Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Part 7 - Flushing Out The Mole
April 2, 2015 11:28 AM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Smiley springs his trap and then goes about picking up the pieces and putting The Circus back together. Poor George! Life is such a puzzle to you, isn't it? - Lady Ann
posted by carsonb (13 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
In today's terms the denouement of this series is epic in its length, but it is actually a study in economic storytelling. As in the rest of the series, every shot brings another piece into the story. Even the things omitted help explain, finally, what is going on!?

George recites a short list of people whose whereabouts on the night in question need to be accounted for: Those in the room (George himself, Lacon, Alleline, Esterhase, Bland, Guillam) as well as Fawn, Mendel, Ricky Tarr. One other person knew about the mole but is most conspicuously omitted from the list. I'm pretty certain that means then, given George's interview with the mole and specifically the questions about Operation Testify, Smiley thought the mole had it coming and the culprit deserved to get away with it.
posted by carsonb at 11:41 AM on April 2, 2015


John le Carre on Philip Seymour Hoffman in the adaptation of his book A Most Wanted Man which is banned in Gitmo.

John le Carré: 'I was a secret even to myself' - "After a decade in the intelligence service, John le Carré's political disgust and personal confusion 'exploded' in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Fifty years later he asks how much has changed "

The Spies who lost it. What was George Smiley, anyway?

thoughts later.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:02 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Little moments:

-Mendel's "Cheeky!" He's only a minor player but, like Fawn, benefits from a characterful performance.
-Guillam runs like a girl.
-Toby moves from standing behind Alleline to behind Smiley as the tape plays. "Congratulations George". Always wants to ingratiate himself to the winning side does our Tobes.
-The exquisite awkwardness when Fawn announces the Inquisitors have arrived.
-The way the camera snaps into focus as Haydon falls out of that hut at Sarrat. Oh god.
-"She gets around". After all this time it's George who gets to make the bad joke about Ann. Then turning to the painting that Bill "fancied".
-"Point?" "Point."
posted by sobarel at 2:59 PM on April 2, 2015


Let's not pretend we're not nervous.
I think this is the first time we've seen Smiley with a gun.

Taxi to the door. Slipping, heedless, or extremely overconfident.

And with the request for Scotch, George's jaw sets, and we know who it is, too. I love the contrast between George's slow stalk and Peter's mad dash.

Bill puts up a good facade, but his repetition of "George" and backhanded compliments show that he's rattled.

Lacon is serious, Toby is pensive, Percy is shocked as we watched his career flash before his eyes, and Bland is furious. Toby's little repositioning and show of support. He's a weathervane, in a ridiculous shirt and tie.

George takes charge and Percy goes along.

HERO. A fanatic. Like Karla.

Bill looks somewhat the worse for wear after the inquisitors get ahold of him. Watch his chest as George interrogates him. Like a cornered rabbit. "I still believe the secret services are the only real expression of a nation's character." It's true - like the "who you are in the dark" which reminds me of the refrain from Person of Interest: "we're walking in the dark," which turns into "we are the dark."

I wonder why they went after Bill, and not, say George, if they fabricated a Czech situation. George's slow "that was good of you" is as sarcastic as he gets.

"You had this one weak spot." That's how Karla thinks of people, whereas George looks at people's worldview, their system-of-thinking. And it provides the key, since people are terrible at mentally modeling other people. Karla will be defeated by his one weak spot, and George could be defeated through the destruction or inversion of his worldview - but it seems pretty robust!

"The King James Version's uses of the noun "shew" usually connote appearance in contrast to reality."

The men who wear hats are wearing bowlers and homburgs. George's, when he sees Ann, it particularly ill-fitting. Formality doesn't suit him.


This is fun!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:54 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Such a great show. I watched this, then listened to the audiobook, then watched the movie. After all of that prior exposure, the movie just resonated so deeply. One of my top three movie going experiences. I have read almost everything by LeCarre and am ashamed I haven't read this yet.
posted by mecran01 at 9:10 PM on April 2, 2015


Bill looks somewhat the worse for wear after the inquisitors get ahold of him. Watch his chest as George interrogates him. Like a cornered rabbit.

It's a tour de force performance from Ian Richardson. After the show of blase bluster in the Camden safe house he sits in that bed with his legs drawn up like a child, overcome by emotion. He must have rehearsed this moment of discovery in his mind hundreds of times, but he's now facing the reality of his life in England being at an end - and further ministrations at the hands of the Inquisitors.

He pulls himself together enough for a little speech of self-justification - "you know what's killing western democracy George?" - but it's not until later we see him recovered: boastful and vain ("I'd have been wasted as Chief. Could have done it of course!") and trying to score one last little victory over George. Even something as silly as stealing his pen would do.

I end up thinking that Ann's analysis of Bill is spot on. He loved being a traitor: loved the feeling of being the smartest person in the room (watch again all those meeting scenes at the Circus!), loved the sense of superiority and importance.
posted by sobarel at 4:15 AM on April 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


the man of twists and turns: I wonder why they went after Bill, and not, say George, if they fabricated a Czech situation.

I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at here, would you mind expanding on it? Is 'they' Moscow Centre? Did you mean Control instead of Bill?

- Bill looks somewhat the worse for wear after the inquisitors get ahold of him.
- ... further ministrations at the hands of the Inquisitors.

I believe him when he says they haven't laid hands on him. George's "Why have you been weeping?" is devestating though. Peter was so apologetic about roughing him up a bit right at first, I doubt any physical harm has come to Bill. Wouldn't be proper. (Then again, the situation is so shoddy at Sarrat maybe the bored (footie, darts) incompetent (followed to the cleaners) minders/inquisitors are having a swing at him here and there.) I think he's just getting nosebleeds from all the cognitive dissonance of having to explain himself, he calls it 'the excitement.' He knows what he did to Jim was beyond terrible. Unforgivable. And he starts to bleed again at the question.
posted by carsonb at 8:45 AM on April 3, 2015


Speaking of Jim, I noticed this time watching that he kisses Bill on the forehead. Woah.
posted by carsonb at 8:50 AM on April 3, 2015


I believe him when he says they haven't laid hands on him.

I do too.


I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at here, would you mind expanding on it?

I meant Jim.
Moscow Centre fabricates a Czech defector/source. For that, Jim Prideaux is the obvious choice, because it his networks, and he speaks Czech. But he's not nearly the threat that Smiley is - which Karla recognizes. Why not fabricate an East German defector, get Smiley drawn in and possibly killed, and eliminate him from the Circus entirely? Or is Smiley a shade too old to be running into the woods, looking for a general.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:51 AM on April 3, 2015


Yeah, Smiley wouldn't have been a candidate for going on that sort of mission, I think. Would have been a job for Peter Guillam or maybe Toby?
posted by carsonb at 8:56 AM on April 3, 2015


I believe him when he says they haven't laid hands on him

Really? I'm bewildered. When Prideaux is watching through the binoculars Haydon basically falls out of the hut at Sarrat, limping, clutching his sides, a cut on his cheek and blood all down his shirt. It seems fairly clear to me that he's suffered some fairly full-on "enhanced interrogation"... and what else would you expect? He's a traitor with the deaths of countless British agents on his hands.

Why else would the gang look so appalled and awkward when Fawn announces the Inquisitors have arrived? (In the book Smiley "shudders" at the mere glimpse of an Inquisitor.) They know what it means, even if they'd prefer to maintain a polite fiction. And Bill's "must just be the excitement of it all" sounds fairly obviously sarcastic to me.
posted by sobarel at 10:08 AM on April 3, 2015


And Bill's "must just be the excitement of it all" sounds fairly obviously sarcastic to me.

Huh, well I'll take any excuse to watch it again for more subtle details. ;)

As for why send Jim and not Smiley, I thought of another, more obvious reason: Smiley was a finalist candidate in Control's mole search so Control never ever would have sent him on a secret mission to capture an East German general (or whatever) to learn the identity of a top-ranking Circus mole. Bill says it, had to be an outsider, but old-school. Karla probably laid out the requirements for who should be sent, someone who had enough knowledge to blow a whole lot of networks (that they already knew about anyway), etc. And Bill suggested Jim.
posted by carsonb at 10:11 AM on April 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Apparently 'showing Ann' at the end was considered a bold move; she never actually appears in the books, is ever only alluded to? It drives me absolutely bonkers that George brings her a necklace at the end. Just seems so incongruous to everything else with George, much like the little hissy fit he throws at the beginning of the series after talking to Roddy Martindale. Then again, if the two of them use gift-giving to balance the books, so to speak, then it would make sense for George to be offering a gift after all of his (unbeknownst to her) stoic-ness in the face of everyone's asking after her in defense of their own transgressions.
posted by carsonb at 7:51 AM on April 4, 2015


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