3 Reasons to Watch: Slow Horses, the acerbic Apple TV+ spy thriller


Jackson Lamb is no James Bond, but Slow Horses is an excellent spy thriller nonetheless.
Image: Apple TV+

Slow Horses, the Apple TV+ spy thriller based on the Slough House novels by British novelist Mick Herron, spices up its twisty-turny plots with witty dialogue and convincing performances.

Lead character Jackson Lamb, a rumpled British spook played by Gary Oldman, runs the misfit spy shop known as Slough House. Everyone on his team (known as the “Slow Horses”) screwed up in a major way professionally, earning them their one-way ticket to Lamb’s dusty, low-rent M15 leper colony. Lamb torments them at nearly every turn with a mordant mix of skepticism and ridicule.

Here are three reasons you should watch Slow Horses the Apple TV+, which fires up its third season today.

What to watch on Apple TV+: Slow Horses

If you see “spy thriller” and think 007 — especially the more recent, more realistic movies — you won’t be too far off the mark with Slow Horses (rated TV-MA). However, Jackson Lamb is no James Bond. If anything, he’s an anti-Bond: a rumpled, foul-mouthed, greasy-haired lout, dressed in a filthy raincoat rather than a tuxedo.

Lamb constantly smokes, drinks and farts — you can practically smell him from the screen. It’s a great character that rubs some folks the wrong way, but Oldman’s portrayal is far from the only reason to add Slow Horses to your Up Next list. Watch this gritty spy show if:

1.) You like spy thrillers

Slow Horses recap Apple TV+: Saskia Reeves, left, gets to stretch a little this week in the role of
Who can you trust on Slow Horses? Basically, nobody (and certainly not the Russians).
Photo: Apple TV+

Although beautifully shot, Slow Horses won’t blow you away with explosive, James Bond-style set pieces. But it will keep you guessing with its complex storylines riddled with backstabbing, double-crossing and occasional radiation poisonings.

Lamb’s motley crew of dead-enders frequently tangle not only with international bad guys whoa re hell-bent on creating chaos, but with their counterparts at MI5 — the British spies who didn’t completely bollocks their careers. In this spy-versus-spy-versus-other-spies world, you never know exactly who to trust.

On Slow Horses, there’s always more than enough intrigue to go around.

2.) You enjoy snappy dialogue, insults and British accents

Slow Horses season two on Apple TV+: Jackson Lamb (played by Gary Oldman, right) has a new mystery to solve.
Jackson Lamb (played by Gary Oldman, right) dishes out plenty of disdain for his fellow Slough House screwups.
Photo: Apple TV+

As Lamb, the thoroughly disheveled Oldman constantly berates his underlings. He dishes out cruel tongue-lashings even as he noisily slurps his beloved Chinese noodles (much to the dismay of his colleagues).

Despite the derision, you can tell that deep down, Lamb actually cares for his crew. And while they might be called Slow Horses, mostly they are anything but. The show’s cracking dialogue will grip you, even as you sometimes think, “Nobody’s smart enough to talk like that.”

Plus, if you’re an Anglophile, you’ll love the accents. Even though you might need to turn on the subtitles to decipher some of the British spy slang.

3.) You appreciate gritty, economical storytelling

Slow Horses recap Apple TV+: New agent Shirley (played by Christopher Chung and Aimee-Ffion Edwards, right) joins Slough House's slow horses.
Slow Horses is fast and furious as it reels out its intricate spy sagas.
Photo: Apple TV+

Each season of Slow Horses clocks in at just six episodes, and that fast pace keeps each episode taut.

The shorthand storytelling might make your head spin at times as you try to keep track of who, exactly, is trying to take down whom. But the thrifty dialogue and extraordinary pacing keep the story humming.

Slow Horses doesn’t waste any time as it sets up its intricate spy games. And it’s not afraid to snuff a beloved character if the unexpected death propels the plot line.

When does Slow Horses return to Apple TV+?

Apple TV+ launched the first season of Slow Horses in April 2022, with a second season arriving later that year. Season three arrived today, with a fourth on the way.

The reasons outlined above (and many more) make Slow Horses one of the 15 best shows on Apple TV+, according to Cult of Mac’s resident reviewer.

If you haven’t watched the first two seasons, you can binge them now with an Apple TV+ subscription. You should definitely watch them first, because Slow Horses third season likely will explode out of the gate, just as season two did. Apple TV+ costs $9.99 per month (with a seven-day free trial), or can be bundled with an Apple One subscription.

Watch on: Apple TV+

Watch on Apple TV


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.