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Saturday At The Movies: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Chapter 6, Smiley Sets A Trap

by Flyovercountry ( 1 Comment › )
Filed under Headlines at December 15th, 2012 - 12:24 pm

We pick up in chapter six with Smiley continuing his investigation. Both of the major events in chapter six differ greatly from the American version of this story. Jerry Westerby did not appear as a character at all in our version, and his story is pivotal, as it allows George to eliminate Toby Esterhase as a suspect. It also gives George control of the lamplighters, something he will find extremely useful in setting up his trap. Jerry Westerby is also an important character in the next Book of this trilogy, one that never became a film. Westerby is the case officer of the Chinese spy network in which Smiley strikes back at Karla in, “The Honorable School Boy.”

The other event in this chapter that deserves some conversation is Smiley’s turning of Toby Esterhase, which is masterfully done. That’s not to say that the Hollywood version was not also done well, given the time constraints of a two hour movie, but when half a chapter can be devoted to it, you get a much better sense of the Smiley character. This exchange also highlights beautifully why George never quite got along well with the politicians for whom he worked. Remember back in chapter three, when I told you that intelligence gleaned from unknown sources that turned up as a miracle was a huge problem, or should be considered as such? That concept is part of the discussion between George and Toby, only slightly skewed, as in the Soviets would never be so foolish to take something that poorly vetted on face value, the implication being of course, the British politicians had no such reservations. In fact, their appetite for the splashy score is the exact reason why Gerald the mole was able to flourish as well as he did. The overwhelming theme of both George Smiley and Control has always been that good intelligence work is gradual, and miracles are illusions.


Agent – A spy recruited by a foreign government to spy on their own country. This term should not be confused with a case officer, the intelligence service member who recruited and then handled the spy.

Babysitters – Bodyguards

Circus – MI6, the British intelligence service.

The Competition – MI5, British counter espionage service. Also referred to as the, “security mob.”

The Cousins – The CIA or any American intelligence service.

Distress Rocket – An emergency signal to a logistical support structure that a crash meeting or other prearranged measures are necessary, often involving new identities and emergency legends.

Ferrets – Tech people who find and remove bugs, cameras, or an attempt to spy on the good guys.

Honey Trap – A sexual trap intended for black mail or murder.

Housekeepers – Internal auditors or accountants who are used to insure discipline within the service.

Inquisitors – Interrogators who debrief agents or defectors.

Janitors – Headquarters staff and guards of internal secure areas.

Lamplighters – Watchers, surveillance staff, couriers.

Legend – A false biography and accompanying documents for a covert operative, be they a control officer or a mole.

Mole – A recruited agent who does not begin spying on his target for a long period of time. Usually they have worked their way up through an organization until such time as a preset target has been reached, and then activated after a period of years. In, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” for instance, Gerald was recruited in 1955 and not activated until 1972.

Mothers – Secretaries, researchers, clerical staff, most trusted by case officers.

Nuts and Bolts – Logistical support.

Pavement Artists – Specialized surveillance teams who can follow without getting caught.

Priests – The Legislative overseers of MI6. (Intelligence oversight committees etc.)

Scalp hunters – Professional thugs, handling assassinations, bribery, break ins, beatings, kidnappings etc.

Shoemakers – Forgers, they provide false identities in the form of passports, drivers licenses, etc.

Wranglers – Intelligence analysts, cryptographers, the people who look at raw reports, documents, photos, etc., and pass on authenticity, meaning, scope, etc.


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One Response to “Saturday At The Movies: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Chapter 6, Smiley Sets A Trap”
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  1. darkwords
    1 | December 16, 2012 3:30 pm

    I might have to read this again. Read it years ago. I like spy novels but would make a crappy spy.

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