16 January 2015

TV: Death in Paradise IV.2

It's quite pleasing (and also possibly a bit sad) that I'm reaching a stage now where whatever I watch, I recognise at least someone in it. With shows like Broadchurch, that's hardly an impressive feat if you've switched on BBC One or ITV over the last five years, but even in this week's episode of Death in Paradise, I knew the vast majority of the cast, which is what made me think. 

There's Will Mellor, who's done quite a lot, but I know him best from White Van Man; there's Hetti Bywater, obviously from EastEnders; there's Dean Lennox Kelly (Shakespeare in Doctor Who); there's Joel Fry (White Van Man, Plebs (not that I watched it, don't worry!), Twenty-Twelve and W1A); and finally there's Simon Day, who played an ageing playboy in Hustle five years ago. In fact, the only member of the guest cast I wasn't familiar with was Claire Goose.

This was Josephine Jobert's introductory episode as Florence Cassell, but I didn't think she was given the opportunity to show herself off at all. For the majority of the action she was sidelined with either Dwayne or Camille. She really had very little interaction with our main character - Kris Marshall's Humphrey Goodman - at all. I think that should have been key to this episode, so it's a shame it was missing. The character was given a few nice character moments, but as a result of being ferried between plotlines, I came away feeling I didn't really know who she was at all. With all due to respect to writer Simon Winstone, perhaps Rob Thorogood should've taken this one. One more quick point that struck me: at the end, when Humphrey gathered all the suspects together, Florence asked Camille why, and she basically fobbed her off with "it's just what he does". If you think back to the first episode of last series, Ms Borday, I think you'll find it was you that suggested it to him!

Elsewhere, the main plot is good enough. Oddly for me, I correctly guessed that Karl would've had something to do with it. I'm focussing on who it definitely can't be nowadays. Although he was still an open suspect to Humphrey and co., we the viewers had actually seen him arrive and find Jake dead. That was how I knew he'd be tied up in it. By about the halfway point, I was lurching between the victim committing suicide or having been placed there, already dead. I managed to guess the father/daughter plot too, surprisingly enough!

All the revelations that come out at the end were really unpredictable though, and Winstone's character work here convinced me that he should still be writing for the show. The way he had played everyone up together and apart throughout totally made sense in light of all the facts. It turned out Karl was Sylvester McCoy-level manipulative, bordering on evil. It was quite a shocking and harrowing story - murder for the sake of the one you love, but with a twist. Karl never thought Jake was good enough for Katie, Hetti Bywater's Jess being the evidence of that. But telling him he had a terminal illness just so he'd kill himself... that's really cold.

But then it was somewhat undermined by the closing scene of Humphrey arsing about on a surfboard. I understand to end on a complete downer would be against the tone of the show, but this was too far the other way for my liking. Once the main business was concluded, it was never mentioned again, not even a brief word between any of the leading cast. Perhaps Florence could have commented about it being much more friendly at her old posting? But anyway. I like all these little scenes that give the show its unique personality. The Humphrey and Camille chase sequences are a prime example, and the second instance certainly paid off the first well.

All in all, a strong episode, with really dark undertones, that doesn't quite give Jobert the introduction she deserves but a quality addition to the range. In fact, it almost feels like there's been an episode missed in between this and the last, as if the order was switched? Oh well, next time we've got man of the moment David Bamber! Thursday can't come soon enough.

Actually, scrap that. Just seen Tyger Drew-Honey's in it too.

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