• George

    Good chat. I’m giving it a “4” I think. The sense of urgency was put aside for some character action in the middle which I was surprised at, but then suddenly, though, the final sequence kicked in and I was back with it. However, it does come over a bit too much like a ‘reset’ overall.

    Some thoughts:

    Themes

    The two themes of the series seemed to be “family” and “how our actions change us” (specifically, killing, even if for moral reasons). Right from the first episode, Milner and Carvel’s stories were framed with these, and as the series went on all the characters were viewed in those terms. I think it worked pretty well, and even some of the odd jumps can be seen positively in this light.

    Compression

    Yes, this episode definitely suffered from a bit of compression, not helped by the (good) bit of breathing space that “on the moors” sections got last episode. It recalls last series where the special stone that ‘means you can do anything’ just suddenly appeared in the penultimate episode in Jessica’s hand post-dream, was then mentioned by Arby, and was then Jessica’s tip-off for Mr Rabbit. It just need one more episode of space to stop that being an obvious “look out for this”.

    Grant’s development was a good one (he comes to recognise he’s not Pietre when he shoots Milner and starts crying, “what have I done?”, compensates with bravado for a while, but then softens up to the mother figure – “actions change us” and “family”), but it needed more than 20 minutes. It was saved by Dugdale/Jen commenting though.

    The Deels/Thoraxin development was good, I thought. Like Grant’s storyline, it just needed one more episode to let it breath. All the components are there – the conversation, Carvel at the whiteboard, the reveal – but it got tangled up with everything else, and had to be summarised (‘Donaldson… bad people… control”) a little too neatly as a result.

    So, it was great having that flashback episode to open the series, but it then really needed six full episodes for the main story – which I think would have solved the odd pacing issue with this episode, which messed up the tension-building.

    I wonder: Did Kelly sketch out the ‘present story’ with six episodes in the back of his mind before writing the first episode, and then had to do some compensation at the last moment? Seemingly it’s shooting while he still works on episodes. Hence perhaps things like the stone’s appearance last series, and the things in this series. These things seem much more obvious when you watch than when you are writing.

    Also, there are quite a few deleted scenes knocking around (Lee visiting Geoff; Geoff and an American politician; Dugdale setting up bleach/sheeting in the bathroom to kill Jessica) so there’s probably a bit of an editing/ordering challenge at the root of some of this that is made worse by having only five episodes of ‘main story’ to sequence the elements in.

    Emotional Growth/Shrinkage

    Good call about emotional capacity and shooting skills. As Pietre and and Jessica become more rounded emotional human beings, they lose that robot-like skill. In contrast, Ian and Wilson move in the opposite direction. (“actions change us”) I think it’s meant to be symbolic. Meanwhile, I get your criticisms about the cliched aspects to the car park shoot-out, but I think the focus was on Jessica’s lapse and Ian stepping up. His attempt to persuade Terence to stop by words alone, and then having to shoot, was pretty good.

    Wilson spent a lot of last episode and this seeking reassurance that “you can go back” after what you’ve done, despite Milner’s trajectory (“am I a killer?” and the toll it took on her), and trying to get back in with the original group. It’s only when that failed, and he recognised he was no longer himself (“actions change us”) that he submitted and became what he thought he had become (“we are Mr Rabbit now”).

    By the way, I think Jessica popping in to see Becky was genuine, part of Jessica becoming more able to empathise with others. Having witnessed Carvel cry over Milner and having witnessed Pietre’s shooting, she challenges her saying “it’s not easy to look into the eyes of a loved one dying”, or similar.

    Next Time…

    I assume Becky and Pietre are left by the network because Becky is presumed to be dead from suicide, and it’s assumed that Lee has finished Pietre off (and Lee got wiped before he could tell anyone otherwise). I quite liked the Arby-wakes-up finisher. They kind of have to show that to set you up for the next series without leaving you with a false (“is Arby dead?”) cliffhanger that then gets resolved instantly (“Um, no”) next series: and an Arby-Becky double act could be a lot of fun!

    In the next series, they really need to take it somewhere else – more catastrophic, whatever. Not just another rescue followed by another chase. Wilson’s comments that “It’s never right to take that much life, but some life… to frighten people” actually loop us back around to the first series, where the Shetland outbreak was going to be the false flag that got everyone taking the vaccine. They need to watch they don’t just repeat that. Things need to go really wrong.

    Anyway, definitely up for another one. I think Dennis Kelly has been hedging his bets every time, fair enough. After all, Lee was “definitely dead” in series one, he said, and suddenly there he was. There’s a bit of retconning going on!

    • Paul Brian McCoy

      Lovely response, George! Worthy of a review credit of your own! If there’s another show getting started you think you might want to write about, drop me an email at the Contact link up top and lets see about getting you a slot on here!

      • George

        Thanks for the compliment! Will do.

        I would, of course, have to get out of my habit of only noticing a show’s existence once they’ve been running a couple of weeks… 🙂

        • George

          Although someone really should keep an eye on The Intruders, starting this Saturday.

          Conceptually good with a great cast and creative team – it has Glen Morgan, John Simm and Frank Langella – and being a focused eight-parter is good (I like this trend coming back, Fargo, True Detective, very British approach recalling ‘event television’ thriller-making: Edge of Darkness flashbacks).

          Shame the trailer feels a bit recycled (seems a bit generic-paranormal, like The Strain does, as far as I’ve watched anyway, to the extent that it dilutes/beiges the idea) and the interviews and coverage give the game away it seems. I understand that production companies need to ‘sell’ a show when it’s international – and that the purpose is to lay a foundation for an ongoing profitable series beyond the initial ‘reveals’ – but these days it’s as if the viewers are shown info that would previously have been the “pitch package” for series sales.

          Fingers crossed though!

          • Paul Brian McCoy

            I’m planning on giving it a shot and want to review it. Got to see how the schedule running this place shakes out over the next month or so. Busy busy!

    • Kelvin Green

      You’re more forgiving than I am George, but these are excellent points nonetheless!

      • George

        What can I say? Maybe it’s the goodwill thing!

        The flaws are there, but there they are made more frustrating for the fact that so are all the correct bits, just not quite with the right spacing and arrangement. I suppose I’m giving the episode an extra half point for seeing what they meant to do!

        If i were a teacher I’d be giving out gold stars for “effort”, no doubt…