and dangerous task by Smiley (the look of contempt on George's face when Jerry is stuffing his face and offering his services!) - he's much more suited for making eyes at barmaids in cellars.
posted by sobarel at 7:38 PM on March 26, 2015


"It's hard to imagine this chap getting involved in a gunfight in the Cambodian jungle"

The book seems good, to bad it won't be produced for a movie if it's an Oldman vechile, as there was no Jerry. But having not read the book (saving it for prison), I cannot draw a comparison.
This is honest Jerry. Being drunk is almost an asset for Jerry. He wrote Smiley concerning Toby's strange reaction and George burns it. Plus, he doesn't wince when Jer mentions the "demon wife". Notice Smileys dead stare at Jer when he inquired: "hunting alone".
posted by clavdivs at 9:35 PM on March 26, 2015


the look of contempt on George's face when Jerry is stuffing his face and offering his services!

Each time I watch George and Jerry's meal I come away with a bit fuller understanding of these characters' relationships. There are mountains of information hidden behind dense and hushed sentences, within quick looks and raised eyebrows. They're having this conversation in public, and so what is said is said quietly and rushed. Jerry is very much of the same school as George, they likely went to Cambridge together if not prep school before that. Jerry's mannerisms and turns of phrase feel rooted in his schooling experience, what with the juvenile American Indian metaphor that he stretches to breaking and they way they greet each other and indeed the contempt shown by George, as though to a child.

Jerry is indeed deserving of being on the shelf, and despite George's reassurances there will likely never be another assignment for this version of Westerby. He's too drunk, too sad sack, and not subtle enough any more. Sure, he's eager to help, but as soon as he tries to get the information flowing back in his direction he gets shut down. George shows up unannounced, mentions the letter, and gets Jerry to tell him the story, but the second Jerry thinks to ask why George is asking that look crawls out of George's face and he pointedly says nothing.

And, of course, in retaliation Jerry goes right for Anne, and in the interests of being thorough George takes the bait: I told [Toby] to stuff it up his silk drawers. Jerry insinuates that Toby was bragging about joining the crowd and sleeping with Anne, and that's the (subtle, slow) fire that's stoked under George, why he's so harsh and taunting with Toby during their interview. Smiley is surer now that Toby's not the mole, but he's disappointed that his star recruit has strayed so far as to be taking orders from the likes of Percy Alleline and Bill Haydon and Roy Bland. And he's a bit peeved about Anne, so let Toby sweat.

Yet another thing that I caught in this watch that I hadn't pieced together before is that Toby feels someone behind him when he goes to meet Peter about a Polish fur trader, he's got a long, searching look over his shoulder before the door opens. Then George is suspicious and sees a 'shadow' (quite confident that it's not Toby's man, I think George already suspects who it is). Peter's feeling it too, there's one man back there but they can't quite put eyeballs on him. And it's confirmed that they're being followed near the end, that one man in a hat trailing behind. Jim.

Anyway, back to Toby. The big question, the one question George asks that will both let Toby off the hook and make him betray his magic circle of Circus friends, is something George already knows the answer to. The glasses come off, Peter interjects, a slow 'Hoh!' to see a little clearer, and then he answers his own question: You all meet him. Perhaps George's finest moment of interrogation, totally in hand, in control, and in the right. He really lines this one up, and I think he goes to all the effort to sweat Tobe just because Jerry let slip that the ol' rum chap had been telling stories about his wife.

The acting in this episode makes me so happy. Bernard Hepton's accent for Toby slips in the most delightful way, especially when he's angry or scared. George's brogue slips through too, on the mellifluous Quite untainted with the mischief of espionage. And oh the look Guinness gives after Westerby calls Esterhase a 'rum chap' is priceless. Yes, he's as eccentric as I am straight-laced, but good. Genius even! Joss Ackland shoveling that horrid glop into his maw and awkwardly chuckling his way to ass-hood, so so good.
posted by carsonb at 11:17 PM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, I should have said that this episode ends with Ricky Tarr holding a gun.
posted by carsonb at 8:30 AM on March 27, 2015


What is a "Ju-Ju man" that Jimbo refers to concerning Prideaux.

A spy, a hood, a suspicious fellow. Mendel fits the bill when we first hear it, Jim tags him with the name from afar, into Jumbo's ear. Roach is only repeating what Jim told and/or insinuated to him that afternoon after burning up the Alvis, knowing full well that Jim's a Ju-Ju man too but keeping the secret from his buddies like he promised he would.
posted by carsonb at 8:41 AM on March 27, 2015


I think in the books field agents are "hard men" and their bosses are "juju men". As Guillam says when telling George about the new arrangements under Alleline:

"In your day, the Circus ran itself by regions. Africa, satellites, Russia, China, South East Asia, you name it: each region was commanded by its own juju man; Control sat in heaven and held the strings. Remember?"

You can imagine that Prideaux has developed feelings of ambivalence to juju men after Brno.

Joss Ackland shoveling that horrid glop into his maw

And drinking bottled beer out of pewter tankards. This is an England that's long since disappeared.
posted by sobarel at 9:39 AM on March 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


"He really lines this one up, and I think he goes to all the effort to sweat Tobe just because Jerry let slip that the ol' rum chap had been telling stories about his wife."

So George is getting revenge against some cheap hood for making cracks at his wife? Will George use Toby again? Or Jerry? Hmmm. The "rum chap" comment is in reference to your fork and spoon/ hugger- mugger eyebrows conversation. He is playing along with George. Jerry knows the score and is honest in his interview.
"How's the demon wife"/ I'll shack up with Anne. Jerry is being human and not covering up what everone knew.
posted by clavdivs at 4:40 PM on March 27, 2015


So George is getting revenge against some cheap hood for making cracks at his wife? Will George use Toby again?

No, I don't think so! To George, Toby is not some cheap hood, he's one of his earliest and finest recruits to The Circus. I think George took the opportunity to chastise Toby for abandoning him for the Witchcraft circle, and I think he made it a relatively miserable experience for Toby because he slept with Anne. Could have gone a little easier on him, esp since Smiley doesn't really think Tobe was in charge of the mole. He was more of a functionary, doing what he was told and OK with that because they let him into the magic circle (barely). George will most def use Tobes again, simply because he's the best. As Smiley is exemplifying in this series (and Smiley's People later on), you can take the spy out of the network, but you can't ever really take the network out of the spy. Even if one were to 'never use' Toby Esterhase again, Tobe would still have a huge network of lamplighters to call upon for his own or someone else's purposes. If you discard Toby, you discard his capabilities and his services and his people too, and everyone knows they're the finest capabilities and services and people available so why do that?

As for the 'rum chap' comment, that was again Jerry digging at George, not necessarily at Toby. "Rum chap" has a very specific meaning—camp, narcissistic, eccentric, quirky chap/individual or member of the establishment in satirical humour or derogatory fashion. Jerry knows Tobes is George's man, ostensibly, so mentioning the odd stuff is just his way of trying to take George down a notch. "Couldn't have recruited someone from our circle for Tobes' job, George?" is what he's insinuating. Kept it local, within the old-boy network, etc? "Sure, Toby is good, genius even, but he's weird, and that's what you get with weird chaps, George, they sleep with your wife, hah-ha!" To which George responds with "....... rot out here in your drunk, Jerry" and takes his leave.
posted by carsonb at 7:14 PM on March 27, 2015


Jerry is the cheap hood which referenced in the previous episode which George related "not going to go weak in the knees because some cheap hood made a..."

Whatever made you think Tobe was sleeping with Anne? I assume we cannot reference books or other movies to build the character yes?
Apologies for throwing loose jargon around, it can be confusing. Yes, Jerry did toss out Anne real quick and Jerry relates something non-specfic concerning hence the silk shorts rebuke.
Perspective is lost with this adultery stuff. George's thing, as you pointed out, is Anne but he basically excepts that. Goerges thing is Bill specifically and people making childish remarks. Pushing his buttons and that is his thing. But that is also emotion, cast aside quickly if needed when retro analysis is required.
posted by clavdivs at 6:30 AM on March 28, 2015


with "....... rot out here in your drunk, Jerry" and takes his leave.

film index for this line because I don't recall that.
posted by clavdivs at 6:40 AM on March 28, 2015


Yes, I concede, after re watching that exchange towards the end, George rolls his eyes up at Jerry but is that the dog whistle or Jerry trying to tattle on Tobe for talking about Bills fling with Anne. Either way, Jerry does have an idea something is up after all the subject matter was Tobes odd behavior concerning the Czech story and the subsequent burnt letter. So Jerry knows something's up. "Rum chap"
But good says George, hinting to Jerry that Tobe is not the problem. Allaying any fears I suppose that Jerry may have about his future position concerning espionage.
from our viewing perspective, Jerry is wondering what george is up too and is honest in his answers. Well, as much as possible.
I believe it was rice pilaf that Jerry was shoveling, that must have been amusing for Ackland.
posted by clavdivs at 6:54 AM on March 28, 2015


film index for this line because I don't recall that.

Figuratively speaking, which means the quotation marks were a bad choice. It's as if he was saying...

What Toby told Jerry about Anne was a big question of mine. I thought he might have been talking about Bill at first too (the film emphasizes Bill and Anne's relationship) but throughout this series pretty much everyone insinuates that they've slept with her, or have heard that she's sleeping with someone. So now I imagine that Jerry tells George (after some prodding and only because he's taken the hint that The Circus won't be needing his services) that Toby was bragging about sleeping with Anne. It's a very under-the-table insinuation, and indeed we only get a few mumbled words from Jerry about it, nothing specific.
posted by carsonb at 7:58 AM on March 28, 2015


I just pondered.
"Did Toby sleep with Anne?"

As in "The Circus Turns".

You hit it, it's George's 'thing' but he knows that Anne does this and it is accepted to some degree. When George suspects Bill, at some point, he uses that against George in Bills 'interview', with a Callo no less.
What George sees is that others use that for his weakness which it is but less so then anyone knows, even Bill.

That's everyone else weakness, perceiving that George is weak when after all George rebukes Jerry "How many (wife's) would that make."

George is looking for anyone mentioning Anne as a trigger. But Jerry seems to pass muster by allaying Jerry that he is not hunting Toby as evidenced by "but good" in reference to "rum chap".
posted by clavdivs at 9:42 AM on March 28, 2015


"Yet another thing that I caught in this watch that I hadn't pieced together before is that Toby feels someone behind him when he goes to meet Peter about a Polish fur trader, he's got a long, searching look over his shoulder before the door opens. Then George is suspicious and sees a 'shadow' (quite confident that it's not Toby's man, I think George already suspects who it is). Peter's feeling it too, there's one man back there but they can't quite put eyeballs on him. And it's confirmed that they're being followed near the end, that one man in a hat..."

A good observation. One I think is a theme through the movie: 'who is watching the watchers'
But to Toby. He is using Moscow Rules lite. I have a thesis as to who may be following.
-Tobe looking out for muggers
-Tobe meeting Peter is a precautionary move.
-Bill and Roy
-"5"
-FCD/KGB
-KARLA
-someone from his past/present.
Notice how he relaxes once inside.
I think it was KARLA. But Goerge and Co. Being spotted means The lure won't work so it's safe to assume someone is watching, most likely one person.
posted by clavdivs at 10:02 AM on March 28, 2015


The show sets up who the "shadow" is, but it's done with subtlety. After the Westerby interview we cut to the boys' school, where the headmaster is bitching and moaning about how his new teacher and rugby coach has run off to tend to his dying mother. And we get Jumbo talking about Ju-Ju Men and how Rhino isn't one of those sorts. He's lying, of course, protecting their secret.

Later we cut to Jim gassing up the Alvis just off the highway.

Then the tense walking scene between Toby's safe house and the meeting with Lacon, where a single man in a hat is shown to be following Smiley and Guillam.

And finally, even after Peter has checked the area, we see Jim appear under the bridge, watching, following, waiting. All of this, except for the very beginning with our secondary and tertiary (or tertiary and quartenary) characters, is without dialog and played out in scenes that look like transitions between scenes. In so many TV shows and films, these transitions say nothing more to the audience than "Look, here we go to someplace else," but in TTSS they're an entire sub-plot integrated seamlessly into Smiley's investigation. He's even aware of it, suspicious of the presence he's detecting, and keeping a close eye out. You could even argue that Smiley condones Prideaux' continued involvement full knowing what's going on, though he never ever lets on to anyone else that he had any idea it was Prideaux.

Thinking about it I realize it looks like there's little reasoning behind my idea that Smiley knows it's Rhino in that 'shadow,' but I'm basing this hunch on the way George interviewed Toby, the way he shot down Peter's suggestions for checking outside.
posted by carsonb at 10:51 AM on March 28, 2015


The original UK version was on YouTube last year, anyway. The recut US version is not only about 30 minutes shorter, it actually reorders some events.

Wish I could buy the original UK version here in the states. I can't bring myself to pay for an inferior version (the DVD transfer quality is also much criticized at Amazon).
posted by pmurray63 at 1:34 PM on March 28, 2015


The original BBC cut is available at Amazon.com boxed together with Smiley's People. This is the version I have. I actually like the grainy transfer from 16mm, it gives the darker moments more depth and adds in general to the mood of the time/place. All you need is an amenable DVD player (region-free).
posted by carsonb at 2:33 PM on March 28, 2015


Well, perhaps even KARLA does not want Bill, so if he is watching, he is doing just that and letting the chips fall... Could this be KARLAs undoing?

I think your hunch about George aware of someone, most likely Jim, and he being mum makes sense. But that would revel a part of George that is the old cold George. If he is thinking ahead, he knows what Prideaux will do. It seems a big risk, breaking the rules but he is dealing with KARLA.
posted by clavdivs at 5:17 PM on March 28, 2015


It's amazing the loyalty George inspires in the other on-the-outs spies. Jerry seems positively eager to do anything to help.

George could probably set up a quiet little network of his own in-country. But he's too much the archetype of a flabby Western liberal to do that.

Of course he picks up on Jerry's jump from talking about Toby to talking about Ann. Which means the two are connected.

George (and maybe Control) probably discounted Allaline fom the very start. Not enough to not suspect him, but being the face and the mole is very, very risky. There are three of them, and Alleline. Toby doesn't get it in the interrogation, asking why George would want to go after a little guy.

The interrogation of Esterhase in the film is much more dramatic, with the threat to drop him back in Hungary.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:19 AM on April 1, 2015


Jerry seems positively eager to do anything to help.

Westerby really enjoyed carousing around Europe with very slim responsibilities to The Circus (he was just manning a letter box), so it's no doubt he'd be eager to do that again. He also knows George has quite a bit of sway when it comes to The Circus, even though he's on the outs too, so who better to ask? Plus, it's not a huge logical leap for even a drunk clown like Jerry to put together an idea about leaking secrets and moles when an entire army is prepared days in advance of capturing one solitary British spy, so if he figures that's what George is hunting then it follows that there may be a general ouster for the folks who fired him. His hunch was right, after all, something's off.

Both George and Control stated explicitly that they were dubious of Alleline being capable of even setting up a source, let alone being a mole. You have to be competent to be a mole, and Alleline is pompous, proper, blustery, and pragmatic but all the same not very competent.

I think if you watch George very closely whenever anyone speaks to him about Toby Esterhase, you can learn a lot about their relationship. Recruited him from a slum, trained him up into a very fine (if a bit rum) impersonation of British propriety, and honed his natural lamplighter skills—George has a lot invested in Toby. Picking up on all these tiny details really helps dramatize an interrogation that, when compared to the relatively zippy film, could sure, yes, be seen as a bit dry.
posted by carsonb at 11:16 AM on April 1, 2015


« Older Shameless (US): Frank the Plum...   |  Podcast: Judge John Hodgman: H... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments