Loose Ends

British actress .
British actress Hermione Norris: Ros. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PBS is airing MI5 for—what?—the fourth consecutive season? and I’m watching reruns. Again.

Last week, Ros died for the second and presumably last time. Because I’d already seen the episode (often), I used only a half box of tissues. When Adam died, I wept a puddle, but Ros’ original demise prompted a deluge. Now the team is picking up the pieces and moving on with Ros’ replacement, another attractive blonde. I find it impossible to bond with her. I’ve nicknamed her Not-Ros.

I don’t care for explosions and executions and car chases, and if that’s all MI5 had to offer, I’d have turned it off before getting hooked. Interesting characters and tight plots have kept me tuning in. That, and the fact that violence isn’t at the heart of the show: it’s the suspense, the waiting for the clock to tick down, for the bomb to detonate—or not.

And the knowledge that, in the hands of these writers, no character is safe.

Back in the olden days, one thing was certain: when he strode into the dusty Dodge City street on Saturday night, his badge glinting in the sun, his six-gun secure in its holster, to face the man in the black hat, Marshal Matt Dillon would be alive at the end of the show.

No such guarantee for Sir Harry Pearce and Section D.

No guarantee for anyone in real life either.

This afternoon, in a grocery store parking lot filled with cars but almost empty of people, a young couple passed me. The man was shouting at the woman. He reached out and pushed her shoulder. She turned away slightly, made a half-hearted attempt to fend him off. They made their way across the lot—the man shouting the same unprintable insult over and over, pushing and shoving, the woman staying beside him, hardly trying to defend herself.

Leaving the path leading to the cart return, I followed them. I didn’t consider what I could, or would, do. I just had to keep them in sight.

They had reached the sidewalk when a young woman rolling a cart filled with groceries and a toddler in the child seat stopped beside a nearby car. She called to me. “Call the police.”

“I don’t have my cell phone.”

She dug in her purse for her phone, then dialed 911. She then reported the couple’s actions and described them: jeans, black shorts, yellow t-shirt, blue and gray jersey displaying the number 31, baseball cap. I moved to a better vantage point and fed her details.

While she was on the phone, another young man and woman ran across the parking lot and managed to separate the couple. The women crossed the street. The men walked in the opposite direction across the lot. I lost them when they got into a car and drove away.

I wouldn’t recognize them if I saw them again, but I have a feeling the fellow doing the shouting and pushing would recognize me: He left staring over his shoulder at me. I wasn’t comfortable standing in that gaze. Since he obviously knew what my new friend and I were up to, he might have been uncomfortable, too, but he appeared too angry to feel self-conscious.

With no suspect, the 911 call ended. My friend turned off her phone and dropped it back into her purse. I thanked her.

“That wasn’t right,” she said.


“She didn’t even try to get away from him.”

“I was worried about what would happen when he got her away from here.” I was still worried. He hadn’t had time to cool off, if that made a difference. If they drove around the block, found the women walking up the street…

“It just wasn’t right.” She thanked me and finished loading her groceries.

I wheeled my cart to the return, got into my car, and drove home.

Ever since, I’ve wished I could finish that scene, tie up loose ends, get everyone home safely, make them live happily ever after. But in real life, I don’t get to write the script.

And I don’t always get to know how the story ends.


Image of Hermione Norris by Hermione_Norris.jpg: Sam Knox derivative work: ukexpat (Hermione_Norris.jpg) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

How It Ends

Chicken Korma
Image by TheCulinaryGeek via Flickr

I am not devastated.

Season 8 of MI5 just ended. Nuclear war between India and Pakistan was averted.

The team, however, did not come out unscathed. Something bad happened to one of the characters.

This time last year, I would have been in tears. But I’m calm. I have discovered the way to peaceful acceptance of the demands of the script:


When I discovered Wikipedia carries a plot summary of each season of the series, I read to the very end. I knew how X would leave the show, and then Y, and now Z.

And I’m okay. I’ve had time to reconcile myself to loss. It’s easier this way.

That’s only for television.

About books, I’m more particular.

A couple of months ago, I started a novel but couldn’t get into it. I passed it to Friend #1, who read it, said she loved it, and passed it to Friend #2.

Last week, at a Proxy Valentine dinner, Friend #2 returned the book. Handing it to me, she said, “I loved it. All but the way it ended…I didn’t want the little girl to die.”

I refrained from fainting dead away and falling into the chicken korma.

I assured Friend #2 she hadn’t spoiled the book for me. It’s quirky. I knew anything could happen.

And it might be best this way. This time. For this book.

But I see no trend developing.

When Wikipedia adds Season 9, I’ll read ahead.

Otherwise, the book report rule stands: Don’t tell me how it ends.

Day 19: Worrying about Harry

Last week, I worried about Harry. Now it’s Harry and the whole of London.

Based on reason, experience, and the fact that MI5 is neither science- nor speculative fiction, I presume London and the majority of its inhabitants will survive.

Harry I’m not sure about.

That is darned good writing.


I wrote the Harry passage last night. I intended to post it last night. But I didn’t.

I would offer a legitimate reason for breaking my promise to post every day in November, but–

The truth is, I got bogged down.

After writing about Harry, I inserted an attractive divider (see ~~~ above) and addressed a second topic. I intended a series of brief observations connected only by their brilliance.

I never got to topic #3. In just minutes I saw that even brilliant observations can reek.

So I cut the part about Harry, saved it for another post, and continued writing about topic #2.

I wrote, deleted, wrote, deleted, wrote…

After a while, it seemed a good time to look for a photograph.

I used to post text only. But those posts reminded me of the websites about writing that cropped up back in the 90s: words, words, words, no graphics, just words all over the page. It was obvious they’d been designed by people who hadn’t become accustomed to reading graphics.

In other words, people like me. But now, a surfer of some sophistication, I like to throw in an image here and there.

So, interrupting the sequence of write-deletes, I went in pursuit of the perfect picture.

So many choices, none of them acceptable.

By the time the search ended, the clock had struck midnight. November 19 was gone.

After eighteen consecutive days of posting, I had slipped.

Worse yet, it wasn’t the first time. Day 18 was posted after midnight on Day 19. Day 17 was posted on Day 18. Day 16 was posted on Day 17.

I won’t belabor the point.

My only consolation is that, although I have not posted every single day, by the end of November 20, I will have put up twenty posts.

If I hurry.


P.S. London is fine. Harry, however, is in a pickle.


Image of Freemasons’ Hall, London courtesy of damo1977 via Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Freemasons’ Hall stands in for Thames House, home of MI5, in the TV series MI5 (Spooks).

Day 12: Ten more minutes

Harry Pearce is in trouble.

Big trouble.

And I’m sitting here, heart rate elevated, breath coming fast, as worried as if Harry were real.

Several months ago I discovered MI5. It’s running on the local PBS station. Programs from an early series air on Thursday nights at 9:00. Programs from a more recent series air on Friday nights at 10:00 and rerun Sundays at midnight.

I’m hooked. I watch them all.

The scripts are well-written, suspenseful, fast. They assume a modicum of intelligence on the part of the viewer.

And they’re unpredictable.

The writers kill their stars.

I’ve seen several go. One was dispatched just now.

I knew it was going to happen. A couple of months ago I read some plot summaries online.

I almost never read ahead, but in this case I’m glad I did. I was able to prepare myself. Knowing made things easier.

The thing is, I didn’t read far enough. I didn’t know Harry would be threatened.

If the writers did away with all the others, there’s no reason they should flinch at disposing of Harry.

So I don’t know what will happen.

And I care what happens.

Ten more minutes…