Fitzg’s Journeys: RA Women Part 2 – Sarah

Fitzg returns on a journey thought the world of RA Women.  This time she focuses on Sarah Caulfield.  Oh boy.

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24 thoughts on “Fitzg’s Journeys: RA Women Part 2 – Sarah

    • Frenz – happy to hear you have a post on the subject planned! Can’t wait! I do think that SC/GoV are worth a return visit. 😀

  1. I personally think one of the huge problems of SC was that fans were biased against her from the beginning, weren’t willing to give her a chance and subsequently weren’t willing to let the story line we were given work for themselves. For long term Spooks fans like myself the first reaction when I learned about the characters was that we had a blonde CIA contact as a love interest for our hero before (Tom’s girlfriend Christine) and that it isn’t very original to introduce such a character again. However, that isn’t Lucas and Sarah’s fault and their story deserves to be judged independently even if it was right to criticise  writer and producers for it. She was dubbed New!Christine or Christine 2.0 before she even appeared on screen.

    Next problem was that in my opinion RA fans didn’t like the idea of a new love interest after Elizabeta. It wasn’t that she was very popular among fans, her role was too small for that, but I think fans were okay with her. A strong and steadfast love for one woman is one of the things that makes RA’s character so appealing. Who wouldn’t want to be loved like that? And now he dropped the woman he has loved for so long and enters this strange relationship. Fans and fanfiction writers agreed, that what Lucas needed was a lot of tender loving care by a good woman, not a fling with a woman like Sarah. When Lucas approached Sarah he acted like a very confident man used to casual sexual relationships, not like someone who hasn’t been with a woman for many years and is still traumatized. He was a different person from series 7 and while that isn’t consistent writing I suppose it is something that needs to be accepted.

    Now the accent comes into play. I suppose it was a bigger issue for Americans than for Brits (the latter were the intended audience!) and it was a non-issue for me as a non-native speaker. I didn’t notice that it was wrong. If it was that bad, surely it deserves to be held against the actress and against that people that cast her but didn’t gave her a language coach to make sure she gets it right. It was again a case of carelessness on the side of Spooks producers and by now that shouldn’t surprise. However, fans couldn’t for their life get over the accent, it totally dominated the discussions and left no room at all for any redeeming features of the character.  To me it seemed they didn’t wanted to accept an obvious flaw and get over it to enjoy the rest of the series. I never understood why. I, too, had hoped for many things to be handled differently, but it didn’t spoil the whole series for me.


    • It certainly didn’t spoil the series for me, either. The Lucas/Sarah relationship wasn’t totally satisfactory; it did have its points, though. It did move the enigmatic “hero” of S7 to an agent whose judgement is open to question. Which is itself not that bad a plot device. But the other plot elements in the ensemble series are entertaining. The accent itself wasn’t what bothered me: it was that it seemed to restrict Ms. O’Reilly to some extent, from fully delivering the character – she was umncomfortable with the accent.

      • I think part of the problem was that the audience saw a Sarah that was totally different to the woman Lucas saw. To start with, the bad accent and the lack of chemistry between them/charisma on her side of course wasn’t supposed to be there.  Her accent was meant to be just fine and sparks were supposed to fly between them from the moment they met. It could have worked, sexual tension doesn’t require that the people involved are on friendly or flirty terms! JT and MH or Guy and Marian certainly weren’t on friendly terms in the beginning and still were hot together and it is hard to determine what went wrong that Lucas and Sarah didn’t get it across.

        And as the story went on, she was revealed to the audience as the baddie quite early on (episode 4?) but Lucas couldn’t have known what we knew. While it was an interesting perspective, it made him look weak and stupid because he kept seeing her and continued to give her the benefit of doubt. Actually they suspected her but weren’t sure and Lucas was asked to continue the relationship to find out more. What he did.


        • Our perceived sense of lack of chemistry on the part of Sarah/Genevieve, might just have derived from the lack of confidence with an accent. Having seen her in Law&Order: UK, with her natural accent, she is a better actress than we appreciated initially in Spooks. Good point, about Lucas tasked to keep on Sarah’s trail. The two were playing a risky game. Actually, the more I watch series 8, the more interesting it becomes.

          Accents are fascinating. Canadians, of course, have no accent (:D ), everyone else has….

          • I don’t have one! You might be right that struggling unsuccessfully to get the accent right might have prevented her from getting into character properly and focussing on her partner. Usually RA is famous for having good chemistry with his female co-stars, it was quite a surprise to see something here that didn’t work for so many people. And as I said, it wasn’t that we didn’t saw enough of them before they started their affair or didn’t saw them being friendly or flirty with each other. Their fights should have been electrifying. Even later, we should have hoped with Lucas that she wasn’t guilty but deep undercover.

  2. Black sense of humour, bccmee! 😀 It would be Interesting to compare Sarah to Connie. Both traitorous. It could be argued that Connie was driven by a personal idealism; Sarah was all about Sarah.

  3. Jane, just thinking about your comment regarding Lucas being ready to forget Elisabeta and fall for (sort of) Sarah. The same fan reactions were expressed for Robin Hood “forgetting” Marian, for the Kate, who was so annoying to RH fans. (So good to see Joanne as Anna in Downton.) As fans/supporters, we can have strong reactions. During this period of no new work from Mr. A, it is also an interim for reviewing work to date, and reviewing initial reactions from fresh perspectives. Not a bad thing.

    • Good comparison! I think Kate in RH was another character who didn’t work (partly) because fans weren’t willing to accept her. Sorry for going of topic, but her character was (like the Sarah character) initially a good idea – someone to identify with who as a villager had suffered from the hands of Guy and the Sheriff. Her complaint that Guy killed her brother was absolutely justified! I’m happy for JF as well that she now plays such a well loved character and that the Kate hate obviously wasn’t her fault.

      With Sarah is wasn’t so much that he abandoned Elizabeta (or the memory of her) but that she wasn’t at all the woman fans wanted for him nor did they had the kind of love they wanted for him.  I think what we all wanted for him was someone who would hold him and console him when he had his flashbacks. Fan reactions are a fascinating subject, as they are based so much on emotions. There seems to be no harsher critic than a fan whose hopes and expectations have been disappointed.

      Hope you do a piece on Maya as well!



      • Jane,
        Might the “disconnect” between the Elizveta and Sarah relationships for fans have occurred because there was no “intermediate” relational step?  The writers needed to “bridge” Lucas to his Lucas 8.0  Sex God self and they didn’t. That’s my perspective anyway.
        Cheers!   Grati  ;->

  4. Jane: “Hope you do a piece on Maya as well!”

    My – o – Maya, that will be a “corker” I’m sure.

    Generally, this discussion and your last one, Fitzg, just make me wonder if there is something in this equation about how you watched a series. Firstly let me say that I, like others, was sensitive to aspects of the writing and performance of Sarah (granted that I had a crush on Elizabeta, probably stemming from my adoration of the version of Anna Karenina where Paloma played Kitty, and could see so much possibility with her and Lucas) not the least of which was the accent (but then I’m kind of used to issues of Australian accents and just have to be able to look beyond or just sob – and actually Meryl Streep, whom you mention, actually gets a bit of an accent induced sad face happening for me in a certain movie set near a certain rock).

    I wonder if, like Jane says about being a long time Spooks fan, one might have a different perspective if you watch the series week to week on your television having waited and waited for it to return and therefore have an investment in the show that somehow, someway, immunises you (to some extent) from being so  hugely repelled by a character like Sarah? Because …. I wasn’t. Believe me, I don’t like everything. I am fussy. I don’t bother with lots of shows. I look deeply and re-watch often (unlike a certain “Judi” I won’t name lol) and really dig analysing stuff until I almost pop a pupil. Like with Robin Hood, I just watched Spooks week by week – I can hardly believe I managed that (and Amazon and I have a much closer relationship these days because week by week is really self abuse!!!) – and so I’m wondering if there is some correlation between levels of outrage against Sarah and whether you encountered her, first, week by week or via one big hit from a dvd box set? Maybe there’s somethng in getting a huge, quick dose of Sarah that makes people more upset … kind of like the difference between a mild tummy upset and food poisoning?

  5. Beengizzied, I’ve watched RH and Spooks both as weekly TV shows, and with the DVDs. However, first glimpse of Spooks was via DVD. First view of RH was weekly TV episodes. I don’t really know whether either was the more influential. I think that the influence of fans on forums and blogs was strong for a while. While repeated DVD views have tended to ameliorate the initial POV of Sarah definitely.

    Not sure about Maya; I haven’t attained the objectiviy yet to attempt any sort of justice to S9. The series as a whole-yes. Maya – not yet.

    • I think it makes a difference if you are a Spooks fan, an RA fan or a casual viewer. You are most likely to be satisfied as a casual viewer because most of the time Spooks manages to be entertaining, to keep you on the edge of your seat, surprise you with it’s twist and gives the impression of being clever (when in fact it is simply so fast that the viewer doesn’t have time to think) and most likely to be disappointed as an RA fan who is not very interested in being entertained by the show itself but in the personal story arc of Lucas and his emotional moments. If those elements don’t meet our expectations, aren’t consistent and don’t work well, it leads to frustration because the thing one has hoped to enjoy most is taken away.

  6. Hi Ftizg,
    Nice post about Sarah–the woman we love to hate.  Having a speech teacher communication background, it was all the diphthongs in her twangy accent that got me. But I digress.

    One thing about the Lucas-Sarah relationship that made me cringe was when Lucas realized Sarah had killed her boss, and she was lying to him, and they were in bed about to make love.   The look on Lucas’ face of disappointment in realizing she wasn’t who he hoped she was, was very sad.  And then, Lucas had to make love with her or she would know that he knew that she killed Walker.  Cringing as I type.  Then after, Lucas talking to his Mi-5 colleagues confirming that Sarah was lying.  He still looks disappointed, but also like he’s getting back into mission operative mode.

    Yes, we wanted better for Lucas, but the Sarah character did move the plot and Lucas character development along as you posit.

    Cheers!   Grati  ;->

    • I don’t think “making love” is the right word for what he did, especially not with him holding her hands over her head. I think for a man it is possible to still fancy the woman enough to perform, on learning the person is not worthy, love and lust don’t simply go away. He also had to to keep up his cover as it was what she expected to happen.

  7. I started watching Spooks as an RA fan, and became a Spooks fan as well. One thing can lead to another…One of the pleasures of the RA blogs has been that going sort-of off topic can lead to such interesting areas (Me + Richard – the intricacies of tailoring; discussions of food everywhere; diversity of fan/supporters; how to write porn!!  😀

    With Spooks, the writers find they put much into the scripts to explain what is happening, then find they must take much out, to fit the timeframe, and trust the viewer more or less, to follow. Writers/producer discussed this on the S7 extra. It certainly does lead to confusion – to “what is going on here???”  (How many times do I watch an episode to have some idea of the plot? A few…there are always gaps.)

  8. I have read how many people did not like SC. But I did. She was no Margaret Hale but SC was an interesting character.  I thought she had a horrible accent but I also thought she played an excellent baddie because at times I thought she loved Lucas…afterall she could have killed him.  And I don’t mind that the producers probably wanted to sexy things up a bit for his character. I thought their chemistry was fine given that they were spies with different alligence, trust issues and lets face it, she was  a murderer. I thought it was a good story. I prefered Lucas with SC than with that Lana or whatever her name was in S9. I did not finish that season so I have little to comment on it but I thought SC was alright as a character.

  9. I have to agree about Sarah/Lucas being more interesting than Lucas/Maya. There were some awfully stupid lines/dialogue provided them, but on the whole, they both managed dramatic credibility. “Honey”!! Yes, it’s a common North American endearment, but it was so overused by the writers – to pound home the fact that Sarah was American. (We know, already! 🙂  )

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