‘Slow Horses’ delves into the less glamorous side of espionage, following the secondary team of the British MI5 that is relegated to the rambling old Slough House branch. Agent River Cartwright, fresh off a spectacularly failed training exercise, finds himself under the cynical and sadistic Slough House head, Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman), who gives the young agent the most menial of tasks.
However, a horrific kidnapping and the threat of a brutal execution prompt the team at Slough House into action even as Lamb tries to contain his underlings and force them to carry out business as usual. The mix of dry British humor and clumsy espionage, all with a truly grim plot unfolding in the background, makes for an intriguing watch. Let’s take a closer look at ‘Slow Horses’ episodes 1 and 2 to get a grip on everything that’s going on. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Slow Horses Episodes 1 and 2 Recap
Episode 1 opens with River Cartwright failing an elaborate training exercise, possibly due to an error by his colleague who is subsequently promoted to the MI5 headquarters, while River finds himself relegated to Slough House. Jackson Lamb doesn’t try to hide his disdain for the young agent, saying that the only reason he has a position at MI5 is because of his grandfather, David Cartwright, who was an illustrious agent in his day. River, therefore, finds himself on the trail of a disgraced right-wing journalist named Robert Hobden, having to go through his garbage as part of his detective work.
River’s colleague, Sid Baker, is better liked by the Slough Houser boss for her more tactful approach to espionage but also finds herself largely relegated to lackluster assignments. It also remains a mystery why a competent agent like Sid has been banished to Slough House. Also assigned to Robert Hobden, she manages to steal the data from his USB stick, only to realize that the journalist is smarter than he lets on and has some serious security measures (and decoys, like the USB stick) in place.
Meanwhile, a young stand-up comic named Hassan Ahmed is kidnapped after performing at a small club, and a video of him being held hostage by a group that calls itself the Sons of Albion appears online. Even as MI5 buzzes into activity trying to locate Hassan, River sets off on his own to try and uncover the plot.
Slow Horses Episode 2 Ending: Is Sid Baker Dead or Alive?
Meanwhile, Hassan’s kidnappers are revealed to be a right-wing hate group. Their leader claims to have fought in Afghanistan and seems to hold a deep disdain for immigrants. In between news coverage of Hassan’s hostage video, which quickly receives over a million views, we are also introduced to a right-wing politician named Peter Judd. To top it all, the kidnappers threaten to behead Hassan the following morning on live video to show their “nationalistic spirit.”
River and Sid, realizing Robert Hobden might know something about the kidnapping because of his past affiliations, start keeping a closer eye on him. Sitting in a car outside the journalist’s house, Sid finally reveals that she is at Slough House because she has been tasked with keeping an eye on River, leaving the latter shocked. Just then, a masked intruder enters Hobden’s house and attacks him. In the ensuing scuffle, when the agents intervene, Sid is shot.
Episode 2 closes on a dramatic note, not only because River finds out that Sid has been stationed at the decrepit Slough House to keep an eye on him but also because of the sudden escalation in violence that finds the latter grievously wounded. As River frantically calls for medical assistance, he mentions that she’s been shot in the head, making things look pretty grim for Slough House’s most efficient agent (who also happens to be Jackson Lamb’s favorite).
Sadly, it looks like Sid might just be dead. This would also make the show’s plot more intriguing because she has just shared an explosive piece of information with River. Thus, with Sid gone, our flustered protagonist now knows that the MI5 is actively keeping an eye on him, one of their own own. Apart from trying to solve Hassan’s kidnapping and Hobden’s role in it, and with Sid likely dead, River now has to figure out why she was assigned the task of watching over him. The mystery deepens.
Does Hassan Ahmed Escape Or Is He Killed?
The last that we see of Hassan he seems to have found a way to escape from his brutish kidnappers. Since he knows that he is to be executed the following day, we know that Hassan is desperate to escape. His abductors, with the possible exception of the former military man, also don’t seem very experienced in holding a hostage. Thus, it seems pretty likely that Hassan does eventually escape.
There is also a chance that Hassan is unable to escape, but River (or another agent) is able to locate him before the execution, possibly with information from Hobden. At the moment, seeing the slightly humorous tone of the show, it is doubtful that an execution on live television will play out anytime soon. Thus, in all probability, Hassan will not be killed.