Well, folks, here we are. This is the episode that contains a humongous climax moment of The Thick of It. If you haven’t watched it yet and don’t want spoilers, I would suggest clicking away from this recap. I think that this episode shocks everyone who watches it for the first time because it’s not something we expected would happen. But, when looking back at previous episodes, it’s interesting to see how everything converges to this point. I can’t think of any more vague ways to talk about this, so let’s dive into the meat of the episode. Spoilers abound!
The episode opens with a new policy from Nicola called “Healthy Choice”’ to get the British people eating better. Ollie makes the rather exciting announcement that he has gotten Andy Murray, the tennis player, to endorse the policy. Nicola seems quite pleased about this, despite Terri’s worry that it sounds like nepotism, and says they need to get Malcolm’s approval on this.
Where is Malcolm at this moment? He is busy schmoozing journalists at his surprisingly lived-in home. It’s interesting to see Malcolm in an actual house because we’ve only ever seen him at the office. It’s also interesting that he is lying about where he is. When Ollie calls to get clearance for the Andy Murray endorsement, Malcolm says that he’s on holiday in Thailand. He quickly dismisses Ollie, saying that Andy Murray is fine and he doesn’t want to be bothered again.
As he serves up sumptuous food as a sort of peace offering, Malcolm tells the journalists that he only wants to help them out because print journalism is dying and they might be out on the street tomorrow. The journalists counter with the news that Steve Fleming has been brought back on and that Malcolm might be the one out on the street next. Malcolm denies this, but after what we saw in Episode 6 perhaps he is worried about his position.
With Malcolm on “holiday,” Nicola asks who’s driving the metaphorical bus of Government. Just then, Steve Fleming shows up and is described as the “man who brought them back into power.” Fleming is horrible on a whole different level from Malcolm, acting smarmy and falsely nice instead of shouting to get his way. He requests that DoSAC publish some crime stats as part of a transparent government initiative.
Back at Malcolm’s place, the journalists bring up Steve Fleming again, saying that Malcolm is the one who sacked him years ago. Malcolm says that he is still the one running the show and that it would be much appreciated if they all emphasized his importance. The journalists mention how it seems that the party is on its way out of power and that the real sign of a dying government is when they start rolling out celebrity endorsements.
As soon as the journalists are gone, Malcolm calls Ollie to tell him they need to ditch Andy Murray because it will make them look desperate.
The next day, Malcolm is back in the office and immediately receives the bad news that Andy Murray has launched the Healthy Choices policy on his website. Nicola, too, is furious about this and to make matters worse, the crime stats they published were unverified. Some journalists have found a discrepancy in the numbers and now DoSAC and Nicola are under scrutiny.
For the first time, we get to see Steve and Malcolm together and it’s painfully apparent that they do not like each other one bit. Their conversation alludes to the fact that when Malcolm sacked him, Steve wouldn’t leave willingly and caused a lot of trouble. While Malcolm is focused on fixing the Andy Murray mess, Steve receives word about the problem with the crime stats.
Malcolm and Steve come to shout at Nicola together about the two issues coming from her department. Malcolm says that Steve was in charge when both of these issues arose, so it’s really his fault and will reflect badly on him. What Malcolm forgets is that he made it quite clear to a group of journalists just the day before that he, not Steve, was at the heart of government. The crime stats may be the more important issue that needs clearing up, but everyone instinctively follows Malcolm and focuses on Andy Murray, making Steve utterly furious.
Sure enough, Malcolm’s insistence about his importance in this Government comes back to bite him as journalists call him for comment on both of these messes. He juggles calls, trying to shift blame onto Steve while maintaining that he runs the show. Suddenly, Julius Nicholson appears! We haven’t seen him since the specials and it appears that he has now been made a Lord. He tells Malcolm that they will be having an inquiry into the crime stats.
Malcolm is all over the papers in stories about the problems taking place in DoSAC and how he is important in the everyday running of the Government. He corners Nicola and tries to get her help in covering his tracks. He wants the call that he made to DoSAC to become nonexistent, for her to pretend it didn’t happen if she’s questioned about it. Clearly, he’s worried that this might lose him his position.
Later, both Malcolm and Steve are set to make statements to the press regarding these DoSAC messes. Steve goes first, looking quite calm and collected. When he returns from the press conference, he says he needs to have a word with Malcolm. Malcolm is instantly wary; he’s being backed into a corner the way he’s backed countless people into corners and he can almost certainly see what’s headed his way.
Indeed, Steve doesn’t even have to say the word “resignation” before Malcolm knows what’s going on. Steve gives him his prepared resignation letter to sign and takes away his official BlackBerry and Malcolm is just flailing. Nicola walks right into the sacking meeting and Malcolm pleads with her to say there was no phone call and that he had no hand in this mess, but she runs away. Malcolm fights tooth and nail to keep his position, but it’s too late. The press has already been told and we see the headline on television: “Malcolm Tucker Resigns.” The most affecting thing about this situation is that Malcolm is getting The Treatment that he’s put so many ministers through before.
The news breaks at DoSAC and everyone is jubilant, cheering and opening wine to celebrate. Malcolm is shouting at everyone he can find, but mainly Steve and Julius. As he storms out of Number 10, Malcolm’s parting words are, “You will fucking see me again!” And you’d better believe that we will because there’s just one more episode to go. Will Malcolm be able to redeem himself and regain his position of power? Find out in next week’s recap!