The Game Review: Pilot

The Game (BBC) is a sophisticated, spy drama that explores the Cold War. After a former KGB officer attempts to defect, he provides the MI5, with information regarding the Soviet’s Operation Glass. The show explores the MI5’s new special committee, which is tasked with investigating the Soviet’s operations. Among the MI5’s team, we have Daddy (Brian Cox), who leads the MI5. Paul Ritter, who plays Bobby Waterhouse, is responsible for maintaining the team’s counter espionage efforts. Of course, it is Joe Lambe, who is played by Tom Hughes, who steals the majority of the scenes. This interrogator insists on maintaining some deep hidden secrets.

During the pilot, we are also introduced to the team’s husband and wife duo, Sarah Montag (Victoria Hamilton) and Alan Montag (Jonathan Aris). Do not forget about the team’s secretary, Wendy Straw (Chloe Pirrie).

The episode starts with Joe Lambe meeting with some KGB agents. It seems things go awry, before anything is accomplished. This seems to be an attempt by Joe and Yulia to escape his life, as an intelligence officer and return to a normal life. This scene took place approximately a year ago.

Near the start of the episode, we get to see Joe and Alan setting up a hotel room, with bugs. It appears the team is preparing to investigate a Soviet spy. As the committee works to unravel the secrets of Operation Glass, the Soviets continue sending former sleeper agents into the country, with some sort of hidden motive. Without a doubt, all of the pieces of the puzzle will be put together, as the show’s plot plays out.

During Joe’s first interrogation, we discover a former Soviet spy, Arkady Malinov, who is willing to provide Joe with information regarding Operation Glass. Arkady explains the Soviets are quickly initiating sleeper agents throughout the country. While the team doesn’t necessarily believe his story and motives, they understand the importance of stopping such from happening. Does Arkady really wish to live out his days after a regular man?

Joe explains his interrogation techniques and reveals he believes Arkady’s story, aside from his reasons for wishing to defect. Bobby Waterhouse (Paul Ritter) explains his concern for Daddy and explains Daddy’s trust for Joe. He suggest that Joe check on Daddy and make sure he is alright.

Jim Fenchurch (Shaun Dooley) explains his distrust for Daddy. Joe and Jim investigate a reawakened spy, who provides them with more information. Joe setups up a simple plan to lure the spies into the spy’s newly rented flat. Before they can leave, the ex-spy, David, is visited by a KGB agent. Joe and Jim hide and listen in on the conversation.

The plot begins to thicken, as Joe sees a sign that an old nemesis, Odin, has returned. This is the man from the flashback, at the beginning of the show. During the scene, Odin is responsible for Yulia’s death. It is likely Joe and Yulia had some type of romantic affair and Joe is going to endlessly pursue Odin.

While the team is supposed to be focusing on investigating Operation Glass, Joe seems transfixed on bringing down Odin. The team sets up David’s flat with bugs. Joe insists David warn him, if Odin is in the room. The crew begin spying on the flat. David is attack, by the KGB agents, who make their escape.

Joe and Jim manage to chase them down and knock down one of them. Of course, Joe isn’t satisfied that it isn’t his old friend and continues his pursuit. Jim gets held hostage, by Odin. Despite his anger for Odin, Joe controls himself and saves Jim’s life, which allows Odin to make his escape.

We see the heart breaking flashback of Yulia being carried into the water, as Joe desperately attempts to escape the van. As the crew returns to David’s flat, they discover David is dead, with his neck slit.

Sarah and Alan discuss their future and Alan admits to hiding, while David was being killed. Alan seems to think he is holding Sarah back from greatness. The team discuss taking Arkady into protective custody. Is there a mole among the group? Is everyone going to begin turning on one another? Daddy explains it is important to let Arkady collect the next name. He insists it is better to risk the few than the many.

Joe tells Daddy about his mistake, which got David killed. We learn about Joe’s history in Poland. Of course, the history that Daddy transcribed for Joe. It seems Joe is in Daddy’s debt. Daddy expressed his deep trust for Joe.

Jim begins asking Joe about the girl. Joe doesn’t seem interested in telling about his secrets. As Joe searches for Izzy, he discovers her bleeding on the door. Apparently, someone killed her on his orders and she declares him a trader. Are the KGB attempting to brand Joe, as a traitor?


If you’re looking for a sophisticated, spy drama, you’ve found it, with BBC’s The Game. The setting is splendid and the cast is marvelous. Of course, it is Tom Hughes, who steals the spotlight. He plays an intriguing and mysterious interrogator perfectly. The pace is swift and deliberate to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. While you’ll need to pay close attention to the show, this is definitely a show worth watching, if you’re willing to put the effort into it.

This strong, Cold War thriller deserves an 8.5 out of 10.

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