Spyder's Web: Nobody's Strawberry Fool
J. Smith uses his most unusual communication to date in this one: a child's colouring book. I particularly like the image of a flying coffin. This is another example of the light touch used in this programme to handle some fairly weighty subjects, in this case the recovery of the body of Hubert Anstruther, lost in the Alps since 1914, & lost in transit to London.
As a relatively straightforward detective/spy story this works very well, & the division between Lottie's & Hawksworth's roles effectively provides the variety of two plot threads at once. The mentions of strawberries & the Gourmet Emporium as having an involvement in the case help to provide an Avengers feel to the episode. Other than that, visually the epsiode almost looks in many ways like a pastiche of 1960s spy shows - the repeated night scenes, even the setting of the airport. It is prevented from coming across as too gritty by the lightness of touch with which it is handled. Unusually for Spyder's Web there is a shoot-out at the end
Lottie desperately tries to go it alone in this episode, even trying to pull the wool over Hawksworth's eyes & fails miserably, in this episode. This allows them to function more as individuals. Hawksworth's chat with a spy he recognises from his Exportease days is amusing, & serves to stress that Hawksworth was & remains head & shoulders above his colleagues at Exportease. The mere fact that his ex-colleague combines one last spying job with seeing his wife off on a plane with the children does not bode well for his professionalism as a spy!
Lottie goes back into her confidante role with a relative of the deceased in this one, & in her relationships with the other Arachnid workers it is apparent that Wallis knows something is going on. It is obviously a regular thing for Lottie to run the show while at least partially keeping the others in the dark, since Wallis also tries to talk to Hawksworth about what she is doing at one point, clearly assuming he won't know. Lottie's assurance of touch when it comes to intelligence becomes apparent when we see that she has bugged her phone & recorded Hawksworth's conversation - surely he should be wary of that sort of thing? In a sense there's a role reversal here, since she suddenly becomes the person of action.
My favourite exchange from this episode -
Hawksworth: I've had a thought about this missing body.
Lottie: I'm not interested in the missing body.
Hawksworth:Then why are you chatting up its granddaughter?
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