Spooks Series 7 (Review)

spooksWritten in the very best tradition of British drama that drives both plot and character with equal intensity, the seventh series of Spooks brings the gritty, doomsday atmosphere of the conventional spy thriller into a highly polished and almost loving backdrop of 21st century London. The characters are raw, fresh and genuinely interesting and the classic themes of nuclear war, terrorism and ‘the mole at the top’ are portrayed with surprising originality.

spooks-hermione-norrisThe formidable psychology of the show is kept at a constantly high pitch that is conveyed to us by spectacular and powerful acting from the entire cast after Rupert Penry-Jones’ seven year reign as Adam Carter ends in a blaze of car bomb glory. Ros (Hermione Norris) is, of course, possessed by an almost demoniac cocktail of rage and grief that soon freezes over and sinks into every pore of her skin, turning her into a kind of machine that runs on revenge and almost nothing else, though we do occasionally get glimpses of the frightened, and lonely person behind the mask.

Miranda-as-Jo-Portman-Spooks-miranda-raison-27153708-1024-566Meanwhile, following the rape she suffered while in captivity in series 6, Jo (Miranda Raison) has developed an obsessive compulsive desire to run constantly until her feet are bloody. Adam’s death prompts her to return to MI5, where she continues to suffer from severe PTSD that jeopardises several missions before Ros is forced to take her in hand in a rare and moving display of tenderness for the condition of the female MI5 agent that is a true testament to the complexity of her character: ‘the work you and I do is always going to be tough. Much tougher than Harry or Lucas can ever know. This is why you and I have to be much tougher than them to do it.’

Peter Firth’s Harry gets some dazzling scenes this season that don’t involve his usual gig of fighting with the Home Secretary, and it is perhaps significant that when it comes to avenging Adam’s death, it is he, rather than Ros, who pulls the trigger.

series713And finally, we come to filling the huge gap that Adam has left behind. Richard Armitage joins the cast as Lucas North, an agent who is repatriated to Britain after spending eight years being tortured in Russia. Painfully thin, malnourished and covered in Blakean tattoos (a gift from his captors), Lucas is allowed back onto the grid in the middle of a crisis by a reluctant Harry, where he adjusts with surprising but believable ease. He has a short-lived but intense bromance with Adam that makes the first episode a true pleasure to watch, Penry-Jones and Armitage both being exceptional on their own, but together forming a charismatic duo that I hope the BBC will exploit in the future. As we get to know Lucas, he becomes progressively more interesting. Also suffering from PTSD, he is sometimes struck by vivid flashbacks that cripple him completely (for instance being caught in the rain reawakens harrowing memories of seventeen consecutive days of waterboarding). He speaks fluent Russian, has a Russian ex-wife called Elizaveta that he may or may not still be in love with, and runs from all these ghosts with a good-natured friendliness and likeability.

Spooks is beautifully and convincingly acted with the utmost dedication and with awe-inspiring mastery of voice, body language and facial expression from the entire cast. All the characters suffer from intense psychological and personal problems, often both, but come to work day after day, paying tribute to Adam’s belief that it’s work rather than therapy that will help them to deal with those problems. In many cases, particularly Jo’s, this way of thinking is a double-edged sword.

Spooks-00135While the plot of each episode features the usual suspects of Al-Qaeda bombers and Russian nuclear explosives threatening to wipe the UK off the face of the planet, this is done with stunning originality and narrative poise: no outcome is in the least bit predictable, and since this has been the season to blow up Adam Carter, you’re frequently left worrying whether the producers may have decided to let any of our other favourite characters join him at the Pearly Gates. With Russian and American characters in particular, we often find ourselves lapsing into stereotype territory, especially as concerns the former, that risks our failing to take certain events seriously, but we’re somehow saved from this. I’m still not sure why, or if this has anything to do with the spectacular handling of the mole at the top of MI5. This theme runs vividly through the entire series, and, with Tinker Tailor-like brilliance, leaves us almost screaming in disbelief when we find out who it is.

Powerfully gripping from start to finish and overloaded with powerful characterisation and brilliant plot, Spooks is unquestionably one of the finest British dramas out there.

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A note of thanks on the occasion of 1000 views.

Sherlock’s face best expresses my emotions at ladygilraen hitting 1000 views a few minutes ago. I’m dumbfounded, speechless, ecstatic and unlike the delightful Mr. Holmes, grateful. Thank you to all the readers who have kept this blog afloat, especially to my incomparable followers for reading and liking my posts and to the many tourists that have so fortunately (for me) stumbled off the beaten track into this remote corner of the blogosphere. I promise to keep upholding my end of the bargain and will endeavor to give you all ample reason for coming back.

May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks.

ladygilraen

Things we’ll miss about Harry Cunningham

normal A short and woefully inadequate tribute to a great character that was taken from us without a blaze of glory or even so much as a puff of smoke.

1. We’ll miss his alarmingly possessive relationship with his desk.

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2. We’ll miss his terrible jokes.

3. We’ll miss his Italianate temper that sometimes resulted in both Nikki, and inevitably himself, bursting into tears.

4. We’ll miss his propensity for shagging younger women and his occasional, more admirable choices in the girls department.

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5. We’ll miss his love for the feel of whiplash in the morning and the unashamed swigging of ethanol from specimen jars.

6. We’ll miss his appalling taste in music.

7. We’ll miss that cautious but moving half-mentorship half-bromance relationship with Leo.

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8. We’ll miss his deep-set desire to be himself and not his dad.

9. We’ll miss him wearing earphones in the bath.

10. We’ll miss the intensity, the fire, the flame smoldering beneath the alabaster skin.

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11.We’ll miss the rare combination of mature lateral thinking, charmingly immature boyish behavior, rakishness and capacity for love in the same individual.

12. We’ll miss the determination to help others, even if his own odds of surviving aren’t great.

13. We’ll miss the raw way he shows emotion without embarrassment.

14. And we’ll miss everything about him and Nikki; the spontaneous hugging, prodding of noses and occasional twos-ups; the glass-shattering disagreements; the hilarious conversations going round and round; the intellects that fit like pieces of a jigsaw; the protectiveness on both sides; the constant, obvious, inevitable love that never went anywhere.

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‘If I’m ever in trouble, if I’m ever upset, if I ever need to have a film plot explained to me, then the first person I call is you.’ – Nikki.

Thoughts on the new Game of Thrones Season 3 trailer

I feel quite the same way, my lady. Hurray! The first season 3 trailer is here!

I feel quite the same way, my lady. Hurray! The first season 3 trailer is here!

Last season’s gorgeous set of trailers were about high politics and the eternal quest for power. In this first trailer for season 3, we’re left in no doubt that we’re now dealing with the desire for ice-blooded vengeance that has come to possess almost all the characters. The trailer swoops masterfully through every angle of this primordial question, and, very properly, leaves us gasping for more.

Taking the place of Florence + the Machine’s Seven Devils as season anthem, Bones by Ms Mr resembles a haunting echo resonating off the walls of the crypt at Winterfell and creates a savagely primal atmosphere that evokes the funereal ambiance of A Feast For Crows far more than A Storm of Swords. This may seem inappropriate, until you realise that the music is working as a kind of foresight to that feast: we are listening to the sound of crows tearing flesh off human bones; we are watching the story of how all that dead meat got there in the first place. This fact is exemplified by a number of blood-chilling voice-overs: ‘Death is coming for everyone and everything’; ‘The revenge you want will be yours in time.’ Apocalypse Please?

In the space of one minute, we’re taken through major character development that has occurred since last season, some tantalising glimpses of key moments, and the continued presence of the great, eternal themes that have persisted from season one.

Joffrey still appears to be lounging about on the Iron Throne and dabbling in sadism, declaring that ‘everyone is mine to torment,’ a strategically-placed knifing of a table and some mutinous glaring from the still-gorgeous Tyrion assuring us of the rather precarious state of  Joffrey’s benighted rule. Lord Hoster Tully’s funeral at Riverrun looks to be a great, moving treat for devotees of Nordic mythology. In what looks like the ruins of Winterfell, Catelyn is moving closer and closer to her inner she-wolf, with elements of Lady Stoneheart already present. Bran, Arya and Sansa seem to have become even more beautifully intense, this intensity epitomised by Bran going all Dothraki on somebody’s ass and assuring us that the fire at the centre of this show is not going out any time soon. And finally, Daenerys succeeds in silencing her critics with zero yelling about fire and blood and all the appearance of actually doing something (if only she would keep it up) in the acquisition of her army of Unsullied.

Many of the book’s key moments are slipped into the trailer with true grace, their presence not seeming too obvious or too identifiable: the wildlings’ attack on the Wall, Jon and Ygritte’s torrid but adorable romance, and Jaime’s hand, which is presented with a hideous sound effect that could either be him suppressing a scream, or bone cracking, or both. We’re also given a much more intimate look at life beyond the Wall that promises more distinctive wildling characters than we’ve met in the past; including a first look at the toweringly charismatic Ciarán Hinds as Mance Rayder. And finally, we’re given a tiny chocolate morsel in the form of a torturingly short half-second of Sandor Clegane versus Beric Dondarrion, the nocturnal setting of the book translating incredibly well to the screen.

Ciarán Hinds as Mance Rayder.

Ciarán Hinds as Mance Rayder.

Through Ser Jorah’s remark that ‘there’s a beast in every man, and it stirs when you put a sword in his hand,’ we are reminded that we’re not dealing with an isolated series, but with something that has its own place in a saga, the theme of power running through that of vengeance like a river of molten gold. Does possessing a sword mean the power of life and death? Where does power truly reside? Are all our actions motivated, in some way, by power? How many players are there, really, in the only Game that truly matters? Through the game of cyvasse at the trailer’s end, we’re assured that these great themes will keep on developing and will continue to obsess us, as they do the characters. ‘It’s not chance. It’s chess.’

Ten Great TV Performances You’ve Never Seen

This is a tribute to ten truly great performances that most of the public have never seen or even heard of, written with the intention of spreading awesomeness.

10.Jonathan Rhys-Meyers – Gormenghast

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The first (and the greatest) performance in an otherwise mediocre career, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is menacingly and toweringly evil as kitchen boy turned master manipulator and serial murderer Steerpike, whose loneliness, anger and sexual frustration send him on a ruthless quest to rule the society that sees him as a bottom feeder. He alternates between black depression, pulsing scheming and screeching laughter. A psychological mess in a world of madmen, he takes an ecstatic, furious joy in the evil he commits that is both awful and delightful to watch.

9.Claire Foy – Little Dorrit

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Claire Foy’s Amy Dorrit is an entirely convincing portrayal of a small person who loves to see other people happy, even at the cost of her own happiness. Having been a resident of the Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison since her birth, Amy harbours nothing but the greatest affection for a father, sister and brother who take shameless advantage of her and often ridicule her for not spending what little money she has on aspiring to their former, upper-class lifestyle. Outbursts of anger are infrequent, and she walks the streets of her cramped, miserable world with perfect contentment and fulfillment, loved by all who know her. Foy’s performance is masterfully realistic and believable, her face and voice the very image and sound of kindness, her enormous blue eyes intensely expressive and carrying the look and responsibility of a person twice her age.

8.Hattie Moran – Sense and Sensibility

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A performance of enormous emotional maturity, Hattie Moran’s Eleanor Dashwood is forced to wear the pants and pretend not to do it when her father’s death seems to deprive her mother and one of her sisters of even the tiniest knowledge of the value of money, a knowledge which is all the more necessary after they are turned out of the house by an entail and plunged into a newfound poverty. Battling with both her family’s new situation and with her discovery that the man she loves has been engaged to someone else for the past five years, Eleanor wears a good-natured mask of contentment and optimism to spare the people closest to her from experiencing any pain on her account. While Emma Thompson’s earlier performance of the role only makes you annoyed at her stuffiness, Moran presents all this stubborn nobility and silence as something genuinely admirable and inspiring, her gorgeous deep voice somehow evoking both the timelessness of the character, and how quickly she has had to grow up.

7.Maxine Peake – Silk

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Maxine Peake fits so snugly and so comfortably into the shoes of barrister Martha Costello that it is sometimes hard to believe she isn’t Martha 24/7. She’s a turning point in legal drama: a barrister who’s interesting without being an alcoholic and who is also a veritable tsunami wave in court while still maintaining an idealistic view of justice. Using her heart where most of her profession are content to only use their heads, she’s an unfailingly kind champion of the underdog (in all his miscellaneous forms) who believes in second (and third) chances, while still keeping us in no doubt that she’s not the remotest bit like a walkover. So intelligent that it shouldn’t be allowed, Peake carries all this complexity with a poise and meticulousness as characteristic as her blood red lipstick and embodies the spirited air of freshness that permeates the entire series.

6. Stuart Wilson – Anna Karenina (1977)

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Stuart Wilson has everything a great Count Vronsky should have: charisma, good looks (regrettably, this is one role where looks are indispensable) and an enviable ability to convey to us Vronsky’s psychological complexity and development. At the beginning, he’s every inch the unredeeming and badly-behaved rake. His transformation, through his love for Anna, into someone capable of selflessness to the point of trying to take his own life, is one of the most difficult things to convince a modern audience of being possible, and Wilson carries it off with exemplary style that is deeply poignant and rather beautiful.

5. Sinead Cusack – North and South

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With one of the most expressive faces in the business, Sinead Cusack’s Mrs. Thornton is one of many great performances in the BBC’s immortal adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. The wife of a cotton mill owner who commits suicide following bankruptcy, the deep, hard iron in her ancient-seeming northern soul allows her to raise two children in abject poverty and eventually, to see their family name restored through her son John, who is able to regain their former prosperity and to repay her for years of hardship. Though we don’t see any of this in the series, the evidence of it runs through every line in Cusack’s face. Her powerful screen presence and sublime acting combined with those of co-star Richard Armitage make for one of the most charismatic mother-son teams in TV history. She’s a fiercely proud, protective mother and a brilliant businesswoman who is rather frightening and seemingly emotionless, but whose moments of affection are all the more rewarding for being rare.

4.Emilia Fox – Silent Witness

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Often mentioned, but not praised half as much as it should be, Emilia Fox’s performance as forensic anthropologist Doctor Nikki Alexander is an existentialist room of mirrors. Possibly the loneliest character in modern TV, she leads a deafeningly silent life outside the lab, even declaring to/goading a half-mad university shooter that nobody would miss her if he decided to kill her. It’s through her work at the lab that we see more of the many sides of her: the ringing laughter, the dazzling wit and the intolerance of any kind of bullshit. She’s spectacularly complex and tragic, and hasn’t stopped developing for all seven seasons that we’ve known her. Consequently, she’s a tremendous acting challenge, and Emilia Fox’s ability to capture all the myriad dimensions of Nikki and make her so beautiful is a moving thrill that’s no doubt a major contributor to the series’ continued success.

3.Benedict Cumberbatch – Hawking

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Diagnosed with motor-neuron disease at the age of 20, doctoral student Stephen is forced to deal with the gradual, heart-rending collapse of his body and the enthralling potential for discovery in an infinitely large universe that he deeply loves…and that he might be forced to leave before he’s 25. A young (and unknown) Benedict Cumberbatch gives a titanic performance as one of the foremost geniuses of our time with all that greatness still ahead of him, his performance resonating with pathos; his character defined by an intrinsic sweetness that sometimes doesn’t notice the shadow of death, only the joy of life and the bitter horror of having to live it this way.

2. Kenneth Branagh – Wallander

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Kenneth Branagh’s Kurt Wallander is like a whisper with a symphony in its depths. Living a somewhat toxic, unhealthy existence in Ystad, southern Sweden, he has a mountain of awful personal issues that should have landed him on the psychologist’s couch ages ago, including an ex-wife he’s still in love with, a hippie daughter with abandonment issues and a painter father dying of Alzheimer’s. He’s a detective genius, has chronic insomnia, doesn’t eat or wash for days when he’s working a case and lives his entire existence in an exhausted, semi-alcoholic haze. Branagh is mesmerizing, drawing on every mode of expression available to him without actually having to speak, his natural (and colossal, I might add) charisma leading us spellbound around the hues of his grey and blue inner world. It’s a masterpiece arthouse role for a very arthouse series.

1.Damian Lewis – The Forsyte Saga

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Lewis plays Soames Forsyte, a despicably possessive and stiff-collared Victorian who makes the catastrophic mistake of thinking that his artistic and free-spirited wife is just another piece of property that he can command at will. When she proves to be a human being, he subjects her to the most painful psychological, and eventually, physical, torture in his attempts to punish her for not loving him, the consequences resonating further into the future than either of them could have imagined, and destroying lives left, right and center. All this plays out against an enormous backdrop of family feuds and intrigues; Soames’ story being but one half of a sprawling whole. Soames is a repulsive, sneering and utterly unlikeable individual who should inspire more hate than love, but Lewis blends the light and dark with such raw humanity that he inspires just as much pity as revulsion. His performance is a masterpiece that should be mentioned more often, but seems to be utterly unknown to many of his most ardent fans.

Music/life: ‘Quartet’ (Film Review)

Quartet is a rare thing. While it does leave you smiling in contentment like a Cheshire cat, the light is shaded by such sadness and nostalgia that the scales are tipped from comedy to drama fairly often. Nevertheless, the film is uproariously funny, deeply intelligent and blows any other ensemble cast this year completely out of the water with incandescent acting from Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins.

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Most of the film’s plot plays out at Beecham House, a retirement home for musicians that allows for all the beauty and eccentricity that such a name implies: continuing to play the clarinet when you have to stop every two seconds for breath, musing on how you never achieved less than twelve curtain calls, arguing about how you should have sung more Wagner and why, and doing all the stuff you never could during your career because your days were entirely composed of practicing and performing. The arrival of top soprano Jean Horton (Maggie Smith) in the midst of ongoing rehearsals for an annual gala aimed at keeping the establishment afloat, triggers a cautious reunion with ex-husband Reggie Paget (Tom Courtenay) and former colleagues Wilfred Bond (Billy Connolly) and Cissy Robson (Pauline Collins). Together, they constitute a former operatic quartet known for their celebrated performance of the quartet from Verdi’s Rigoletto, and it is almost immediately suggested that it be revived in time for the gala. To adequately describe the drama that ensues, let’s quote Stephen Poliakoff: each of the characters comes face to face with memories.

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Quartet has the rare advantage of great actors working with a great script, something that occurs only too seldom nowadays. Maggie Smith’s performance as Jean is a welcome respite from Her Ladyship the Dowager Countess: she’s mercurial, moving and tragic. Haunted by a Callas-like depressive longing for the voice of her youth, she lashes out acrimoniously at anybody who attempts to breach that magic circle or to have so much as a cursory conversation with her. Her face and eyes are profoundly expressive of grief and regret, and the viewer is conscious, in certain moments, of observing true artistic greatness. It is her best and most interesting performance in years: sad, funny, and effortlessly charismatic. On a less relevant note, the rather cantankerous roles Dame Maggie has been occupying herself with of late are also responsible for making one forget what a beautiful woman she is: in this role, that beauty is present in an almost luminous way and makes her all the more enthralling to watch.

Chemistry wise, Smith is also an ideal match for opposite-number Tom Courtenay, who is positively awe-inspiring as Reggie. In each of Courtenay’s roles, from Doctor Zhivago right up to Little Dorrit, one is always struck by a disbelieving awareness of his near-volcanic screen presence; how he commandingly shifts focus from everything around him simply by standing silent, reflecting. It’s a natural talent that is incredible to watch, but by no means constitutes the sum total of his performance. Of all the characters, Reggie is by perhaps the most multi-faceted, both in terms of his personality and in terms of the universality of music and the role of music in a great artist’s life. In terms of the former, there is one particularly charming scene in which he gives a lecture on opera to a group of teenagers. Utterly without ostentation, he questions them on their tastes in music (most of which he admits to knowing nothing about) before attempting to find something in opera that his audience can relate to. He eventually comes up with this little gem that builds on a joke that every opera fan is familiar with: ‘Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of bleeding, he sings. It seems to me that rap is when a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of bleeding, he talks.’ Reggie’s devotion to his art, but willingness to try to understand the art of others and to find parallels between them, is something that even today’s opera climate needs desperately, and it is a testament to the originality and insight of the script that this aspect of music comes out through the character that is by far most old-fashioned. It is also through Reggie and the re-kindling of his previously-catastrophic relationship with Jean that we witness the tragedy of ‘music or life,’ a choice that every great musician ultimately has to make. Music usually wins, but it is the supreme beauty of this film that great musicians in their twilight years are able to choose life, through music – and actually enjoy it. Courtenay’s performance is both subtle and powerfully dramatic, his exquisite face and voice playing out against each other with perfect equilibrium, and perfect pathos.

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The other, more riotous half of the quartet are as riotous as can be. Billy Connolly is absolutely filthy as the sexed-up Wilfred (filthy in an entirely positive way), his performance a perpetual, glowing river of comic genius and upbeat carpe diem hilarity that work both as a perfect counterpoint to best mate Reggie’s constant brooding and an incredibly strong stand-alone performance. Pauline Collins is also disarmingly dotty, lovable and hilarious as the pathologically amnesiac Cissy, her sometimes alarming memory lapses like a shadow that contributes considerably to the film’s darker nuances. It also wouldn’t be entirely fair not to mention Michael Gambon’s delightful supporting role as Cyril, drama queen and impresario, who likes to recline on sofas in elaborate Oriental dressing gowns telling people to shut up and change their repertoire.

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Staying with cast, director Dustin Hoffman’s decision to cast retired musicians rather than actors in supporting roles works wonders in creating an entirely authentic atmosphere. The kind of mini-society that creates itself when you shut a group of classical musicians up together for any length of time is conveyed with astonishing and moving accuracy, as are the intense seriousness (and the intense laughter) of what goes on in the practice rooms. There is none of the dreadful miming and purposeless gestural pyrotechnics that string musicians and pianists in particular usually have to put up with when watching this type of movie and the train-spotting is great fun. The film’s authenticity is also greatly increased by the fact that the ‘smelling the roses’ thing is not rammed down your throat at all and is implied rather than stated, complimenting the film’s heartwarming universality.

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Quartet is a truly great film. Engaging, entertaining, movingly real, brilliantly acted and brilliantly written, and perhaps above all, refreshing. It is genuinely great material written for older actors; there are none of the clichés of mothers, grandmothers and old maids that national treasures usually have to play simply because they’re old. It gives our greatest actors work that they can actually sink their teeth into, creating an entirely new and original top level in the upper echelons of acting. It reminds us that human drama, tragedy and catharsis are timeless and ageless, and that when all this complexity is played out by people who are old enough to understand it and to understand how it should be portrayed, the time has indeed come for the professionals to take over.

Fear: Silent Witness S15E11+12 (Review)

While Fear does address a controversial and provocative issue with Silent Witness’ usual intelligence and brutal realism, it is rather wibbly-wobbly in terms of structure and writing; and at the episode’s close, leaves you wondering precisely what you’ve just experienced in a way that has nothing to do with the deliberate engagement of an audience’s bewilderment.

Jodie Comer as Eve.

Jodie Comer as Eve.

Following his break-up with Janet, an awful-looking Leo is press-ganged into taking some time off by Nikki and unwilling fellow-conspirator Harry (both once again rather lamentably under-represented in the proceedings) and ends up with his friend Sean, the psychiatrist who treated him following the deaths of his wife and child. Leo soon discovers that Sean is wrestling with the death of fifteen year old Eve, a pro-bono patient with whom he shared a deep bond (in an entirely non-creepy way) and whose death has been put down to Long QT Syndrome, a heart condition that is undetectable post mortem, leading to Sean himself refusing treatment for cancer. As a result of a subsequent deal between the two men that Sean will seek treatment if Leo investigates Eve’s death, Leo is soon half-drowning in a sea of Catholic guilt and violent family frustration that eventually boils down to Eve having died of stress following an exorcism.

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The episode’s ultimate strength lies in shining a spotlight on an issue that most of us, particularly non-Catholics, don’t even think about outside the movies. Exorcism’s complexity is revealed to us by cold, statistical fact in Leo’s assertion that each Catholic diocese is equipped with an exorcist, as well as the rather alarming number of exorcisms that take place each year; and in its opposite, the portrayal of what actually goes on during such rituals. Jodie Comer as Eve is all intense sincerity and cold hysteria (when you see her, you’ll see what I mean) in portraying a young teenager convinced she’s possessed, and the episode’s centerpiece is without doubt her exorcism itself, a deeply upsetting and frankly horrifying couple of minutes that seem like hours.

Fear also somehow finds time to bring us back to the question we’ve been circling around for the whole of series 15: do pathologists understand death? Ultimately, when Leo’s self-assured question that ‘if we don’t understand that [death], then what do we understand?’ is met by an uncomfortable, almost pitying silence by Nikki and Harry, we realise, for sure, what we’ve known all along. Pathologists don’t know anything more about death than the rest of us. In Leo’s words, ‘we’ll never understand why.’

All through this episode, however, you can’t quite shake the idea that the writers are making it up as they go along. The episode whizzes here and there without much explanation, drags inexplicably and often leaves you struggling to ascertain precisely how a certain conclusion was drawn, or how we’ve ended up where we are. The script is a primary school scribbling compared to Death Has No Dominion and Redhill, the presence of two screenwriters not doing much to allay the general confusion.

All in all, despite the wibbly-wobbly script and the somewhat odd ending, Fear accomplishes what it meant to do in terms of showing the many faces and motivations behind exorcism, and could have been the best episode in the series with just a little more effort.