“Slow Horses” season 3 features more mayhem, same amount of Gary Oldman farting

The producers of the British spy show say new espionage adventure is "most action-led so far."

The first two seasons of the British spy show Slow Horses centered on Slough House, the grim London office building where Gary Oldman's unpleasant and flatulent Jackson Lamb rules over his band of MI5 rejects and losers. The premiere of season 3 opens in Istanbul where new characters played by Fantastic Beasts franchise actress Katherine Waterston and Gangs of London star Sope Dirisu are featured in the kind of sexy, tense, and ultimately lethal sequence which could be part of a James Bond movie.

"It was designed to take you out of the Slough House world for a minute," says executive producer Hakan Kousetta. "It's a bit more James Bond-esque in its DNA. You remember that we're not forever in the Slough House world of decrepitness and failure. They're part of a bigger thing."

<p>Apple TV+</p> 'Slow Horses'

Apple TV+

'Slow Horses'

Rest assured, Slow Horses fans. Season 3 doesn't stray too far for too long from Real Tigers, the third book in Mick Herron's series of novels about Lamb and his bickering band of spies or "joes," to use the term preferred in the author's adventures. Once the Istanbul sequence is concluded the action, if that's the right word, picks up back at Slough House, where Jack Lowden's disgraced agent River Cartwright is undertaking a far more pedestrian mission: loading boxes of files into a van.

"What River yearns to be is Sope in Istanbul doing proper derring-do and he's forever messing around with boxes," says Kousetta's fellow EP Jamie Laurenson.

Things are even worst for Rosalind Eleazar's Louisa Guy, who is still mourning last season's murder of her coworker-turned-lover Min Harper (Dustin Demri-Burns).

"Louisa is carrying the grief of Min from the end of the second season," says Laurenson. "There's a wound that she's carrying that is significant and burns through this story. I think that's what I love about the world that Mick Herron creates, he's prepared to shock you by pulling the rug, and losing a favorite character, but he doesn't forget the consequences of doing that to the people who care for those people."

As usual, the Slough House team — which also includes Saskia Reeves' Catherine Standish, Aimee-Ffion Edwards' Shirley Dander, Kadiff Kirwan's Marcus Longridge, and Christopher Chung's tech wizard Roddy Ho — does become involved in a situation where paper cuts are far from the worst danger. Lawrenson explains that a new investigation gets kicked off "when one of the Slow Horses becomes the target of a kidnap. This season begins with the conundrum of how do they rescue one of their number and then things get much more complicated."

<p>Apple TV+</p> 'Slow Horses'

Apple TV+

'Slow Horses'

Some of those complications involve the character played by Dirisu. "[He] is somebody who is, for large parts of this season, the chief antagonist in our story," says Laurenson, "but there is kind of burning within him, an indignation and a righteousness, that you hopefully want to get to the bottom of and want to understand more about."

The investigation is, naturally, led by Oldman's slobbish Lamb whose undisguised loathing for his staff is bested only by his sense of protectiveness over them.

"His joy is in the consistency of his vileness," says Laurenson. "But what's wonderful for Gary to play, and for us to see, is there's an intelligence and an inner spine of decency linked to a loyalty to his 'joes.' Beyond the farting and the bad behavior, there's a steely kind of honesty that stands apart from a lot of the world that he's dealing with, and a lot of the world as we're living it today, really."

<p>Apple TV+</p> 'Slow Horses'

Apple TV+

'Slow Horses'

This season, viewers will see more of "The Park," the MI5 headquarters which are ruled by Sophie Okenodo's spy chief Ingrid Tearney and her underlings, including Kristin Scott Thomas' Diana Taverner.

"What is fun is, it very much becomes the story of a power struggle at the top of the organization," says Laurenson. "We have two wonderful actresses in Sophie Okenedo and Kristin Scott Thomas [whose characters are] kind of vying for the top desk there, which was great fun to explore."

The show's third season is directed by Saul Metzstein, whose credits include Doctor Who and the 2001 comedy Late Night Shopping. Kousetta hints that the filmmaker has overseen some explosive action unrelated to Jackson Lamb's digestive tract.

"We're very lucky that each season is directed by one director, so there's a real authorship opportunity each time," says Kousetta. "Even though they're inheriting the casting, and the set-up of the show, they're able to bring their take on it each time. I think Saul's done an incredible job to help elevate the show into a bit more of a thrill ride. When you see the later episodes, the action really does ramp up, and he's done a brilliant job with that."

The Slow Horses producers have already shot a fourth season, with new cast members including Matrix star Hugo Weaving, Joanna Scanlan, Ruth Bradley, Tom Brooke, and James Callis.

"Season 3 probably is the most action-led of the seasons so far and that continues to escalate into season 4," says Laurenson. "Season 4 is, in brief, the most personally involving story for River Cartwright of all the seasons. It's River's story on a kind of emotional level, more than any of them so far."

The season 3 premiere of Slow Horses is now screening on Apple TV+. Watch the season's trailer below.

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