‘Slow Horses’ Season 3 Review: This Espionage Series Just Keeps Getting Better
The Big Picture
- The unpredictability of Slow Horses is still one of its best elements in its third season, as the story constantly throws curveballs at you.
- Season 3 explores themes of personal growth and finding purpose, with Jackson Lamb and the other slow horses reassessing their futures and what their status means.
- The new season starts off with a bang, delivering a gripping cold open that hooks viewers with twists and compelling characters in an impossible situation.
One of the best elements of Slow Horses is its unpredictability. You may think you know where the Apple TV+ series is going when, suddenly, curveballs are thrown at you, and you end each season wondering how the heck the story ended up where it did. It’s no different with Season 3. The new batch of episodes elevates the show’s concept, subverts what we think we know about the characters, and also manages to be fun as hell in the process.
- Gary Oldman, Olivia Cooke, Jack Lowden
- Main Genre
- Streaming Service(s)
- Apple TV+
- Release Date
- April 1, 2022
What Is ‘Slow Horses’ Season 3 About?
In the new season, Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman) is starting to come to terms with the fact that he needs to find a way to get over being at Slough House and start thinking about his future and health. The same is true on some levels for the other slow horses, including River Cartwright (Jack Lowden), who’s still on a never-ending quest to prove himself while remaining overwhelmed by the shadows of his own mistakes. But all of that is put on hold when one member of the team is taken hostage. The questions on everyone’s minds are: who in their right mind would target Slough House, and why?
The answer seems to be in the very first scene of the season – a ten-minute short story that reminds us why Slow Horses is one of the best shows on television right now. The cold open delivers twists on top of twists without ever losing sight of the narrative it’s telling. Most important of all, it makes us care about the duo of characters presented and the impossible situation they’re both in. This is as much as can be discussed without spoiling anything, but it ensures that the season kicks off with a bang.
Another great stunt that Slow Horses pulls in Season 3 is using the characters’ backgrounds to elevate the stakes without even needing to state or explain why. At the end of the season’s debut episode “Strange Games,” for example, River receives a distress call, and you can’t help but wonder about the authenticity of it. In past seasons, River’s eagerness to jump to conclusions has made him do reckless things, so could someone be taking advantage of that tendency? At the same time, it’s impossible not to root for him, because you can see how much he cares and how desperately he needs a win.
‘Slow Horses’ Season 3 Makes Us Fall in Love With River and Slough House
On a separate layer, it’s also fun to see River’s desperation to get to the bottom of a case. When you see him running off through the streets of London you inevitably think, “Oh god, there he goes again” with a mix of embarrassment and laugh-out-loud tenderness. This is not lost in Saul Metzstein‘s direction of Episode 2, “Hard Lessons,” which makes it a point of showing passersby’s reactions to River’s rush across the city.
At the same time, it’s also important to note that Slow Horses (as well as showrunner Will Smith) never forgets that all of Jackson Lamb’s team have ended up in the basement of MI-5 for a reason. It’s easy for stories like this to create misfits who are secretly brilliant, but that’s not the case here. Except for Lamb, the slow horses make mistakes, miss things, and disobey chains of command, which often puts them in trouble – and that’s what’s great about following them.
It’s also great that Season 3 of Slow Horses has finally decided to bring the immensely talented Sophie Okonedo to the forefront. The Academy Award nominee was mostly forgotten during Season 1 but now comes back full throttle as the type of character we love to hate. Along with Kristin Scott Thomas’ Diana, they get to play the type of characters that actresses have been demanding for the longest time – cutthroat, unapologetic, unlikable, and powerful figures that men have been able to portray for years. Needless to say, they knock it out of the park.
‘Slow Horses’ Season 3 Is Gripping From Beginning to End
All of that is to say that Season 3 of Slow Horses presents a main story that escalates and derails in the best way possible. Not only does it engagingly involve all characters in the story, but we can also understand and appreciate the personal stakes for everyone, which makes it extremely compelling from beginning to end. To keep that kind of character motivation in the back of the viewer’s mind is incredibly hard to do with a show like this, and yet Slow Horses makes it seem effortless.
The only downside to this new season of Slow Horses is that the previous two taught us that Jackson Lamb and his team live in an extremely dangerous world that can turn on a dime. This certainly happens in the new episodes, but for the last (and incredibly tense) two episodes, there’s a whole Stormtrooper aim situation that’s a little hard to buy after we’ve seen the series be completely merciless towards its own characters. Again, there are plenty of surprises to go around, but luck was never exactly on the slow horses’ side, so for some of them to repeatedly earn bouts of fortune makes it seem as if the show has become a little too attached to some characters to let them go.
Despite this, Slow Horses is still solid entertainment that sustains its extremely bingeable status. It also sends a clear message about the relationship between accountability and the people in power, and how often the consequences of their actions land on someone else, often destroying lives and families. The worst part is that this cycle will keep on going, and there isn’t much that the slow horses – or us, on ultimate analysis – can do to stop it, because they aren’t even invited to the table to discuss how to change a system that vastly underrates them. Yet it remains a thrill to see them try.
The first two episodes of Slow Horses Season 3 are available to watch on Apple TV+ in the U.S. with new episodes releasing weekly on Wednesdays.
Watch on Apple TV+