BBC Spooks Code 9 - still looking for clues

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Episode 3 of the BBC 3 tv spin off series [spooks] code 9, was full of amusing or annoying technical howlers, as well as the casual, desensitising violence, swearing. nudity and and Orwellian surveillance.

Is there sub-plot, which has featured in each of the three episodes so far, of some "hacking" / mathematical puzzle solving, involving "clues" to a possible alleged traitor in MI5 who might have been behind the nuclear bomb explosion in London, left by Hannah, the assassinated former head of the MI5 Field Office 19, going to appear as an online Flash based game or puzzle ? If not, then BBC 3 are missing out on generating some online interest in the series, something which it desperately needs, despite associated fan discussion websites like spookscode9.com.

There is also the cynical attempt at a Paul Verhoeven RoboCop or Starship Troopers film style "future news" Liberty News website. This comes . complete with astroturfed i.e. faked "grass root" user comments, reminiscent of the heavily criticised "Information Revolution" advertising campaign which failed to wean many people from Google to the rival Ask search engine in 2006.

These "clues" are being "solved", on his own, by Charlie Green, the new leader of the MI5 Field Office 19 team , who is supposedly a mathematician,

After "hacking in" to a "timetable", which conveniently tells him when the MI5 central command are due to clear their assassinated former bosses flat, Charlie and the former policewoman Rachel Harris break into the flat at night.

After magically opening the lock to the door to the flat, by placing what might be a magnet between the door handle and the keyhole, they search the flat using torches in the dark a la CSI Las Vegas / Miami / New York.

There are a couple of Clues. On the wall is a map, apparently of to The Yorkshire Dales ("it's where Hannah grew up"). Outside on the balcony, exposed to the weather is an astronomical reflector telescope.

The business end of the telescope is pointing inside from the balcony into the flat, not towards the sky, or to the neighbouring buildings.

However, attached to the tripod is a plastic folder containing an astronomical observation note book, with some "telescope coordinates".

Charlie, however spots a differently formatted number

"What ? They're just telescope coordinates"

"Not this middle one"

"It's just a long random number, Charlie"

"Numbers are never random"

Remember that Charlie is meant to be a mathematician - aaaaarrrrgh !!

telescope_numbers.jpg

The number is

1541134822174

Charlie then memorises the Number and Rachel then rips out this page from the notebook, and burns it, without bothering to check if there are any other clues in the astronomical telescope coordinates on the rest of the page, or in the rest of the notebook.

Later, Charlie copies out the Number again, and eventually spots that it contains the number sequence for the decimal version of the square root of two.

square_root.jpg

By filtering out every second digit, i.e. the ones not in the (rounded off to 6 decimal places) square root of two 1.414214... sequence he gets Another Number: strong>513827

This, he assures Rachel is an "OS map co-ordinate", without investigating if it is a telephone number or something else.

Later on they both take a trip out into deserted countryside, away from any roads or footpaths, with a GPS unit, and get to the 100 metre square grid reference looking puzzled.

They then spot a solitary tree, and, surprise surprise, find a translucent plastic CD case or similar, in the hollow of the tree.

This either contains a four folded piece of paper with some names on it, e.g. Nagako Ito, "The Ghostman (circled for emphasis), Kevin Reynolds ("The Transporter), Hong Wang, Abdul Ibrahim

tree_note.jpg

"The Ghost man" seems to feature in the next episode 4, according to the end credits teaser.

It would be an understatement to say that this location is not an ideal spot for a geo cache or a dead letter drop , since it completely exposes anyone visiting it to remote observation, contrary to the professional spy tradecraft of the real and fictional Moscow Rules.

The Landranger Grid Reference SE513827, does seem to point to near the Sutton Bank beauty spot, on the Cleveland Way at the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, but this may just be a coincidence.

Letting the drug dealer / informant Vickers, even have a look at the MI5 unit's entire intelligence visusalisation diagram, photos , names etc. of their investigation into the Prospect Towers estate, is utterly unbelievable or stupid.

intelligence_diagram.jpg

It was fairly obvious who the mysterious "Zero" was going to turn out to be.

Why is the fact that the illegal / fake anti-radiation drugs contain nicotine, meant to be some sort of secret ? Surely a bit of chemical analysis would have detected this well before the infiltration operation ?

Why exactly was it necessary to have three or four female workers in the illegal drugs factory packaging the pills by hand , wearing dust masks and latex gloves, but otherwise topless, exposing their naked breasts ? Note that the guard does not wear a face mask.

drug_packing.jpg

As noted before, when it was mentioned in the comments on the preview of Episode 3, the concept of "sonic crowd control" devices, actually described as "sonic weapons", in the full episode, which have somehow been secretly installed on the estate, without the local criminals knowing about them, is ridiculous.

The criminals seem to have disabled these devices, or they were never installed properly, and, despite using the attached CCTV control room to coordinate their own criminal activities, they did not use these "sonic weapons" against the police raid.

However, when the MI5 protagonists raid the same estate, their inside infiltrator has magically flicked a switch, whilst pulling the wires from the CCTV control cabinet, and the remote controlled sonic weapons work first time, and torture the innocent crowd outside into falling onto the ground clutching their ears. Neither the criminals inside the buildings holding guns on the MI5 agents,nor those agents themselves, seem to be affected by the "sonic weapons", except as a distraction.

Spooks Code 9 episode 3 was of similar standard to the first two episodes, which is is still disappointing.

Episode 4 promises

The horrific murder of two MI5 informants lead the team to discover a leak at a government-run Missing Person's Scheme. The race is on to find the source of the corruption and stop the killings before they escalate. Rachel goes undercover to find further information on the MI5 cover up and learns a British scientist may have been wrongly imprisoned for his part in the bomb plot.

Why exactly should any of their "Assets" actually trust this MI5 gang with their lives or with any information ?

2 Comments

Hi, I'm the lead designer of Liberty News, and I can tell you that exactly none of the comments on the site are fake or astroturfed. We wouldn't do that, we have never done that in our games and ARG, and we never will do it.

What's more, I could prove this if necessary, whereas you cannot. Say what you like about the show and the website, but please do not make false accusations about astroturfing.

@ Adrian - your design for the Liberty News website design is very professional, but unfortunately, it seems to have been giving

Server error!

The server encountered an internal error and was unable to complete your request. Either the server is overloaded or there was an error in a CGI script.

If you think this is a server error, please contact the webmaster.

Error 500

www.libertynews.co.uk

Apache/2.2.3 (Red Hat)

errors during most of Bank Holiday Monday.

The astroturfed "Information Revolution" website did have lots of genuine comments from the public, mostly critical ones, but it was noticeable that many of the supposedly user generated stories, also had a few fawning "starter" comments.

The astroturfed "Information Revolution" website did have lots of genuine comments from the public, mostly critical ones, but it was noticeable that many of the supposedly user generated stories, also had a few fawning "starter" comments.

That was also my impression of the Liberty News website, especially when you compare it with the comments on the BBC registered www.spookscode9.com which is entitled "Fansite for the BBC Three 2013 Spy Drama", where the vast majority of public comments from Spooks fans have not been kind to the new show.

What's more, I could prove this if necessary, whereas you cannot.

How exactly do you propose to do this, without breaking the promises in the published Privacy Policy ?


About this blog

This blog is discusses and analyses the new book Spook Country by cyberpunk author William Gibson, published in August 2007.

This will be primarily from a United Kingdom perspective, as some of the themes of espionage and surveillance and hidden forces really do resonate in our endemic Surveillance Society.

This blog has been described, quite fairly, as "otaku-worthy immersion"

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Fictional British TV Spooks

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Stylish, if somewhat far fetched, BBC TV drama based on MI5 the Security Service - Spooks

BBC children's TV series M.I.High

2008 spin off TV series from Spooks [spooks] code 9 , set a few years into the future in 2013, in the Orwellian Police State which has emerged after a nuclear bomb attack on London.

Fictional Spooks

The Spy Wise Blog by Wesley Britton

Real Spooks

MI5 - the Security Service - counter-espionage, counter-terrorism, domestic surveilance

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Ex - Spooks

RichardTomlinson.org - Richard Tomlinson - still being harassed by his former employer MI6. There are also links to Cryptome's archives of articles and alleged, unproven, lists of names of former or mcurrent MI6 agents (including, improbably, some UK Ambassadors), which caused lots of controversy. Tomlinson denies publishing anything not already in the public domain.

Martin Ingram, Welcome To The Dark Side - former British Army Intelligence operative in Northern Ireland.

Operation Billiards - Mitrokhin or Oshchenko ? Michael John Smith - seeking to overturn his Official Secrets Act conviction in the GEC case.

The Dirty Secrets of MI5 & MI6 - Tony Holland, Michael John Smith and John Symond - stories and chronologies.

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Alan Turnbull's www.secret-bases.co.uk - "An entertaining guide to using Internet-based research tools – Ordnance Survey's maps, Getmapping's aerial photos and Google Earth! to reveal the UK's "hidden" MoD facilities and military sites"

Eye Spy Magazine - " The world's leading newsstand magazine on intelligence and espionage" - photos, articles, book reviews, private sector surveillance equipment and services adverts etc. N.B. Sometimes uncritical articles on various anti-terrorism and espionage topics, presumably in order to keep in favour with their anonymous sources.

Historical Spooks

Science Museum, London - Science of Spying Exhibition - for Spy Kids of all ages until September 2007.

Bletchley Park - "Historic site of secret British codebreaking activities during WWII and birthplace of the modern computer."

Imperial War Museum. London

Spooky CyberPunks and CyberGoths

The Dose is a "free, downloadable PDF zine ranging from industrial and gothic music to indie game development, Japanese visual kei, eyecandy, cyberpunkness" produced in Hungary.The three (so far annual) issues so far, with another promised in July 2007 contain plenty of CyberPunk and CyberGoth images and reviews, with the occasional reference back to William Gibson or other cyberpunk fiction authors.

Spy / Surveillance Art Projects

Spy Box - "A digital camera inside a parcel looks out through a small hole and captures images of its journey through the postal system. The Spy Box was sent from my studio to the gallery taking an image every 10 seconds recording a total of 6994 images these were then edited together to create an animated slideshow." - by artist Tim Knowles

Benjamin Males - "Face Targeting and Analysis System (2008) - Software designed to find and analyse faces in a video stream. First stage in an ongoing project looking at the potential misuse of technology"

London CyberPunk Tourist Guide

As part of the preparations for William Gibson book signing and lecture event promoting Spook Country in London, during August 2007, this "local knowledge" guide to places of interest to cyberpunk fans was compiled, and has been subsequently expanded.

London CyberPunk Tourist Guide - http://CyberPunk.org.uk

Please feel free to add comments or send emails, to keep it up to date.

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Zero History blog - ZeroHistory.net - discussion and hyper link cloud enhanced literary criticism of William Gibson's forthcoming novel, entitled Zero History, which is due to be published on 7th September 2010.

See the Fragments of a Hologram Bill thread on the William Gibson Books discussion forum for the snippets of writing which have been released for discussion to the public so far.

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"Spook Country" hyperlink cloud annotation

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