London Spy

London Spy Netflix

This is a fantastic series.

We’ve been on a losing streak. “Stranger,” that Korean show I was telling you about? It was interesting, but just didn’t deliver, and it took sixteen episodes to get to the end of the first season! The cinematography was great, Seoul was intriguing, but it took so long to get to the ultimate culprit that I wasn’t sure I cared. We started the second season, because sometimes there’s an improvement, but the premise was even more implausible than the first, so we bolted.

To “The Forgotten,” “Les Revenants” in French. Word of mouth was so good that I took a chance, even though I’ve got no time for zombies or fantasy…people recommend these shows to me all the time, and once something comes out of the woods, once the special effects show up, I’m done. I need truth. Gimme some truth.

And there’s a lot of truth in “London Spy.”

Having said that, one caveat, the ending is not as satisfying as the rest of the show. Which is too often the case with these series. Nothing can supersede, or even equal, the buildup. However, when it was all done, and I was thinking about it, I felt better about the ending. But your mileage may vary.

We’re used to entertainments. A night away from this harried life. That is not what “London Spy” is all about. Sure, it’s entertaining, but there’s social commentary and wisdom and they don’t dominate, but they lift this series above the run-of-the-mill stuff that you watch and you forget.

Like how you dress. How you handle yourself. That’s more important than money. I thought I knew money until I went to Middlebury College. Grow up in the suburbs and somebody has a Cadillac, they vacation in the Virgin Islands, they’ve got all the new toys, you think they’re rich, but they’re not rich at all.

Now rich has changed. When I was growing up rich was inherited, now rich is made, and it’s tilted the playing field. But in the days of yore, the rich were not showy, but they were very judgmental. They read the cues. And to play you had to learn how to read the cues too.

Never ever boast. Don’t tell people what you own, where you’ve been, it’s déclassé. Your image is not based on your acquisitions, your car, your house, it’s based on heritage and knowing how to navigate the canals of power.

Which most people never learn. They believe if they’re bulls in a china shop they can succeed. But oftentimes the doors are closed to them.

Who really runs this country?

Used to be they were faceless. Now they’ve come out of the woodwork, in most cases reluctantly, but their goal is to get no publicity, as they move the chess pieces.

This is what Donald Trump hates. He’s spent his entire life trying to be accepted by this group, and he has not. They abhor crass. And they’re smart enough to know if you venture into the public eye you’re going to get scrutiny, which is never wanted. Would the “New York Times” be looking into Trump’s taxes if he wasn’t president? Of course not, they never had previously.

“What county in the United States has the highest rate of tax audits?

The answer is Humphreys County in rural Mississippi, where three-quarters of the population is Black and more than one-third lives below the poverty line.”

“Who’s the Tax Cheat: The Lady in Jail or the Man in the White House”

They demonize taxes, tell you it’s your money, as they demonize the broke for not paying income taxes, although they’re paying a wealth of other taxes which sustain our society. But the rich and faceless are the real winners here. As evidenced by the quote above. It’s laughable on its face. But the IRS has been neutered, by elected officials beholden to the wealthy class.

And Danny shows his sketchbook to Scottie, it evidences a wealth of talent, but Scottie criticizes him, for bouncing around from image to narrative to poetry… Scottie says to pick one and double-down on it. He tells Danny he’s waiting for someone to recognize his talent, and that’s a fool’s errand, you’ve got to focus and blaze your own path.

To this day most people have no idea how you gain success. They think talent is enough. They butter up the underlings with big titles who are unable to make a decision. Very few can make it to the top and the road is so hard that if most actually saw it they’d stop.

Relationships… Do you want them so much that you avoid them? Do you privately pray that someone will notice you while you try to perfect the image of needing no one?

And how many people can you truly count on. If you’re lucky, one.

And most people don’t make it to the top anyway. Because of a misstep, because those in power don’t want them to. The game is oftentimes bigger than the players, like the music business, they don’t need your music to succeed, they just need SOME music to succeed!

And how important are you anyway? Does your little life truly matter in this fast-moving world?

And is it about truth or expediency. If you stand up to the system can you win?

And what are you willing to risk. Danny’s got nothing, so he’s willing to take chances that someone with a big CV will not. And some of those chances lead to big rewards and some of them ultimately prove fatal. But when you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose. Which is why today it’s the broke who break down barriers. Those in the upper middle class and above are so inured to their education, are playing it so safe, that they’re ripe for being blown out of the water.

But don’t underestimate the power of money, never.

So, “London Spy” can be slow. But just as you start to get bored, there’s an unforeseen twist.

And Danny may not be educated, but he’s street smart, he trusts his intuition, and that’s often the key to success more than education.

The system is stacked against you. And if you raise your head, anything can happen. Get press and you can lose your job, never mind the press rarely getting it completely accurate, after all that’s not their business, their business is selling ads, papers and subscriptions. They just need grist for the mill. They’ll swarm you today and forget you tomorrow.

And if you’re in a pinch do you have someone to call? Who’ll call up an attorney to show up and keep your ass out of jail? You can’t make it in this life without friends, literally, no way.

So there are only five hour-long episodes.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention Charlotte Rampling. With no plastic surgery, she’s better and more believable than all the Hollywood actresses who’ve ruined their faces out of peer pressure, believing if they don’t look young they cannot work.

Like I said, “London Spy” is not a huge commitment. But you’ll find yourself plowing through the episodes. And unlike a typical American, you won’t be talking while the show plays out, you’ll be riveted, you’re drawn into the mood, the life.

Hell, watch one episode and then make your commitment, or not. That’s what I hate about recommendations. If you don’t know the kind of show I like…well, I told you above…supernatural, zombies, they’re not my thing. But they may be your thing, and you might hate “London Spy.”

But if you’re a student of the game, of life, of choices, of getting ahead, you’ll be transfixed. You’ll think about the show after the screen goes dark. You won’t be able to resist clicking to the next episode.

Oh, and Alex revealing his truth to Danny?? That’s what we’re looking for in a relationship, in life, someone to tell our truth to, who will accept us, not only warts and all, but inexperience and all.

“London Spy” was a surprise. The “New York Times” recommended it eons ago, it’s on the list I keep in Apple Notes. It wasn’t even in my must-see category (yes, I do that much research). But there was enough positive response to give it a chance.

I’m so glad I did.

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