Thursday, November 29, 2012

Falling in Love is Against the Rules

Thriller the Thursday

A murder investigation leads the team to a series of private parties, forcing Sam and Annie to pose as a married couple in an attempt to infiltrate a wife-swapping subculture.

The review for "the Bombing" can be read here.

The relationship between Sam (John Simm) and Annie (Liz White) has been a slow-burn, and while both are aware of their mutual attraction, and have both been tempted on numerous occasions to follow through on their bond, they have been met with roadblock after roadblock in their attempts to come together. Their role play here is likely to do one of two things: bring them closer together or drive them further apart, all depending on how far they force themselves to go in their ruse and how awkward the situation becomes.

Sam begins worrying that he's losing his connection to 2006 when the television gives him only static, cutting off the flow of information from his doctors to him. Losing contact with those taking care of him, Sam is effectively marked for death, and his desperation to alleviate the situation, to fight for his life, is apparent as he struggles with the television's antenna to establish reception, shouting "don't you dare leave me here on my own" as he fights a futile battle to save the last remnant of home he has left. Now trapped entirely within the confines of 1973, Sam throws himself into an investigation involving Beauvoir Cosmetics representatives, relating to the fact that his aunt Heather (Katherine Kelly) had been one as well, and using his yearning for family as motivation to protect these women. Through the investigation Sam eventually has a run in with his aunt, though she doesn't recognize him, and attempts to connect with her, to make sure that those left behind in 2006 are still fighting for him, but instead gives off the impression that he's chatting her up. Heather rebuffs Sam, threatening him to stay away, and Sam is left fighting back tears, realizing that, even should he find his parents again, there really is no way for him to get back home. Everything falls apart for Sam, and he genuinely begins to doubt whether or not he has imagined his life in 2006 and his inability to hear about his comatose situation is his 1973 mind regaining sanity. Instead, Sam sees his aunt Heather on the television, his connection to 2006 restored, and he realized that she, and the rest of his family and friends, will always be there for him, even when he isn't aware of their presence.

A running theme throughout the series has been Sam's attempts to bring modern techniques to old-world policing, and here he spends a good portion of his time trying to convince Gene (Philip Glenister) that surveillance equipment has a place in their work despite Gene's claims that it's unreliable, time consuming, and incredibly boring. Like the rest of Sam's ideas, it is initially twisted for other purposes as Ray (Dean Andrews) uses it to listen in on Annie in the washroom, but eventually Gene comes around and begins lending it the credence it deserves. During Sam and Annie's undercover operation, Gene bursts through the doors nearly destroying the ruse under the claim that Sam had invited him, only later to reveal that Sam's radio has stopped working and Gene needed to know what was happening inside. Sam's surveillance equipment here is a double-edged sword, as it allows Sam and Annie to pursue more risks in a dangerous situation, knowing that Gene will remain in contact with them, but when the equipment fails, Gene is left either to assume that the operation will run smoothly without him or that his people have been killed, and it's questionable for him whether or not the risk to his team is worth the ease of information gathering.

Gene recognizes the flower held in the victim's hand as "la fleur de mort," the calling card of a serial killer that he had tracked down a few years back who had later died in prison. While there is some discussion about whether Gene had arrested the wrong man, or if there might be a copycat killer, the connections to the current case are tenuous at best, and, in the end, it appears to be nothing more than a red herring. The inclusion of this shortened plot detracts from the rest of the story as there's not enough time to focus on why it might be important at all, and it would have been best served on the cutting room floor.

Somewhat out of character for her, Annie grows steadily more and more out of control in this episode, beginning from her chasing down Beauvoir Lady Denise (Georgia Taylor) with unnecessary roughness, leading a surprised Sam to tell her to go easy. While Annie taking charge of her situation could be viewed as her trying to make a name for herself in the department it instead comes across as insubordination as she ignores Sam's warnings again and again. In Sam's hesitation to attend Roger's (Nicholas Palliser) party, Annie volunteers them and with every passing moment seems to grow more genuinely seduced by Roger's advances. Sam tells Annie that, with a single word from him, they will leave the party, as the danger in their situation is too great to ignore and he doesn't want either of them getting hurt, but when Annie is forced to remove her clothes in a moment she's not comfortable with, and Sam suggests they leave, she refuses, pressing the night's events on. Even when Gene arrives, and the party turns aggressive, forcing Sam to offer to take Annie and Gene and leave, Annie tells him that he's free to leave the party, but that it would be without her, and while her determination to continue her investigation is admirable, it's also deeply stupid. In the end, it's Annie's persistence that closes the case, but keep in mind that she had lead Roger on to believe that she would have sex with him, entering into his bedroom alone, wearing nothing but her under garments, all while under the impression that he was a serial killer of young women.

The majority of the regular cast does well enough in this story, though White falters slightly with Annie's teeter-tottering storyline. There's a good bit of acting from Meryl Hampton as Denise's mother, giving power to an interview between her character, Sam and Gene, making an impression on the episode without appearing beyond her single scene.

Richard Clark opens the story in Sam's dream of a childhood illness, introducing us to his aunt Heather. The dream uses a series of slow panning shots with quick dissolving transitions, creating a very ethereal quality to the scene that contrasts nicely with Sam waking up as an adult, the camera moving with him as he sits up in bed to see his television on static. Ray no longer appears to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, though there's also no indication of how much time has passed between this episode and last, though Annie's behavior is off in this story as well. The pacing of this story is very odd, slow to get started and later rushing through the bulk of the investigation with very little time left to wrap things up in the end. The reveal of the killer in the end is also very messy, and would have benefited from more ground work having been set up before hand.

Writer Ashley Pharoah has a focus on the fact that Sam is something of a ladies' man, sprinkling comments from both Chris (Marshall Lancaster) and Annie throughout the story that he has a way with women. Chris comes to Sam asking for dating advice, stating that "women like [Sam,]" though Sam's best advice is to remember that his date is "a human being, just like [Chris]...she'll be nervous, same as [him]." Later in the story the lunch lady even puts aside something extra for Sam, a source of mockery for Annie, and it's strange that this has become something that Sam is known for, as it hasn't really been addressed at all throughout the series and seems to come out of nowhere.

Sam seems to have finally realized his feelings for Annie, and while it looks as though it may be too late on her end, there's no doubt that the two will come together in the end.

The review for "Coercion" can be read here.


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