This week’s installment concludes the story, with Smiley’s trap for the mole being put into action very early on in the events. I won’t spoil it by telling you who the mole turns out to be, as you’ll find out quickly anyhow. For good or bad, it is close to the end of the Smiley character. George is an enigma, and quite the opposite of the Bond version of espionage. LeCarre described George Smiley as, “a short portly man of the most unimpressive type. A gait that doesn’t inspire, part of the meek that shall inherrit nothing, certainly not the Earth.” Several accomplished actors have played Smiley in the past, including Anthony Hopkins, David Niven, and now Gary Oldman besides Sir Alec Guiness. Guiness was the only one to deliver a portrayal described as iconic. That may not be fair however, as Guiness was the only one to get the chance in movies of sufficient length to fully explore the complexities of LeCarre’s work.
Smiley continues on with the service after this episode and manages to reinvent a crippled MI6, rebuild the relationship with the Cousins, and eventually force the defection of Karla to the West. At the time that LeCarre wrote these novels, the Cold War was seen as something permanent, having been raging for a full 30 years, and would still rage for 15 more. In retrospect, when we see the eventual end of Smiley’s participation, believing in the futility of the whole game, it seems fitting that it ended soon after George’s departure. When the dust settled in the world of reality, the games played by the spies on both sides had little to do with the eventual outcome. In real life, the Soviet spies out did us at almost every turn, but the failure of their socioeconomic system could not support their own nation. That was the truth of the cold war. The Soviets lost due to their own ability to keep playing being destroyed by what they were.
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.