Smiley's People: Part 4
April 30, 2015 11:05 AM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Sleepless and relentless, Smiley races across West Germany and finally tracks down Otto Leipzig. He's still a step behind Karla for now, but with a flurry of aliases and feints and a little—OK a lot of help from Peter Guillam (Michael Byrne) all of the bits scattered by the death of General Vladimir are finally being swept up into one place.

For those of you watching the PBS or Acorn Media (DVD-1) cut, this episode begins with George Smiley driving that horrendous green car out to the address given him by Claus Kretzschmar and ends with Saul Enderby (Barry Foster) ordering Strickland to shut the door.
posted by carsonb (11 comments total)
 
I'm pretty sure (and little bits and dark corners of the Internets agree) that Smiley mis-attributes his quote to Goethe:

Was it Goethe who said, "I must sleep, but you must dance?" Or was it the other way around?

Though he does indeed get the quote correct, likelier the attribution should go to Theodor Storm, from his poem Hyacinths. It's plausible that Smiley is finally losing his edge a bit as he's beleaguered and practically passing out at the time of his recital, but I also wonder if it wasn't a mistake on LeCarré's part.
posted by carsonb at 11:26 AM on April 30, 2015


that horrendous green car

That's an Opel! They were everywhere in Germany when I was a kid.

"Here is the family Kretzschmar about its pleasures!"
posted by sobarel at 12:47 PM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Here is the family Kretzschmar about its pleasures!"

You can usually tell when dialog is direct from the book.
posted by carsonb at 1:33 PM on April 30, 2015


And poor old George. Having to endure a German sex club last week, and now getting accosted by some weirdo punks - this really isn't the world as he knows or would like it.

On that subject - is that a band poster on the wall in Saul's office? The sort of psychedelic affair you can see as they're wheeling in the TV? No wonder George wouldn't shake his hand.
posted by sobarel at 1:55 PM on April 30, 2015


Smiley’s pistachio green hire car is, specifically, a 1978 Opel Rekord. Guillam’s ‘perfectly revolting little car’ is a 1981 Porsche 924.

Smiley clambering awkwardly on to the rowing boat at the water camp struck me as the ideal moment to have had him say ‘I’m too old for this shit!’

It seemed to me that Smiley’s tradecraft combined again with a stroke of luck to have him find the fishing line (and hence the shoe and the torn postcard inside), that Leipzig’s ‘visitors from the East’ had failed to discover. He shows considerable sang-froid in casually taking his discovery back inside the cabin that he’d reeled out of moments before.

I thought Tessy Kuhls (great name) did a fine job of putting a bit of character into her very brief appearance as Frau Kretzschmar.

When Smiley is telling Herr Kretzschmar about the significance of Leipzig’s material he claims ‘It will do worse than kill him [Karla]’. Does he really believe this, I wonder, or is he just saying it for Kretzschmar’s benefit? Could Kretzschmar himself be in danger at this point, being a known associate of Leipzig’s? Who is George hoping to confuse with the decoy flight booking? Karla’s goons? The West German police? Does anyone even know he’s travelling under the name Standfast?

George in his borrowed leather coat resembles a superannuated Gestapo officer. Ostrakova could have been forgiven not letting him in…

At Guillam’s apartment, Smiley writes Kirov’s name down, rather than say it out loud, on learning that the ‘ferrets’ hadn’t been in for a while. Oughtn’t they have taken pains to conceal more of their conversation from potential eavesdroppers—why only the ginger pig’s name?

I loved Smiley’s expression of indignant outrage when Guillam relays Enderby’s use of the term ‘rogue elephant’ to him.

Enderby’s unreciprocated handshake was a nice touch. I didn’t recognise any of the prints/posters on the wall of the office/conference room at the end.
posted by misteraitch at 1:40 AM on May 1, 2015


Thinking about it more, I imagine the abandoned Opel would have been hired under the name Standfast, and could easily be linked to the scene of Leipzig’s murder: George must have been most concerned about the police wanting to have a word with him.
posted by misteraitch at 2:06 AM on May 2, 2015


I wonder where exactly the Opel came from? George clearly planned to use it all the while, even before going to visit Toby in Part 3. (He grabs his Standfast IDL as well as the UK passport.) Then a wait at the ferry dock to shake any potential tails, and then he gets to Germany somehow, and somehow has the car.

It seemed to me that Smiley’s tradecraft combined again with a stroke of luck to have him find the fishing line (and hence the shoe and the torn postcard inside), that Leipzig’s ‘visitors from the East’ had failed to discover.

They literally tore everything Leipzig owned apart (including his entire vehicle) looking for Kirov's confession. What they missed were the Moscow Rules. You can see the fishing line hanging from the boat before he even climbs aboard, plus it was facing the shore so everyone living there knew Otto was storing something overboard. Notice how they laugh when George pulls the shoe out of the water? They probably watched Otto put it there, and laughed, and watched the "Police" pull it out and throw it back. They didn't see the chalk, all they saw was a shitty shoe, probably a joke. It was lucky that George found the yellow chalk so quickly, but he probably would have searched the boat pretty thoroughly looking for MR clues.

Ugh, the reveal of Otto's corpse is shocking without being too gory. But his head in the foreground there, lolling into focus, just ugh.

When Smiley is telling Herr Kretzschmar about the significance of Leipzig’s material he claims ‘It will do worse than kill him [Karla]’. Does he really believe this, I wonder, or is he just saying it for Kretzschmar’s benefit? Could Kretzschmar himself be in danger at this point, being a known associate of Leipzig’s?

Well since the battle between Smiley and Karla has long since been boiled down to a thought exercise in ideology, I think Smiley really believes that he's found a way to defeat that ideology and so yes, that would be worse than death. He's pretty cold and direct with Kretzschmar so I doubt that he said that just for the grieving man's benefit. As for his safety, Claus has his people, these are dangerous times, he's not a nobody that can be caught out or needs to hide somewhere. Anyway, he doesn't really know anything, he's just a reliable friend of Leipzig.

Who is George hoping to confuse with the decoy flight booking?

Ricky Tarr proved that Moscow Center has a pretty direct line on international travelers' passports in Tinker Tailor.

I always forget to mention this, but we meet Tatiana in this episode for just a moment.
posted by carsonb at 8:37 AM on May 2, 2015


Smiley clambering awkwardly on to the rowing boat at the water camp struck me as the ideal moment to have had him say ‘I’m too old for this shit !’

It made me think of the last time I went fishing with my grandfather. 'Old men in little boats' has a sweet spot of sentimentality for me.
posted by carsonb at 9:49 AM on May 2, 2015


I think by the time we first see the Opel (in episode 3), George is already in Hamburg, driving up to the place from where Villem embarked on his boat trip in episode 1 to pick up the negative from Otto. In any case it has German plates - specifically Hamburg ones (the ‘HH’ prefix denotes Hansestadt Hamburg). I assumed he’d hired the car locally.
posted by misteraitch at 11:41 AM on May 3, 2015


Anyone care to point out which Guillam is their favorite Guillam?
posted by carsonb at 6:43 PM on May 4, 2015


I saw Smiley’s People long before I caught up with Tinker, Tailor…, so my default Guillam is Michael Byrne. However, I can’t say I’ve a particular preference for his Guillam over Michael Jayston’s. As to my least favourite Guillam, that’s much easier to answer: Benedict Cumberbatch’s attempt at him in the Tinker, Tailor… movie.
posted by misteraitch at 7:57 AM on May 5, 2015


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