After attempting to write this a few times without giving much away, I’ve reluctantly decided I can’t talk about this show without talking about it, so please BEWARE SPOILERS, and if you haven’t yet seen part 2, please do so - you really should anyway, because it’s great. See my spoiler free review of Part 1 here
Part two picks up the action where Part 1 left off, with the grizzly discovery of the body of Cannon Dobbs, an apparent suicide. It’s a testament to how well the story has been told to this point that I found myself entirely in Merrily’s corner as she tries to persuade sceptical police and colleagues that there's more to the death than meets the eye. Anna Maxwell Martin continues to impress throughout the episode. She’s got a tough job to do here, in many ways, in that she has to sell a psychological and emotional descent throughout the episode, leading to some scenes where we’re asked to believe in a rational and capable woman making some very questionable decisions, especially in relation to her relationship with Huw Owen (David Threfell, making a welcome return with far more to get his teeth into in this episode) and her daughter. The fact that this is pulled off convincingly is testament to a superb actress matched up with a compelling and believable script.
Also of note in this episode was Siobhan Finneran, as medium Angela Purefoy. I inexplicably didn’t mention her from the last episode, where she had a great scene with Jane Watkins (Sally Messham) Merrily’s daughter. The way that relationship develops in this episode is delightfully creepy, a she manipulates the grief of Jane for her missing father to devastating effect. The really clever part here again is in the writing, in that whilst there’s a suggestion of the supernatural, there’s also the open possibility that there is some form of hypnosis and suggestion at work. Again, it’s a heady fusion of steller direction, skillful writing, and brilliant acting performances.
My only real complaint about the last episode was that there wasn’t much David Threfell, and I’m pleased to report that issue is resolved in spades here. His performance is every bit as brilliant as part 1 had suggested it would be - he brings a no-nonsense, down to earth quality that does so much to sell the supernatural elements. His scenes with Martin are particularly strong, especially in the aborted attempt to cleanse the desecrated church, and later when he confronts Merrily about her injury that won’t heal. The feeling of two good people just being pulled apart by circumstance and personality (exacerbated on Merrily’s side by a still unclearly defined malevolent influence) is both palpable and genuinely upsetting to watch.
And more is to follow, in the form of the stand out scene of the episode for me - in the closing minutes, a blazing row between Merrily and her daughter, that leads to the latter storming out of the house and into a waiting taxi. It’s an inevitable climax, given the way the episode has played out, but it’s still devastating in its impact. Both actors absolutely knock it out of the park, and again, the writing, the writing… this is fiercely unflinching, painfully well observed. Superb.
The concluding scene of the episode, with a praying Merrily apparently being crept up on by an evil manifestation, was a heart in the mouth cliffhanger that left me unsettled and impatient for more, eagerly awaiting part 3.
Is it Wednesday yet?