Reviewed by Kate McMillan
Tom Quinn is a spy.
This not-so-simple fact, and the conflict it implies, drives the action and emotion of this BBC import.
Tom - alias Matthew, alias Davy Crockett, aliases ad infinitum - leads a young team bearing such likeness to the MOD Squad as cannot but be intentional. But Tom (Matthew MacFadyen), Danny (David Oyelowo), and Zoe (Keeley Hawes) aren't infiltrating local high schools to break up teenage drug rings. No, they're infiltrating local high schools in the interest of national security as members of Her Majesty's Secret Service.
However, in this case similarity does not equate with predictability. MI-5's pace is consistently quick; its storylines are suspenseful and engaging. And, while rather young to have the fate of their nation - and sometimes ours - resting on their shoulders, these agents are adults struggling with adult issues. (Zoe infiltrated the aforementioned school as a teacher.) The agents are frequently faced with no-win situations and, surprisingly, do not always contrive a way to win them, after all.
Nor does MI-5 present a sanitized, good-versus-evil worldview. It is often difficult to determine just who the good guys are. Even the show's heroes are seriously flawed. Everyone has something to hide; it's an occupational hazard.
Much of the show's drama stems from the emotional quagmire of Tom's relationships, personal and professional. From his standoff with the icy female CIA operative to his girlfriend's anger at his deceptions, no relationship is simple for a man whose character is defined by the secrets he keeps.
If you like intrigue and suspense, you will like MI-5. If you learn to care about Tom Quinn, you'll love it.
MI-5 airs Tuesdays and Saturdays on A&E.
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