Smiley's People: Part 5
May 7, 2015 12:29 PM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

George Smiley finally has the whole story, and now must work to put a plan in place. Circus Chief Saul Enderby takes Maude for a spin around the "garden," earning his cold shoulder from Part 4 and blessing him with his totally-deniable approval of the plan to snare Karla (as well as free access to the Reptile Fund). Commence file-digging with Peter Guillam, target-shadowing with Toby Esterhase, and totally ignoring Oliver Lacon at dinner.

For those of you following along on the PBS or Acorn Media cuts, this episode begins with watching Kirov's confession in Saul's office and ends with a green light. Let's go!
posted by carsonb (6 comments total)
Barry Foster gives us a thoroughly unlikeable Saul Enderby: patronising, chauvinistic, pompous, vain. Although he does serve the useful purpose (for the first-time viewer) in summarising the story so far. Enderby is also given a dig at the state of the British economy: ‘At the current rate of inflation, blackmail’s about the only thing that holds its value’ (just as Kretzschmar had one in part 3: ‘You English are poor these days: too many Trade Unions!’)

I liked Smiley’s oblique acknowledgement of Enderby’s baiting about the matter of the cigarette lighter : ‘It was just an ordinary Ronson. Still, they were made to last, weren’t they?’

Lacon, for all his oblivious blithering, lands a single inadvertent verbal punch with his parting observation ‘You know if Ann had been your agent instead of your wife, you’d probably have run her very well.’

I wasn’t sure where Smiley’s train journey was supposed to have taken him (I guessed Scotland at first), but then I noticed his taxi’s sign has ‘Truro’ on it, and recalled that Le Carré likewise has a home in Cornwall.

While George doesn’t exactly shrink back from Ann’s welcoming kiss, neither does he lean into it. He looked to me folornly out of place out in the fresh air in his borrowed coat & boots: he’s evidently a town mouse at heart. George’s killer line to Ann, while doubtless not undeserved, is hurtfully distant and cold ‘Well… It’s widely known within the intelligence fraternity - on all sides - that you used to be dear to me.’ Ouch.

(By the way - and based on the books rather than the shows, but I enjoyed this blog post about George & Ann’s marriage.)

George’s wide-eyed expression when back in the empty safe-house after burning the negative evoked for me a sense of ‘too late to stop now’ apprehension.

Seeing the blue Renault 4 that George & Toby get into in Berne after their ride in the orange Volvo reminded me how remarkably ugly those cars were…

—I’m waiting for Mr. Jacobi. I’ll have a café crème in a glass please.
—If it comes in a glass you must have schnapps with it.
—A cup will do just as well.

Is that spy-to-spy authentication-speak à la ‘The red fox trots quietly at midnight’ or just a very stilted beverage order?

‘My name is Tatiana, and I come from the moon.’

That’s quite a hefty slap the nun gives Tatiana when she freaks out after Grigoriev’s departure.

Thanks to the IMDB trivia page I learned (I’d had no idea) that Curd Jürgens (the General) and Michael Lonsdale (Grigoriev) had both played Bond villains in, respectively, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.
posted by misteraitch at 4:55 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

"Ipswich? Cold bloody spot to pray!"

I have to say that although Saul is totally insufferable personality-wise, he does at least seem to be on top of his brief. He analyses the material, offers George all the help he can, and covers the wider interests of the Circus if things go pear-shaped - you couldn't really ask for much more from the Chief.

Toby seems to be having a whale of a time too, and is entirely competent in his work - even if you have to wonder about his "special prices".

Love the squiffy Smiley and Lacon at dinner ("I'm bigger than he is!"), and yes Lacon's parting line is totally on the money. But that's George's character, isn't it. Life's such a mystery to him.

That’s quite a hefty slap the nun gives Tatiana when she freaks out after Grigoriev’s departure.

That's the enlightened western treatment that she had to be smuggled out of the USSR to receive!
posted by sobarel at 1:07 PM on May 8, 2015

The meeting might be my favorite thing. Foster's Enderby is delightfully despicable. George doesn't like his scotch, spends a full two minutes making faces at it before reluctantly dipping in.

So what is Karla up to? Giving himself a pension? I mean! We all want a bit to retire on, but jeepers! Has he got a bird somewhere? Who's worth ten grand a month in his whole damn career?!

It's simply a question of whether your service wants the product. Personally I can't see that anything else is of any importance.

George does not tell the Circus the whole story, the parts Connie remembered about Tatiana. Going soft in his old age indeed, the whole idea is to shame Karla into coming to the West but dammit George isn't gonna do it with a dope like Saul Enderby. Dangling "the product" —Karla in an interrogation room—in front of Saul is enough to distract him from the booooring deeeetails.

Funny seeing the different groups of "Smiley's People" come together, like Peter Guillam and Toby Esterhase jousting for George's attention in the research flat. The research, the details, the tradecraft, George is clearly delighted to be diving into his confrontation with Karla.

The way Lady Anne greets George, dropping the kindling for her daily flame just wherever and rushing over to give him a kiss, is their relationship in a nutshell. He subsequently drops her down a hole.

Is that spy-to-spy authentication-speak à la ‘The red fox trots quietly at midnight’ or just a very stilted beverage order?

I think George Smiley out in the real world (like at a cafe, ordering schnapps) is easily discombobulated.
posted by carsonb at 8:30 AM on May 9, 2015

Foster's Enderby is delightfully despicable. George doesn't like his scotch, spends a full two minutes making faces at it before reluctantly dipping in.

I dread to think what he'd make of Judi Dench's M drinking, horror of horrors, bourbon.
posted by sobarel at 9:26 AM on May 9, 2015

After George’s comments about Enderby to Connie and Ann. and his annoyance at the ‘rogue elephant’ remark, we’re prepared for his disdain for the man when they meet. I wonder about their back-story: I don’t recall Enderby featurning in Tinker, Tailor…: sobarel, do Smiley and Enderby clash heads in The Honourable Schoolboy? I imagine Enderby is alluding to past conflicts in the meeting when he says ‘You’re bloody forgiving these days aren’t you George? […] bloody meek too.’

Another tangential James Bond connection: Lucy Fleming, who plays Molly Meakin, is Ian Fleming’s niece.
posted by misteraitch at 3:27 AM on May 11, 2015

It's been years since I read The Honourable Schoolboy, and it's not one I've felt much like revisiting, so the details are a little vague...

But, yes, Enderby is the "Atlantic Man" who uses the botched operation against Karla in The Honourable Schoolboy to unseat Smiley and maneuver himself into his place. He's helped into the role at least in part by collusion between disgruntled Circus operatives (Sam Collins, whose part in Smiley's People has been rolled into the Strickland character) and the CIA, with the tacit backing of Lacon.

In a sense it's just the way the wind is blowing (the diminished role of Britain, and the Circus, in the world is a big theme in all these books) and George is Yesterday's Man, but it's his poor judgment and obsession with Karla that accelerate the process.
posted by sobarel at 5:27 AM on May 11, 2015

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