Although he tricks and outwits KARLA, the number of references that Smiley should retire for good are equally resonant.
This series is as also about the mental acuity and competence of Smiley (in contrast to his Russian foes)–no cobwebs or Alzheimer’s here.
Although Smiley is a unique impressive character on many counts, it is emphasized throughout that he’s ‘still got it’.
It is something that he himself doubts–most noticeable when KARLA is crossing the bridge and he looks away.
He also feels bad about how he has brought down his long-time nemesis.
That he leaves Ann’s cigarette lighter gift on the ground at the end also signals the end of that relationship for good.
Smiley will always be a loner, true to his character.
Acorn’s 6 part/3 disc series is a worthy successor to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, also starring Alec Guinness as George Smiley. *North Americans unaccustomed with British accents and the perils of live British sound will probably find this to be much ado about nothing. In any case, the mysteries are non-stop and so only patient viewers who are interested in realistic, suspenseful spy drama would have a shot at enjoying this.
Otherwise, I cannot say enough good things about the solid British acting here including:
Guinness as Smiley
Eileen Atkins as Madame Ostrakova
Bernard Hepton as Toby Esterhase
Michael Lonsdale as Grigoriev
Tusse Silberg as Alexandra
Siam Phillips as Ann
Barry Foster as Enderby
Anthony Bate as Oliver
Michael Byrne as Peter.
This is one of the best tv series casts ensemble for any UK series.
Whereas the first series was about a ‘mole’ within the Circus, this was finally about bringing down the big Russian superspy. There are numerous obstacles and numerous loose ends are unresolved until Smiley gets to each one. Easily, with the 1st series, the top two tv spy series ever done; the second being a nice stretch after series 1. Highly recommended for those who are into Mystery and suspense, who like great character acting, who are patient viewers, and who are not bothered by UK live sound or British and Russian accents.