by Paul Kelly
Hal: “All we are doing is marking time until the inevitable happens.”
Another great character episode, although the season arc itself is a little slow in getting going. I guess I keep expecting Captain Hatch to explode in a burst of malevolent madness. Instead, he just sits there, gently picking people off and manipulating others from afar. Not that I'm complaining -- it's certainly an effective strategy. The Barry Grand Hotel has a higher mortality rate than Midsomer.
It's typical, every week I keep harping on about how irritating Crumb is, only to start liking him the week that he dies. I think his character has fallen victim to what I like to call Annie Syndrome -- the writers try to make a character funny, but invariably turn them into an annoying idiot. Yet it's the regretful, reflective side of Crumb which fascinates. Why couldn't they have nixed the 'chuckles' and concentrated more on the emotional fallout of Crumb's murderous behaviour? Him reliving the slaughter of his sister and niece was a pivotal moment in his development, as was Hal reminiscing over his love for Sylvie and his anguish at killing her. That one scene summed up perfectly the fragility of both men and the impossibility of the task set before them. Yet Crumb genuinely seemed to want to quit -- even if it was initially just to impress Alex.
Although Crumb asking Hal about his relationship with Alex was just a ruse to test the proverbial water before launching his own frontal assault on Alex's affections, he did make a valid point: Alex does seem to be an indestructible version of Sylvie. Alex is also breathtaking, curious, mischievous, opinionated, delicate, and foul mouthed. And we already know from last season that Hal likes her. In fact, his inability to feel worthy of anyone's love at the moment is probably the only thing keeping them apart. Alex clearly admires his strength. Which makes it something of a tragedy that Hal's struggling to keep his darker urges in check. Although evil Hal isn't in full control yet, he's showing his face with disturbing regularity.
Like Mitchell and Annie before them, Hal and Alex seem like a couple destined for failure. Hal's confidence in ever living a normal life is currently at an all time low. Despite initially wanting to help Crumb, Alan and Bobby, he was tonight forced to admit total defeat. Worse still, he's started to think of himself as irredeemable. Alex, thankfully, still has a sliver of hope. Her awkward date with Crumb was an attempt at forcing 'normality' upon herself. Instead, all it did was push Crumb over the edge and lead to his eventual death. Crumb was ill equipped to cope with the incessant battle of good and evil warring within -- so he instead took his chance at the Russian Roulette table and lost. Maybe Hal was right. Maybe they are all just killing time until the inevitable happens.
Which is a shame because I really enjoyed those brief moments of domestic bliss at Honolulu Heights, with Tom asleep on Hal's shoulder, and Bobby and Crumb sat around the table playing Flaming Orc. For a moment, it almost seemed as though Hal's plan was working. Yet by the end of the episode, three of them were dead. Would they have died had the series not been cancelled? It seemed so pointless to lose all three at once. Alan obviously had it coming, but Crumb's death came totally out of left field. Has his whole purpose for existing been simply to push Hal over to the dark side and reinforce the point that real change is impossible? Has their desire to be human been a pipe dream from the very start?
Bobby's death I did find affecting. Tom really seemed to have made a difference. This was the second of two excellent character episodes for Tom. Whereas last week revealed the extent of Tom's insecurities, tonight was all about rebuilding his confidence. In Pie and Prejudice, Larry was the example which Tom looked up to. Tonight, it was Tom who played the unexpected role model. Tom's always comparing himself to Hal -- but let's face it, compared to Hal, most of us would look shabby. Yet, compared to Bobby, Tom had it all. Real friends. A good job. His own house. Things which Bobby has never had. I loved their bonding moment under the table, and Tom buying him a Bell Tone 500 off eBay. What a shame Hatch had to go and spoil it all.
I have to confess, I'm a little nervous about how this season's going to end. With just two episodes to go, the action is really yet to start. These past two weeks – although enjoyable – have felt a little like filler. I was hoping that cutting the episode count from eight to six would mean a leaner, more focused season. Instead they seem to have short changed us on story. Here's hoping they pull it out of the bag next week. Assuming there is a bag and there's something in there to be had.
Bits and Pieces:
-- Way to go Tom, leaving a complete novice in charge. I know Hal's currently (and completely unrealistically) running the place, but still.
-- There are 35 registered werewolves out there, with an estimated 35 rogue. Plenty of story potential there. Unfortunately, in two weeks there'll be no show left with which to explore it.
-- Is Hatch finished with Rook now that his planned massacre failed to materialise? Or will Rook call again for more tips on how to reinvigorate his beloved department?
Hatch: “It's like Battersea bloody Dog's Home in here.”
Bobby: “Mr Rook always says that I'm a savage and deadly predator that society should be protected from. He must be right, he drives a Lexus.”
Hal: "She didn't look frightened or surprised: just disappointed. She told me not to blame myself, she said it was stupid of her to think she could change me. I agreed."
Alex: “Ian is fascinating. We've already covered loads of topics.”
Crumb: “My favourite eleven cheeses.”
Alex: “Tell me more about flaming dork.”
Tom: “I might have exaggerated a bit about some of the things that I've done. Like, I weren't engaged to Vanessa Mae, and I ain't got a commonwealth medal in the discus.”
Four moor peaces eye rote, sea hear.