Slow Horses – S03E01 – Strange Games | Transcript

The third season of Slow Horses opens with a tense scene in Istanbul, where Alison (Katherine Waterston) is seen meeting with a mysterious contact to hand over a sensitive file.
Slow Horses - S03E01 - Strange Games

Episode Title: Strange Games
Series: Slow Horses
Season: 3
Episode: 1
Original release date: 29 November 2023
Plot Summary: The third season of Slow Horses opens with a tense scene in Istanbul, where Alison (Katherine Waterston) is seen meeting with a mysterious contact to hand over a sensitive file. However, their plans are interrupted when Sean (Sope Dirisu), a member of Slough House, shows up and discovers the exchange. Alison is forced to flee, but Sean manages to track her down to a deserted stadium where she is killed.
Back in London, Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman) is dealing with the fallout from the botched operation and is under increasing pressure from his superiors. Meanwhile, the Slough Horses are tasked with investigating a series of mysterious deaths that have links to the Russian government.
As the team delves deeper into the case, they uncover a web of intrigue and betrayal that reaches the highest levels of government. They must also confront their own personal demons as they try to bring the perpetrators to justice.

* * *

Why don’t we take off this weekend, head down the coast?

[chuckles] What?

You always say this city has everything you could ever want.

It does.

But, you know, if you’d rather score points than spend the weekend with me, I’ll post the offer on the embassy noticeboard. [chuckles]

No. [chuckling] No, I’ll come.

Of course I’ll come.

Mmm. [chuckles]

Mmm. Mmm.

[groans] I need to shower and finish making the hummus.

This is Istanbul. You can buy pretty good hummus.

I’m immersing myself in the cuisine.

[door opens]

What are you doing?

Oh, I was just looking–

For what?

Something of yours?

Why would that be on my desk?

What are you looking for?

A sensitive file they think you’re about to leak.

Um… [breathes shakily]

Okay. Um, what’s supposed to be in this file?

I wasn’t told. Just the name.


And you didn’t ask any questions? Just went along with it?

You make a terrible spy, by the way.

This isn’t easy for me.

No? Seems it.

Come around here and fuck me, then go through my stuff.

Pretty sweet assignment.

I couldn’t turn them down. They don’t know about us.

Alison. Ali. No, wait!



Did you find it?

You know I had to look.

Thought you cared about me.

I do.

I really do.

Get the fuck out.

Please let me make this right.

Now. [sniffs]

[door opens, closes]

[breathes heavily]



It’s me. We need to bring it forward.

Heading there now. [sniffles]

[people chattering in distance]

[in Turkish] To Kadiköy.

Yes, ma’am.

Follow that boat.

Let’s turn right in front of the tanker.

I can’t get that close.

500 more if you lose the boat behind.

Cut across the tanker now!

No way!

[chattering, cheering, laughing]

[music playing]

[people chattering]


[car horns honking]

[honking continues]

[in English] Hey!

[people shouting]

Oh, fuck!

[horn honks]


[drivers shouting, speaking Turkish]

[tires squeal]

[honks honking]


[breathes heavily]

[siren wailing in distance]

[Alison] Get it out there into the world.



[tires squealing]

No! Ali, stop! Wait! What?


[breathes heavily] Alison!

Ali, where are you?

Ali! [breathes heavily]


[breathing heavily] Where are you?


[breathing heavily]

[breathing shakily]

[“Strange Game” playing]

[siren wailing in distance]

[breathing heavily] River!

They need that last box.

Got it.

Have you checked it?


It doesn’t look like it.

It’s still got the old tape.

Yeah, well, I stuck it down again. I’m being green.

Did you itemize it?

What does it matter? No one’s gonna read this stuff ever again.

Yes, but we’re still supposed to itemize it.

[River] It’s pointless.

These files are all Ringo-level, the lowest-grade record the Park has.

[breathes heavily] Shows you what they think of us.

They’ll think a lot less of us if we can’t even do this simple job properly.

Catherine, this is the equivalent of filling a storage unit full of crap

for your kids to sort through once you’ve died.

We’ve been asked to do it, so we should do it well.

You need to get back up those stairs and itemize it.

No, not happening. And plus, the van needs to go.

[Catherine] I’d rather the box went tomorrow,

when you’ve been through the contents.


[strains] This isn’t even taped up properly.


It’s fine. Just forget it.

[engine starting]

Whoa. Wait, w-w-wait, wait!

[groans] Oh, God.

Jesus! Wait! [grunts]


[clears throat]


[River] Yeah, I’m just getting another box.

[breathes heavily, sighs]


[person snoring]


I’m, uh, sorry to have to do this, but should he be in here?


Well, the-the homeless man.

Homeless man?

He has an appointment.

He’s making, uh-[stammers, whispers] Odors.

[normal] It’s upsetting my wife.

There’s not much I can do about that, I’m afraid.


[grunts, exhales sharply]

It’s my colon. Terminal.

There’s no need for that, Jackson.

You know, perks of the job.

Has it really been a year?

It has.

[groans] My, uh-My balls are hanging a bit lower.

But apart from that, all good.

How’s the drinking?

Fine, thanks.

No. I mean, how much are you drinking?

Oh, I don’t know. Uh, two or three bottles a week.


Uh, whiskey.

[sighs] I thought we talked about this.

Oh, it doesn’t affect my work.

And besides, I’ve got fuck all to do, which is well within my comfort zone.

This is a Service medical.

There’s a limit to the amount of units you can consume a week.

[inhales deeply] Uh, w-what’s the limit?


Put that then.

I’m not allowed to lie.

Y-You’re not lying. I am. I told you 14. Put-Put that.


I quit.



I haven’t had one for-Ooh! Twenty-seven minutes.

By some miracle, your blood tests came back okay.

There you go. You see, I’m a fucking titan.

I’ll just take your blood pressure.

Then we’ll get you on the treadmill.

[chuckles] If you-you–

you put me on a treadmill… [chuckling] …you’ll be done for manslaughter.

You need to do some light exercise,

an hour’s walk a day, and watch what you eat.

[inhales sharply] I think the time has passed for that, don’t you?

Dodgy vindaloo and some steep steps should finish me off.

Can’t think of a better way to go.

I’ll, uh-I’ll finish that box in the morning.

And do the others properly?


Maybe you should try embracing the task rather than fighting it.

Embracing it might be a bit of a stretch, but you know, I’ll just, um–

You know, it’s quite tiring,

having to chivy you along like this.

Well, then don’t.

Stop being such a martyr about it.

I’ll see you tomorrow.

Wait. Catherine, I didn’t mean that.

Ooh. Sorry.

No, you’re fine!


[people chattering]

[group leader] At this point in the meeting,

we ask if there’s any newcomers who’d like to share.

My name’s John.

[all] Hello, John.

[John] Still an alcoholic.

Still a newcomer.

Still only counting days.

Keep waiting for the next day to be easier than the last… [chuckles]

…but, um… [clicks tongue]

…I don’t expect that’s going to happen.

[all] Keep coming back.

[group leader] Are there any other newcomers who would like to speak?

[Singh] Evening, ma’am.

Your car is waiting to take you to the off-site file storage facility.

I’m going to the agency meeting.

I’ve been told there’s been a slight change to your schedule.

By whom?


Lamb doner please, mate.

Regular or large?

Uh… [huffs] …large.

No, make it two regulars.

Fourteen pounds.

Fourteen. [sighs]

Chili sauce for the kebabs?

Yeah. E-Enough so I can’t taste the meat.

[patron] Three doners, mate.

And some beers.

No beers.

[patron 2 sighs] I’ll go grab some beers from the offie, yeah?

Uh-I’ll be outside.

It is Catherine, right?


Do you have a moment? I just wanted to ask some advice.

From me?


N-No worries if not. [stammers] It’s just,

when I was talking away in there, it seemed like you were really listening.

Thank you. I try to. [chuckles]

What was it you wanted to ask?

Well, um, I think it’s probably time I got a sponsor.

[cashier] Cheers.

Thank you for giving me your time. It’s not the friendliest city.

It’s changed a lot since I was last here.

When was that?

Ten years or so.

And what brought you back?


I lost someone.

Couldn’t stay where I was.

Memories, you know?

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry I was–

No, it’s fine.

Hey, I could have lied, saved you the awkwardness,

but, um, the drinking started when they died.

I blamed myself, internalized it… [inhales deeply]

…and part of my recovery has been about being open about it.

You know, dealing with it, not burying it.

You can push things away,

but sooner or later, you have to deal with them.

Hmm. And secrets will always come out.

There will always be a reckoning.

[door opens]

[barista] Decaf latte and an extra-strong cappuccino with extra chocolate.

I think I’ll get mine to take away.

[John] What? No. I’m really enjoying talking to you.

I have an early start tomorrow.

Oh, come on. You can’t leave.

We haven’t talked about what we came here to talk about.

Oh, yes. A sponsor.

No. Jackson Lamb.

[breathing heavily]

Excuse me.

Sorry. I’m lost.

[stammers] Could you show me the way to the North Circular?

Um, I’m headed that way. If you give me a lift, I can direct you.

You’re headed somewhere else.

[screaming, grunting]

[John grunting]

[muffled shouting]

[tires squealing]

[sirens wailing in distance]

[car horn honks]

[indistinct radio chatter]


Stay the fuck back.


Second Desk in the house.

[chuckles] Outside the house-Not a house.

Uh, a series of decommissioned bunkers from the Cold War.

If a bomb dropped, this is where the Queen and the government would have hidden out.

Yes, I know. I decommissioned it.

And recommissioned it as a document storage facility.

Thank you, my creator.

I see you’d like the tour.

Well, that’s why I’m here.

“Step into my parlor,” said the spider to the fly. [chuckles]

I-It’s not a parlor. I’m not a spider. I’m Douglas. You’re not a fly.

Can you just think before you speak, then perhaps not speak?

Message received and understood.

But not yet applied.


You look like you could use company.

And you’ve been here for 37 minutes now, and you haven’t once checked the door.

You don’t wanna talk?


I’ll just sit here and enjoy the view.

I’m in futures, by the way. Don’t worry, I’m not a fortune teller.

Although you have just met a handsome stranger.

Futures is a-a derivative contract to buy or sell a commodity

at a later point in time. I’m kind of a commodity of a–

Jesus Christ, I’m gonna have two glasses of wine, which I will pay for myself,

and if you’re still here when I’m done, you can come home with me.

But in the meantime…


…please just shut the fuck up.



[people chattering]

[Marcus sighs]

You got 30 minutes.

Look, I’ve got a problem.

Yeah, so have I.

I was heading out to get off my face and pick up a stray fuck.

I’m being blackmailed.

[sighs] Over a debt?


What then?

Over the fact that I’m gambling again.

They know you’re Service?


So you’re compromised?


Who by?

Jesus. FSB? North Korean?

Or is it organized crime?

What’s up, Ho-bros?

Ho-bros. You’re my bros, but you’re also hoboes.

[Marcus] You’re gonna want a drink for this.

Wha-Ho’s the one blackmailing you?

[grunts] It’s not blackmail.

I asked him for a simple favor. He refused.

So I applied a little gentle pressure to set him on the path of righteousness.

You are such a piece of shit, Ho.

You threatened to get him thrown out?

They can’t throw me out for gambling.

It’s a-It’s an addiction, so, you know, mental health issue.

Well, so who was he gonna tell?

His missus.

He promised her he’d stop gambling, but someone has

a naughty online poker habit.

Shut up.

[stammers] What has this got to do with me?

[scoffs] Did he not tell you?

The price of my silence was for him to deliver you.

But I’m not his to deliver.

Look, I’ll get you a drink, all right?

I’ll get the fucking drinks with your money.

Give me a Jack Daniel’s and Coke.

As you can see, we have ample storage for George and Ringo-level files,

the Paul and John-level still stored at the Park.

Now, I find the nomenclature just a little harsh.

Big George Harrison fan.

I went through a bit of a transcendental phase myself, actually,

which did result in a minor breakdown,

but… [exhales sharply] …here I am. [chuckles]

Molly Doran asked me to double-check that shelf 27 arrived safely.

It was a last-minute addition, apparently.

Molly Doran asked a question of me? [chuckles] She is a legend.

The queen of filing. My secret crush.

Well, next time, I’ll bring a signed photograph.

What should I tell her?

That it has indeed arrived safely,

and it is resting on my sweet bosom. [chuckles]

Just figuratively.

It is up here. You can view it, if you like.

No need. How do I get out?

It is actually quicker to finish the tour than go back the way we came.

Oh, just point me to the nearest exit.

[music playing]

[people chattering]

[clicks tongue] What do you want from me?


You think she’s got the diamond?


357 diamonds spilled out over the roof when Louisa nearly got shot.

They only recovered 356.

Duffy’s obsessed with finding it. Otherwise, his Dogs stay under suspicion.

Yeah, you’ve got it.

No, I haven’t.

Well, not anymore. You’ll have gambled it.

I didn’t take it.

The only other person up there was Catherine. No way was it her.

Well, if this isn’t about Louisa having the diamond, then what is it about?

Oh, my God.

Hottest girl in the office should be with the hottest boy.

But it ain’t happening.

[gasps] Is that why you dyed your hair?

What? No. She dyed hers to copy me.

She’s sending out the Bat-Signal but treating me like the Joker.


You really can’t work out why this isn’t happening yourself?

Obviously she’s still hung up on Harper.

But he was killed, cremated and scattered.

She-Look, she needs to move on. You need to set her straight.

She’s on the downslopes as it is.

It breaks my heart to watch good fruit

rotting on the branch.


[Shirley grunts]

[onlookers gasping]

[glassware clatters]

[Shirley sighs]

[onlooker laughs]

That is what you should have done in the first place.

Get me another drink.

I’ll get you drinks for life. [chuckling]

Mmm. Cookies and cream. My favorite.

[clicks tongue] Must be a sign.

You just help yourself to people’s ice cream, do you?

Excuse me?

Put the ice cream back.

I’ll buy you some more.

I can buy my own ice cream, thank you very mu–

You know what? Get out.

Fuck off now.

Fucking weird.

And you’re a shit fuck.

[Louisa’s pickup sighs]

[breathes shakily]


[siren wailing in distance]


Fuck’s sake.


Standish! Soap!



Good morning.


How long have you been here?


About an hour.


Trying to make it up to Catherine,

’cause I think I really managed to piss her off yesterday.

Oh, yeah? What does pissed-off Catherine look like?

Exactly the same, which makes it worse.

She’ll be fine.

I told her to stop being such a martyr.

[chuckles] Okay. Then she won’t be fine.

Right. Why?

Because she keeps this place going. She is selfless.

And you basically implied that she did it to take the moral high ground.

Well, no, I didn’t mean it like that. It was an offhand kind of thing.

[dishes clattering]

Offhand? Even worse.

This isn’t making me feel better, by the way.

What are you looking at?


Looks like he’s trying to make a cup of something.

[clattering continues]

I didn’t know he knew how to do that.

If he’s doing anything for himself, something’s up.

Well, let’s film it then.

[whispers] Oh, he might end up burning himself.

Everything okay?

Go see if she went to her AA meeting.



Oh, it’s good to know all those late nights and meaningless sex

haven’t dulled your senses.

Go see if Standish is stuck under her duvet.

Is that her key?

Of course it’s her fucking key. Why would he give us a random key?

She’s sharp, that one.

[River] Do you want me to come with you?

No, thanks. I don’t need babysitting.

Didn’t mean that like that either.

Wait. What-What do you think has happened to Catherine?

Maybe she fell off the wagon or ran away to start a donkey sanctuary.

All I know is she’s not here.

[Jackson grunts]

Well… [clears throat] …last night…

[sighs] What?

No, it’s probably nothing. Maybe she’s just late.

[sighs] She’s never late.

And if she was, she’d ring.

But she can’t, ’cause her mobile is off.

Okay. Well, then her battery ran out or she, you know, got stuck on the Tube.

[sighs] No, she doesn’t get the Tube.

And her phone doesn’t run out.

And you’re only making these dumb suggestions

because you don’t want to admit that you might’ve fucked up.

So why don’t you just tell me what happened,

and I’ll decide how much I hurt you?

Last night, I said goodbye to her on the street.

And then this guy bumped into me, heading in her direction.

[breathes heavily] Age and description.

Late 30s, Black, athletic. I really didn’t get that good a look at the guy.

He probably wasn’t even following her.

But you didn’t think of… [breathes heavily]

…hanging around to find out?

I guess I was thinking, why would anyone be following her?


[River sighs]



Check the hospital. See if Standish has been admitted.


[stammers] You heard me.

What do you want me to do?

[sighs] Quit.

No, seriously.

No, seriously, I want you to quit. You’re shit at this.

But failing that, get these files sorted.

This place is a fucking mess.

[Marcus] Catherine’s not here. She is not at work.

She’ll either show up or she won’t. There’s nothing much we can do.

Well, she might be here.

She might’ve died in her sleep.

She could be slipping away as we speak.

She could’ve drowned in the bath, choked on a grape.

Or her neighbor is a murderer, putting her through a meat grinder.

[inhales sharply] I think you’ve got more in common with Ho than you realize.

Ugh, fuck’s sake. There’s a second lock.

[Marcus] ‘Course there’s a second lock. She probably got it fitted

when she realized Lamb knew where she hid her spare.

Right. That’s that then.

We’ll have to come back with a warrant and a locksmith,

not that we’ll find anything in there anyways.

[Shirley grunts]

What the-[sighs]

She didn’t pick up yesterday’s post. Don’t think she came home.

You just broke in.

[sighs] Lamb will be cool with it.

[Marcus] Yeah. Well, I’m not. Could be arrested for this. Geez.

No, we can’t. We’re MI5.

This is exactly how I imagined her flat.

Yeah? How do you imagine Ho’s?

Human skulls, stolen underwear, pictures of Louisa with her eyes cut out.

[Marcus groans]

The dress she had on yesterday hasn’t been put for washing,

but the one from the day before has.

Better call Lamb.

So you don’t know if he’s a regular or not?

I don’t know him.

[Louisa] Mm-hmm.

But you’re sure you saw them heading to the café together?

[patrons chattering]

Heya. Can I get a black Americano, please? To go.

Sure. That’s 3.50.

How much?

It’ll be at the end of the counter.

Did the coffee beans fly in first class? Absolute thieves.

Where are your loos?

[barista] Uh, through the door out back.

[lock jangles]

[door unlocks]

[Catherine clears throat]

[door opens]

[door closes]


Let’s get this over with. Eyes front.

[gasps, grunts]

Let’s make this quick.

[camera shutter clicks]

Sit still.

[camera shutter clicks]

Up. Up!

[breathing heavily]

[stammers] Yesterday… [breathes heavily] …when I was waiting,

do you remember the other patients?

I’m not allowed to talk about the other patients. Confidentiality.

[stammers] The guy was sitting in the corner, filling in a form.

But I’m guessing he didn’t hand it in.

And if he didn’t hand it in, then he’s not a patient.

I can speak slower if you like.

All I want to know is, did he leave when I went in with Dr. Daley?

[whispers] It was around then.

[cell phone buzzing]


I think she’s been abducted.

Yeah. They had people watching me in case she pulled the alarm cord.

Why were they watching you?

Because I’m really fucking good.

The caretaker at AA said she headed to a café with a man after the meeting.

But I reckon something must have spooked her

’cause I found her hairpin in the road behind.

You get a description of him?

Black, 30s, fit.

Yeah, it sounds like the guy Cartwright saw

tailing her from Slough House. CCTV?

Cable’s cut in the alley behind the café.

They must have driven her out that way to snatch her in a vehicle.

All right. Well-Well, check her route again.

I would be amazed if you hadn’t missed something.

Why would anyone want to take Catherine?

[sighs] Maybe they got a death wish.

[cell phone buzzes]

Oh, Catherine’s messaged.

[Roddy] What did she say?

Thank God. [sniffs]



[John] Tell anyone, she dies.

Barbican Bridge. One minute, or she dies.

[“Strange Game” playing]


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