Domestic Violence, Dogs, & Determined Women in HOUNDS OF LOVE

Hounds of Love. 2017. Directed & Written by Ben Young.
Starring Emma Booth, Ashleigh Cummings, Stephen Curry, Susie Porter, Damian de Montemas, Harrison Gilbertson, Liam Graham, & Lisa Bennet.
Factor 30 Films
Rated R. 108 minutes.


DISCLAIMER: This discussion contains major spoilers for the film, so if you haven’t actually seen it yet, turn back. Lest ye be spoiled, forever!

HOUNDS1There’s a horrifying real life feeling about director-writer Ben Young’s searing dramatic horror Hounds of Love. Despite the fact it’s a gruelling 108 minutes of cinema, the film brought me back to it, again and again. Because underlying all the terror is a well written story, the plot and its themes digging at the darkest parts of our humanity, the most primitive bits in the brain.
While this tale might feel familiar to those who know the story of Cameron and Janice Hooker, who abducted Colleen Stan, it isn’t actually based on that, and it’s easy enough to see how far the two are apart. Even if Young got the seed of the idea from this, which I’m not sure he did at all, there’s not much of a real connection outside those large themes at play.
At the core of the film is the question, what if some love is based in a dichotomy of power and desire? One lover, willing to do anything and everything for the other, despite how horrifically far things go. When a husband and wife serial killing team, John and Evelyn White (Stephen Curry & Emma Booth), kidnap young Vicki Maloney (Ashleigh Cummings) off the street, the girl is drawn into the psychosexual dynamic between them, and we wait to see if she can survive it, or if it swallows her whole.
HOUNDS3Love. Power. Obsession. Desire, or lust. Domestic violence.
So much comes together in the premise that Hounds of Love could easily get lost amongst its own thematic considerations. Yet it never does. We start out with normality, everywhere: late ’80s, in Perth, Australia, on a regular, slightly lower class neighbourhood where people come and go and nobody sticks their nose too far into the business of others except only for a momentary glance of their lives. This is where the everday-ness, the banality, the ordinary qualities of the evil we come to experience are lying in wait in these neighbourhoods, OUR neighbourhoods – this could be anywhere, not just the Land Down Under – right under our own noses.
This is where we cross into the domestic violence and the misogyny that’s everywhere, though particularly in smaller neighbourhoods, exactly like this one. To what lengths can the control of misogyny go? John and Evelyn’s relationship is the centrepiece. The misogyny internalises in Evelyn, whose treatment of Vicki is then reflective of his mistreatment against her as his wife. She has no power in her relationship, so the danger of Vicki being there is that Evelyn wields power only over her; she doesn’t even treat the girl as good as the dog.
This brings up an important parallel, considering the film’s title. Women are juxtaposed with dogs. We see that Evelyn wants a child, and John isn’t interested. He points out that her dog has shit on the floor, illustrating it as a symbol of her inability to take care of a child. In a way, he sees Evelyn as that dog, a helpless creature at the end of his whims, and when the dog shits on the floor it’s the same as if she’d done it. Moreover, the treatment of dogs here by John is also indicative of his inhumanity. As a society, we often gauge someone’s compassion for animals with their compassion for their fellow humans, something John obviously lacks. Finally, dogs and humans are very much alike, here in particular women and dogs, in that their loyalty can be undying, no matter how awfully they’re treated by those lording over them in the power-role of master. Just as the beaten dog wanders like a zombie back to its owner, so does a beaten wife like Evelyn never, no matter how mad or fed up or abused she is, leave her husband, coming back solely out of worry for survival, among other things.
HOUNDS4John sees women as interchangeable, and this is ultimately what ends him, as his psychological grip on Evelyn finally looses and lets go. Before that happens, Evelyn, as his wife, is figuratively chained to that bed. Whereas Vicki is there physically, the wife is caught there symbolically. Her shackles are invisible yet no less actual than those around the wrists of the girl. She’s likewise given the chance to have a child, symbolised by the kidnapping, forcibly confining Vicki in a sick, twisted, Freudian nightmare – rotten and bastardised visions of the father, the mother, and the daughter. Luckily, both Vicki and Evelyn are unwilling to let the power of a man hold them down. Despite the wife’s complicity in what has gone on, it’s still a testament to her innate strength that she’s able to do the right thing after all.
One of the most telling moments is a scene where John runs into a few local lads to whom he obviously owes money. What we witness is how, around other men, he is a pitiful creature. He has no power over other males, so he exerts a brutal power over women. This, like Evelyn with Vicki, is his only means of gaining control or power within his sad life, conflating his personality with misogynistic violence.
On top of all this is a minimalist setting and score, to an extent, the dialogue, as well, avoiding too much fat on the bones, offering only the meatiest bits to help the viewer gradually sink into the devastating characterisations. in addition, the minimalism is punctuated and thrown into a disrupted state of chaos when bursts of harsh violence explode across the screen, female bodies taking the brunt of wounded male ego and patriarchal control, unpredictable at times as much as it is savage.
HOUNDS2Hounds of Love is, hands down, one of the best horror films of the 2010s. Surprisingly, this is director-writer Ben Young’s debut feature, only making me more inclined to keep an eye out for whatever he does next. He’s a fascinating talent. He could’ve easily turned this into an exploitation flick, which isn’t always bad. And he certainly verges on it, teetering on the edge. But he hones in on the drama above the violence, though the violent elements remain in tact. This allows the characters, the performances of those characters, and all the aesthetic treats shine, rather than falling into a mess of blood and horrific imagery that serves no purpose. Young helps us take a look at the control within a dangerous, psychosexual relationship, inherent in domestic violence and the seduction of misogynistic men.
This is a must see, and no better time than Halloween! Watch this alone, in the dark, somewhere quiet. Let it sink into you, under your skin. If you aren’t affected, maybe check your pulse.


ABSENTIA; Or, the Three Billy Ghosts Gruff

Absentia. 2011. Directed & Written by Mike Flanagan.
Starring Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine, Justin Gordon, Morgan Peter Brown, James Flanagan, Doug Jones, Scott Graham, Connie Ventress, & Ian Gregory.
FallBack Plan Productions/Blue Dot Productions
Rated R. 87 minutes.

Screen Shot 2017-10-21 at 1.44.16 AMI grew up on ghost stories, either from the books of Stephen King and R.L. Stine, or around the Scouts campfire on a journey into the wilderness. Ever since I was young, I’ve been fascinated by ghosts, the macabre, all sorts of morbid stuff. As I get older, though I enjoy a gruesome horror, I’m more drawn by the subtle, quieter stories of terror. What’s more, the way the ghost story crawls out of the shadows of the past into modern day is of particular interest to me.
Absentia tells the story of Tricia (Courtney Bell), whose husband Daniel (Morgan Peter Brown) went missing seven years ago, who’s pregnant now, trying to figure out how to live her life; keep searching for him, or give up, declaring him dead in absentia. She’s sort of falling in love with the policeman on the case. When her rehabilitated drug addict sister Callie (Katie Parker) arrives, things start feeling a little easier, they reconnect. But the nightmare’s far from over.
There are amazing bigger budget films with ghosts at the centre, such as The Others (still relatively lower budget compared to massive Hollywood productions at only $17-million); Event Horizon which I consider a haunted house movie in space ($60-million); Kubrick’s The Shining cost $19-million to make in ’79-’80; Beetlejuice, another one I love, cost $15-million in the late ’80s; and there are a bunch more. But with a budget of less than a million, Mike Flanagan crafted an atmospheric, haunting story into a quietly terrifying look at fear of the unknown, grief, and one of the best modern Gothic horrors of the 21st century, like a dark urban fairy tale.
Screen Shot 2017-10-21 at 1.49.25 AMFrom the start there’s a deep atmosphere, a definite mood. Introducing us to the sad story of these two sisters, one with her missing husband, the other trying to stay off heroin. But then we get to the urban terror, how Flanagan turns a familiar neighbourhood area – the bridge tunnel – into a genuinely haunting space. We’ve all walked through these sorts of places, living in cities and big towns, going under a road, from short to longer tracks stretching on in the dark. Here, they become fearsome, ghost-filled haunted house-like areas, only more claustrophobic and almost more unnerving being outside in the daylight, sitting there, waiting.
This sets up the urban landscape where Flanagan tells his Modern Gothic tale, of grief, of dealing with death and its unknown essence. The entire setup of Daniel being declared dead in absentia epitomises the fear of the unknown that we all have, even those of us who aren’t particularly worried about death; it’s always coming, for all of us. The realm beyond the tunnel is this unknown terror – of an unexplained death, of what comes after death, a literal embodiment of a scary, bottomless, existential void.
Screen Shot 2017-10-21 at 2.25.31 AM

You can see me?”

Screen Shot 2017-10-21 at 2.19.42 AMI’ve written a lot lately about the urban Gothic, particularly in film. It’s an interesting evolution of the Gothic genre. Because before that it was Southern Gothic, further back merely the Gothic. And these were very different than a story like Absentia, set amongst the sprawl of a city, suburban neighbourhoods, the urban spaces most of us recognise all too well. Urban Gothic brings all those old ghosts, the folklore, the fairy tales of a time before modernity, and postmodernity, into these new spaces. To see them interact as one unified whole is often an exciting experience.
How does a person disappear without a trace, a grown man, in an urban landscape? This is a central question at the heart of the film. Flanagan tackles the fear of death, yes, but it’s also the fear of disappearance in the social order, in the urban city centre, lost amongst all the other bodies, forgotten in the spaces between city streets, just beyond reach.
The fact the people taken into the tunnel aren’t sure people can see them anymore is symbolic of individual alienation in the urban world; they still exist, they’re still there, but they’re invisible to us, barely noises on the walls of the tunnel, and when people can’t see us anymore we become prey for the unseen, the unknown, unspeakable things below the surface. It’s here we see that old, pre-modern evil seeping into modernity, postmodernity, from an earlier time, paved over by asphalt and encased in cement, but just under the exterior, lurking in its supernatural power.
Screen Shot 2017-10-21 at 2.26.19 AMScreen Shot 2017-10-21 at 2.35.35 AMMy favourite aspect of Absentia is the connection to folklore and fairy tales. When Callie first arrives to see her sister Tricia, she gives her a kid’s book for the baby: Three Billy Goats Gruff. This connects everything in a beautiful, fantastical circle. First, the bridge’s tunnel itself, reminiscent of the troll under the bridge in the fairy tale. In this sense, the unknown creature in Flanagan’s film is a version of this troll, taking anyone who gets too close, anyone who doesn’t respect its existence. Then there’s the offerings made near the tunnel, by Jamie Lambert (James Flanagan), trying to find his father Walter (Doug Jones). He kidnaps local pets to feed to the creature in that other realm. This is a parallel to the troll in Three Billy Goats Gruff, threatening to eat anyone who crosses the bridge; Jamie tries appeasing the creature as each of the goats do the troll.
However, in the end – unlike the happily ever after of fairy tales – Absentia finishes with the three goats (Daniel, Tricia, Callie) going missing. There is no happy ending. The troll here, the creature, is not knocked off its bridge, the terror lingers. And like the inescapable nature of death, the other world beyond our own continues taking people, swallowing them whole at will.
Not only one of the best ghost films since 2000, just one of my favourites period. Perfect for any Halloween season viewing. Turn the lights down, let yourself get creeped out. Just keep repeating: it’s only a fairy tale, it’s only a fairy tale, it’s only a fairy tale.

WE GO ON: Traumatic Fears & the Urban Gothic

We Go On. 2017. Directed & Written by Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton.
Starring Clark Freeman, Annette O’Toole, John Glover, Giovanna Zacarias, Laura Heisler, & Jay Dunn.
Filmed Imagination
Not Rated. 89 minutes.

IMG_0366There are so many ghost stories out there, from literature to film, that it’s hard to come up with something original. Same can be said about all stories, everything’s just a retelling, a reinvention of an ages old archetype or structure. Yet there are always writers and directors out there coming up with new ways to show us a glimpse of supernatural horror, ways that inspire us, maybe revolt us depending on the circumstances; in this case, it takes us into the concept of life after death and how we deal with the death of others, our own impending death someday, somehow, somewhere we don’t know.
Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton deliver We Go On for those who love ghost stories and want a different perspective. They tell the story of Miles (Clark Freeman), a man shattered by the death of his father in a car accident, forever plagued by the fear of death, worrying it’s a big, black void from which there’s no coming back, making life feel nearly claustrophobic. When he places an ad with a reward of $30,000 for any concrete proof that “we go on,” Miles gets far more than he bargained for after a man Nelson (Jay Dunn) contacts him, saying he can show him a ghost.
The film takes up the Gothic mantle, set in an environment full of urban decay, and it retains that classic feeling of the ghost story while trudging through very modern territory. We Go On takes Miles and the audience on a journey through the existential crisis of fearing death, examining trauma, death, as well as how we manage to overcome them both. That is, IF we’re able.

“Your world will end. We don’t get to know when.”

The fear of uncertainty is a powerful thing. This often extends to our ideas of the afterlife. For those of us who aren’t religious, there can come with this a sense of not knowing what will happen when we die. Not that the religious KNOW, but they BELIEVE, and this makes all the difference. Myself, I don’t fear death, it’s more like a release after – hopefully – a long life. However, I totally understand why some fear it. Most times this comes out of an absence within the absence of belief; if you can’t reconcile yourself with death as, for all intents and purposes here, an atheist, then there’s a gap in the concept of life and death, a glaring, empty space where fear can grow.
This is where Miles exists, in this space, and other spaces like it. He fears death, seemingly because of its uncertainty. At the same time, he wants to believe. This leads him on his quest. He’s traumatised on top of it, exacerbating his fears. So it’s interesting to watch how affected he is by this quest, too. He wants to find something, to negate his big fear. But the dark irony comes via the fact that, once he DOES find what he’s looking for it’s altogether terrifying, more so than any death where we just disappear into a void of nothingness.

“I’m haunted”

We Go On
is the perfect example of a modern urban Gothic horror. Miles actually specifically points out his phobia of any “decay or rot.” He’s absolutely horrified by cars, he hates being in them, and it only gets worse if he’s not the one driving; even then, he barely drives himself anywhere, if at all. What’s interesting is that, within this traumatic phobia of death, there’s a fear of the modern, of the decay/rot which comes with time, with modernity. He fears the car, one of the largest, most significant symbols of modern invention over the past few centuries.
When our protagonist finally sees ghosts, they occupy a much different space than usual, in an odd place, past the airport. A decayed set of urban ruins, left behind by the rich when the airport was built; another instance of modernity setting in, disrupting. In general, Los Angeles is depicted as grey, dull and dreary, a dreaded landscape where the sun does shine, but slightly obscured, hidden behind clouds on the city skyline, the pollution of the planes jetting onto the air. In this sense, the urban landscape with its Gothic sprawl of supernatural elements mirrors the headspace in which Miles find himself.
Traditional haunted houses are subverted, replaced by drug squats, schools, the airport, and other atypical locales, the main stand-in for a horror monster – aside from the ghosts – being Miles’ fear of the car as an object of death. The car/the vehicle also breaks the barrier between living and dead, an intriguing symbol. The radio comes alive with ghostly voices as Miles drives. A bus intercom does the same later. At home, his TV appears on only to him and no one else. Technology versus the old world of ghosts, modernity juxtaposed against the past.
IMG_0376There’s a fantastic end, both morbid in one sense, beautiful in another. Miles and his journey come to a conclusion. Some may not be happy with it, others, like myself, may love it. Visually, the nightmare that opens the film comes full circle, also closing the plot off thematically. It’s not what you’d expect, and that’s refreshing in and of itself.
We Go On is on top of Father Gore’s list of best horrors in the past few years, likely in the top 25 since 2010. There are plenty of awesome horror films lately, despite what certain critics and fans will try and tell others. And in the indie world, horror is absolutely killing the competition, in any genre. This film most certainly belongs up there with the best of them lately.
Put this on your Halloween marathon list! Spook yourself alone, or get a couple friends, turn down those lights, let the ghosts get under your skin. Let’s hope Mitton and Holland do more genre work in the future, because they’re obviously a talented team with fresh perspective.

Mr. Mercedes – Season 1, Episode 10: “Jibber-Jibber Chicken Dinner”

AT&T’s Mr. Mercedes
Season 1, Episode 10: “Jibber-Jibber Chicken Dinner”
Directed by Jack Bender
Written by Dennis Lehane & Sophie Owens-Bender

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Ice Cream, You Scream, We All Scream” – click here
* Recap-reviews of Season 2 to come on release, as it’s been confirmed the show’s renewed!

A different opener for the finale. Suddenly, in the dark, former Dt. Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) wakes to “Danny Boy” playing. Nearby is a trail of blood smeared through the hallway, out into the kitchen, everywhere. The side of the house is covered in a streak of crimson. Outside is a wheelbarrow with an eviscerated corpse in it. In the trees, a bloody leg. The Mr. Friendly jingle plays. In the driveway, Bill sees his daughter as a girl, Holly (Justine Lupe), and Jerome (Jharrel Jerome) all eating ice cream with the ice cream man himself, Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway) who greets him with a pleasant, sinister smile.
Then there’s Ida Silver (Holland Taylor), she takes his gun, tells him to go “have some fun” while Mr. Mercedes serves him up his favourite fudge treat.
But then his daughter’s taken by Brady. When he goes back inside, everybody in his life is dead, murdered brutally. He’s quickly attacked by a rabid, beast-like Brady who tears him apart, ripping his flesh, eating him. Terrifying fucking nightmare.
Such a great contrast to the other episodes, all of those so similar, the same song, the record player, the breakfast. Now, we’ve come to the end of Season 1, and Bill’s in a vastly different, scarier headspace than he was before, worried for the safety of everyone near him.
IMG_0330At the police station, Dt. Pete Dixon (Scott Lawrence), Dt. Izzy Torres (Nicole Barré), Captain Brooke Hockney (Debra Monk), and Bill watch the confessional tape Brady recorded before the supposed end. As he rants about his delusions of grandeur, his mom, the “lead boots” of conscience against which his life raged, the lie that his mom died because she wanted to turn him in – he can’t even admit HE was the one who accidentally killed her, a pathetic human. He goes on about history as “scar tissue” and gobbles up a bottle of pills at the same time. Until it looks like he passes out, falling into the lens.
Bill’s thanked afterwards by Capt. Hockney for his involvement, as well as tasked with helping out more while they check for bombs at his place, other places Brady might’ve left a bomb behind. They also get a bit of help from Lou Linklatter (Breeda Wool) concerning where Robi might be.
At the electronics shop, corporate douche Josh (David Furr) realises the killer is the one who setup a display recently, to attract kids and their parents. Nothing’s found. However, better safe than sorry, right? Bill’s house is safe, too. He and Pete have a beer on the front step, chatting, the latter admitting they found an escape tunnel down in Brady’s lair. Quite possible he’s out, alive, plotting.
And yes, he is, of course. Like we all knew. So sinister. He’s got another bomb, he’s putting the finishing touches on it. He has a wheelchair, as well. Underneath which is where the explosives are neatly hidden, nobody any the wiser about its capabilities. Oh, shit.
IMG_0331Josh goes looking for Robi. When he notices his car’s there and nobody answering at home, he calls the cops again. Pete, Izzy, and Bill come to check the place. In the apartment they find no one, nothing. Although Josh notices after a moment there’s no rug near the kitchen like before. So Izzy begins doing minor forensics, spraying luminol around a few areas, locating the presence of some interesting fluids – a large splash on the wall, the floor, some reaching out to the kitchen cabinets. A macabre, fluorescent crime scene.
This is when they call the morgue, to confirm the corpses, and discovering that most likely it was, indeed, Robi left in bed with Mama Hartsfield. So Cpt. Hockney and the rest try determining what Brady’s next move is, what to do in the preemptive hope they can combat the killer.
Speaking of, Brady’s shaving his head, going with a new look. Is he planning on a suicide bombing mission in that wheelchair? Simultaneously, the cops are wondering which events might be targets, a gala, another career fair event, so on. Without a specific threat, they can’t cancel anything. So they add security, they’ll keep their eyes open. Problem is even the shaved head could throw them off his trail, for just enough time to detonate those explosives.
Poor Bill’s haunted, seeing the images of his nightmare over and over. He also believes there’s no way Brady is going for another career fair, just as WE see the killer in his wheelchair, wearing glasses, bald head and a suit to boot. Brady’s at the gala, same place as Holly. Dear lord, no. Bill knows something bad will happen, he rushes for the gala, calls Ida and tells her to get someplace safe; our former detective knows the killer’s going for people he cares about.
IMG_0332In a portable outhouse, Brady opens the wheelchair and produces the bomb. Out on a stage, a speech, a look at the Edmund Mills Art Center opening in the community. In the crowd Bill looks hard for his man, he stumbles onto Holly and asks her to get out of there fast. And Jerome, he’s there with his family. So many in peril.
Lou’s also kicking around, having a drink. Near the bathrooms, she runs into none other than Brady in his disguise: “Shouldve worn sunglasses,” he quips. He stabs her in the stomach before hopping back in his wheelchair. Right at the same time Jerome takes the stage, introduced for his achievements, his getting into an Ivy League college, as he himself introduces a young choir. THE TENSION IS KILLING ME!
The killer doesn’t finish Lou off, so she shouts for help. Bill hears her calls, finding her, and getting somebody to call for an ambulance. She tells him about the disguise.
And wheeling into the middle of the crowd Brady readies himself to detonate. Onstage, Jerome starts clearing people out after Holly alerts him. Bill points his gun into the crowd as they run, Brady holds the detonator ready. But before anything can happen, Holly cracks the killer in the face, beating him relentlessly, and Jerome grabs the device. All to “This Little Light of Mine” in the background. Amazing sequence.

In the aftermath, Holly and Jerome are heroes. Bill’s been vindicated already, as his hunches over the Mercedes Killer case turned out to be entirely warranted. Meanwhile, Brady’s a vegetable in the hospital, our former detectives goes to see him every day: “If he ever flatlines, Ill show up and cremate him myself.” He leaves the hospital after whispering into Brady’s ear, making clear he isn’t going anywhere no matter if the killer’s brain dead or what.
There’s still a flicker. We can hear The Pixies “Here Comes Your Man” playing, the radio in his brain hanging on and on. I wonder…
IMG_0336Loved this finale! Wow, just filled with atmosphere and suspense, tension to fill your boots. Season 2’s been announced already, so I’m very interested if they’ll take into account Finders Keepers, or if they’re going for a whole angle of their own. Exciting stuff to consider in the interim.

Alias Grace – Part 3

CBC’s Alias Grace
Part 3
Directed by Mary Harron
Written by Sarah Polley

* For a recap & review of Part 2, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part 4, click here.
Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 6.53.22 PMDr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft) considers the sanity of Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon), speaking with the Reverend (David Cronenberg). He thinks about the death of Mary Whitney (Rebecca Liddiard), how Grace had an auditory hallucination, had amnesia later. Quite the enigma, this woman. Plus, he’s only got half the story. We, the audience, have seen how she withholds certain bits of information, telling him what she thinks will be best, or will serve her best.
Meanwhile, the doctor’s got his own troubles, mental ones. Navigating Mrs. Humphrey (Sarah Manninen) at the house where he stays, his daydreams of longing for his current patient, the so-called murderess Ms. Marks. When the doc sees her again, she speaks of being mistreated by the guards, but she’s more interested in the “dark circles” under his eyes, why he’s not sleeping. It’s a case of the doctor becoming a patient, patient becoming doctor, if only briefly.
Love all the visual stuff going on, the quick edits of Grace’s ACTUAL memories, as opposed to the edited ones she presents to her doctor. We see the various acts leading up to the death of Nancy Montgomery (Anna Paquin), her body being tossed down into a cellar. Then we’re back to her and Dr. Jordan, talking about Mary, the poor young woman’s death. As well as what later went on at the Parkinson house. Mrs. Parkinson (Martha Burns) herself making her “swear on the Bible” that even if she knows who impregnated her friend, she will not tell; this comes with better wages, and a shining reference wherever she might find employment when she leaves that house.
Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 6.53.54 PMBut goddamn George (Will Bowes) still lurked, his mother knowing silently he was the one who effectively sent Mary to her grave. He tried hard to get in bed with the girl, sometimes trying to open her locked door at night. Most of all Grace knew that “once youre found with a man in your room, youre the guilty one, no matter how they got in.” And sooner or later, George was going to get inside. Terrifying.
Now we come to see Grace first meeting Nancy. Her master is Thomas Kinnear (Paul Gross), she’s looking for someone else to work up there, also to keep her company as a single woman with a man around. Y’know, people talk. She also says Mr. Kinnear is a “liberal master,” which feels like an oxymoron.
Grace takes the offer, though she’s warned cryptically about the man. However, thus is the choice of women, especially back then but still today: take what appears the lesser of two male evils in order to escape one male presence. It’s one way of escaping the creeping assault of George.
She gets quite the greeting, when a man accosts her as a “whore” and Mr. Kinnear knocks him out in the road. Oh, so valiant, no? Well, we’ll see. There’s certainly a foreboding, ominous sense of his character, even before he showed up onscreen. Soon Grace arrives at the Kinnear place, where several people work the grounds, including a man named James McDermott (Kerr Logan), and the whole thing just feels uneasy.
More of the divide between what’s said and what is seen, just as it was in the Atwood novel. Grace tells Dr. Jordan about the new house, the cellar, her duties, the others like McDermott employed by Kinnear.
Amongst all this we’re shown a bit of the later horror in a shot of a hand taking the earring out of a bloody ear, no doubt belonging to Nancy at the bottom of the cellar.
Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 7.15.21 PMAnd so forth is all youre entitled to
At the Kinnear house, Grace is introduced into the little world of that workplace. She sees both temptation and danger in various places, from Nancy’s strange demeanour to the master himself as a bit informal to McDermott seeming like a sensitive Irish dancer out in the barn. An odd place, indeed.
Note: The picture concerning the “apocryphaltale of Susanna, an addition to the Book of Daniel, is an interesting reference. A story of a falsely accused woman. Lying, lecherous old men. Everything ends swell for Susanna. But as it is in the Bible, so it is not in real life; virtue does not always win in the end. Grace is like Susanna, only left in the lurch in her current state after a lifetime of taking men’s shit. There’s also an interesting dichotomy of religion: a working class woman like Grace is unaware of the apocryphal Bible stories, versus Kinnear, a bourgeois man of privilege with access to knowledge, even so far as having a piece of art depicting the story on his wall. This is also where we begin seeing a divide in the house, where Grace starts getting to know James, seeing his view of the world separated into a class hierarchy. Although for all his Marxist ideals, he’s a bit of misogynist bastard, as well.
McDermott: “Never one to lick the boots of the rich
Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 7.25.18 PMAnd so it all went for Grace. Work, work, work. In between, bits of intrigue. she also found herself watching McDermott, interested in him when she knew full well he was only trouble, in many shapes and forms. Likewise, Nancy kept her close, in a sort of dominant way of her own. All these forces tearing a woman apart.
Loved this episode! The mini-series gets better with each one. Part 4 comes next, and I’m excited already for more. Sarah Gadon is a revelation. Bless her, and bless the directing-writing team of Mary Harron and Sarah Polley. Fantastic adaptation.

Alias Grace – Part 2

CBC’s Alias Grace
Part 2
Directed by Mary Harron
Written by Sarah Polley

* For a recap & review of Part 1, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part 3, click here.
Pic 1Dr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft) finds himself dreaming about Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon), holding her close in the midst of the penitentiary’s yard. He’s quickly back to real life. In his office, Mrs. Humphrey (Sarah Manninen) collapses, she isn’t well. Neither is life in general going well. She hasn’t eaten since her husband left recently. And so the good doctor buys food for the house, advancing “two months rent” for her to take care of things in the interim. She’s a little affectionate towards him, naturally, making him uncomfortable. Whereas he was just longing in dreams for Grace.
Speaking of our lady, she’s at work sewing, taking care of things around the house where she works. When Dr. Jordan arrives, they speak of dreams. She tells him she doesn’t remember any, though we see a vision of Nancy Montgomery (Anna Paquin) near a rose garden, a cut ripping across her forehead; she begins falling, grabs her throat. Then quickly, back to reality.
Grace talks more of her good friend Mary Whitney (Rebecca Liddiard), a wild spirit, a free woman in her heart. At night, the two women play a game with an apple peel, a superstition-style game; peeled in one piece, Grace tosses it behind her as her friend asks “Who shall we marry?” But when Mary tries, she cuts herself on the knife while peeling, ending their game.
Saddest is how they’re young, yet their lives already revolving entirely around men. Not by choice. Even Grace, she was forced out of the house by a revolting father, but it was more a choice of getting abused constantly, or working and sending money back home eternally. An entire life shaped by the horror of men.
Pic 1AAnother free spirit, Jeremiah Pontelli (Zachary Levi), shows up to peddle his wares to the women at the Parkinson home, Mrs. Honey (Elizabeth Saunders) even in her experienced years not immune to his charm. He does a good magic trick, too. Had his “pocket picked” and his “heart broken” enough to learn some tricks of his own, he says. Afterwards, he looks into Grace’s palm, seeing something foreboding. Although he tells her: “You will cross water three times. You will have much trouble. But all will be fine in the end. You are one of us.”
Pic 1BWe see bits of how difficult it was to be a women in their time. Can’t even go to the outhouse at night without a partner, or else bad things might happen. And it’d be blamed on the woman if anything did. As Grace says, a woman can’t “let her guard down.” Juxtaposed with this harsh, tragic lesson of womanhood, she wakes one morning to find she’s had her first period, believing that she’s dying like her mother. Luckily, she’s got Mary to guide her. Yet it’s still a nasty life being a woman amongst men and their misogyny. As I write this recap and review, we’re facing the Harvey Weinstein situation, all its hideousness: things have changed, but not really, not for women.
George Parkinson (Will Bowes) had to stay at home for a long while, feeling ill. He was left with so much time on his hands, nothing to do. The whole house full of women waiting on him hand and foot. Suddenly, Mary’s also very cold towards Grace. Everything’s changed, they no longer have fun together at work, no more joking. Mary’s feeling sick herself. Because she’s up the duff with George’s baby. He’s turned his back on her, as well. So convenient for men, to do what they wish then walk away when it’s inconvenient. Mary’s left to try getting him to help. What does the man do? Hands her “five dollars.” So, she has to find work somewhere where they’ll allow her to work pregnant, likely in horrible conditions.
Or, an illegal abortion. She writes a note, claiming that if she perishes then all her things go to Grace. Her faithful friend goes with her to the doctor, but Mary heads in for the procedure alone. All the horrific bits of womanhood, the things women face because of men, thrown at Ms. Marks, so quickly, so brutal. It’s awful. Particularly when Mary’s screams are heard and she comes bursting out in a terrible state.
Grace: “It was either one corpse that way, or two the other.”
Our lady tried taking care of her friend. Until one day she woke to a cold, dead Mary in bed. A true tragic end for the young woman. Thus leading others to the discovery of the “bad business” involved in her agonising death. An even sadder moment is when Grace doesn’t know if her friend’s faking, having once faked a death-like moment with her in the laundry.
Later, Grace goes into a state of disembodied shock yelling to the others: “Where is Grace?”
Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 8.20.42 PMFor it is not always the one who strikes the blow that is the actual murderer.”
This series has started out so strong, at a particularly relevant time here at the tail end of 2017. When so many women are finally able to come forward without (as much) fear as before, that their stories might not believed. Grace Marks isn’t entirely the best historical example, as there are many questions about the factual authenticity to certain claims.
However, there’s so much in her story that plays out as a microcosm of what all women go through in the course of their lives. Being a woman is harder than being a man; any man who can’t admit that doesn’t understand history, the balance of power between genders, and likely feels a false sense of constructed masculinity that’s unwilling to let them see a woman’s perspective clearly.
Can’t wait for Part 3.

Mr. Robot – Season 2, Episode 12: “eps2.9_pyth0n-pt2.p7z”

USA’s Mr. Robot
Season 2, Episode 12: “eps2.9_pyth0n-pt2.p7z”
Directed & Written by Sam Esmail

* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 2 episode, “eps2.9_pyth0n-pt1.p7z” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 3 premiere, “eps3.0_power-saver-mode.h” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 4.50.39 PMElliot (Rami Malek) is wondering about Tyrell (Martin Wallström), how he’s just suddenly showed up again after all this time, sure that the man is dead. We go back to an old moment between the two men: “Youre not seeing whats above you,” our hacker told him. Tyrell repeats a few lines of “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams, something his father repeated often when he was a boy; it’s a reminder of his father and the man he never wanted to become.
Back to present day, as Elliot’s being led somewhere by Tyrell. They go an unsuspecting building, a relatively decrepit-looking place inside. A worker in a white lab suit and goggles (Stephen Lin) takes them in an elevator. Our hacker heads onto a dark floor where he’s shown what the Dark Army’s helped them setup, though he doesn’t remember what Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) has been up to while he’s been… asleep. Tyrell fills him in again, and Elliot is a bit bewildered.
Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 4.59.58 PMIn an FBI interrogating room, Darlene (Carly Chaikin) invokes her “Fifth Amendment” rights. Although Dominique (Grace Gummer) offers condolences, for Cisco’s death. Agent Santiago (Omar Metwally) doesn’t have time for that shit, pulling out The Patriot Act and shoving that in her face, considering her an enemy of the country. This all prompts Dom to take some time alone with Darlene. She wants to get close, to make the young woman feel comfortable.
Except Darlene doesn’t want to do that. She bites back. Until Dom brings in the evidence from the Smart House – camera, tripod, the fsociety mask. And if they can link the camera to the videos made by the group, this might mean trouble. There’s also a bullet casing in the mix. The one linked to the Fun Society arcade. Shiiiiit.
Elsewhere in the city, Joanna (Stephanie Corneliussen) has tracked down Scott Knowles (Brian Stokes Mitchell). He’s the one who’s been sending the gifts, calling on the phone. She mocks him saying the sonogram picture made her “wet.” Really, she’s there to figure out why he’d do such a thing. So he talks about his wife, when she found she was pregnant. Joanna doesn’t care: “Fuck her and her fetus corpse.” Scott goes mad and tries to strangle her, then beats the shit out of her instead when she continues mocking. Wow, that’s ugly.
Darlene: “If you want any other details, the answer is suck a dick.”
Elliot’s lamenting the fact he’s the leader of the plan between Tyrell, Whiterose (BD Wong), the Dark Army, all by default. His father’s been pulling the strings, he’s been along for the ride unwillingly. Now, there’s a massive plan put together, a huge operation against Evil Corp.
Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 5.12.06 PMWhat does Joanna decide on after her beating? She wants her boyfriend to help her frame Scott for the murder of his wife, which will likewise get her husband off the hook, too. Hmm, so many things coming together. So many brutal things, too. And this poor dude, he’s wrapped around her finger. He protests, but not for long.
Dom keeps pressing Darlene, trying to get her to talk. Using any tactic she can think of to pull from her FBI back of tricks. Then she plays on the young woman’s curiosity, saying she has something to show her: “Youre a lot more special than you think.” As Darlene walks through the corridor, agents watch her, like people would a celebrity. Coincidentally, the brownouts flicker the lights as she passes while Aimee Mann sings. And Dom shows her all the work the FBI’s been doing, how difficult it’s been. That it was nothing of their own volition which brought fsociety into their web. Rather, an accident.
Elliot: “No matter what I do, he always finds a way.”
Our hacker doesn’t understand the purpose of Mr. Robot, or why he’s constantly fucking with him. No matter if he overdoses, goes to jail, dad is always around. Because they’re the same person, just different identities in one package, different iterations of an identical personality. It seems Mr. Robot is there to push Elliot to the end, towards his fate, towards whatever’s necessary; to distract him, long enough for things to get accomplished.
Elliot worries people will die if they blow up the E.Corp building. He pushes Tyrell out of the way, to take care of the malware. This prompts the disgraced businessman to grab a gun, pointing it at the hacker. Dad says walk away; the son won’t abide death. Elliot sees Tyrell and Mr. Robot as the same people, that it’s all a trick of the mind.
Is it? Is Tyrell actually there holding a gun, or is he a figment of his imagination?
Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 5.27.04 PM (1)While Elliot feels he’s taking back control, he gets a bullet put in him. Blood spurting from an open wound. Seems Tyrell is very real. In the background, dad flickers in and out of perspective; he’s the one who gave the gun to their friend, to stop anyone who got in the way. A full circle of vicious delusion.
Afterwards, Angela (Portia Doubleday) gets a call from Tyrell who hates what he’s had to do, saying he loves Elliot. She does, too. She heads out, already knowing what’s going to happen. Just as a large blackout strikes, lights everywhere shut off, and cars honk their horns, crashing together.
In another place, working at an electronics store, Frederick and Tanya talk about something on their break, about generating keys, so on. Fred doesn’t want to hear more, though Tanya is insistent. That’s because it’s Mobley (Azhar Khan) and Trenton (Sunita Mani), they’re okay, hiding away from the wandering eye of the Dark Army and anybody else looking for them. Yay!
And who else shows up to ask for the time? Leon (Joey Bada$$). Whoa. C’mon Season 3!
Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 5.33.59 PMPerfect season finale. Cannot wait for the new season, coming very soon. What’ll happen? How will Elliot move forward after this? What will Angela’s role ultimately be now that she’s integrated into the Dark Army’s plotting? And what will become of Darlene?

Mr. Robot – Season 2, Episode 11: “eps2.9_pyth0n-pt1.p7z”

USA’s Mr. Robot
Season 2, Episode 11: “eps2.9_pyth0n-pt1.p7z”
Directed & Written by Sam Esmail

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “eps2.8_h1dden-pr0cess.axx” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, “eps2.9_pyth0n-pt2.p7z” – click here
Pic 1Hes always a step ahead of me, because he is me.”
Elliot (Rami Malek) is still trying to solve the puzzle of his father, Mr. Robot (Christian Slater). Despite all he’s figured out, there’s so much more to unravel. His mind is an enigma. It’s not an easily life, being him.
Mr. Sutherland (Jeremy Holm) once again shows Joanna (Stephanie Corneliussen) the location of where the calls came from, and it seems she knows something more, obviously. Just from his reaction in the previous episode, this location is a place they know. But where the hell is it? Whose house is it?
Somewhere else, stuck in the back of a van, Angela (Portia Doubleday) is transported by two silent people in the front seat, a cage dividing them. They turn up the radio to drown out her protest, so she eventually gives up and sits back down.
Pic 1APoor fucking Dom (Grace Gummer). She’s lived through another shooting by the Dark Army, men around her telling her she’s “in shock” and that she needs time to decompress, blah, blah, blah. When you know if it were a male agent he’d be frothing at the mouth for revenge.
Even as a high-profile FBI agent, Dom deals with misogynist bullshit. Plus, she blames her superior, Agent Santiago (Omar Metwally) for not believing her. She considers this “an act of war.” He likewise brings up the fact China bailed out E.Corp, a $2-trillion no-interest loan. Highly suspicious, certainly. In light of this, Santiago is more inclined to start believing Dom.
Angela’s taken to a house, by the man and woman in the van. She’s led inside through a very upper class, modern kitchen, living room. Down a hall with some creepy photos on the wall; they look like certain faces are cut out, or scratched off. She’s brought to a dark room. In it is a desk by a fish tank. She’s locked in there alone. On the desk is a lot of old technology, like an office ripped out of the ’80s. Soon, a little girl arrives and begins typing on the computer. After that she asks: “Have you ever cried during sex?” Good lord! She reveals marks on her side, saying that if Angela doesn’t answer she’ll receive more of the same treatment. One question gives way to another, each morbid, weird, out of context. What’s going on here?
In his ivory tower, Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer) is angling to make eCoin the new currency, wanting to leave the old dollar, and Bitcoin, behind. This is all just a way for him to get richer, it isn’t about helping anybody, not even the economy. It’s about making sure he’s able to survive in whatever new world comes out of this fucked up revolution. He’s just another capitalist trying to save his skin.
Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 1.19.51 AMFurther and further, Angela is led through questions until the little girl hands her the red phone after it rings. More instructions from a computerised voice, similar to the early type-and-play games from the early days of computers, like Hugo’s House of Horrors and others. She has to answer more questions, guiding the game along. But no answers yet. After a little more she figures out the game, to an extent, and this at least moves things on to the next step.
A scene between Dom and her personal assistant Alexa highlights the loneliness in the former’s life, seeing how even the computer PA doesn’t comprehend loneliness, being utterly alone, without anybody. Whereas Dom must suffer through it, coming home after nearly dying in a shootout to nothing except an empty apartment and old takeout boxes.
Soon, Angela gets a visit from Whiterose (BD Wong). And, as usual, they only have an allotted time. Whiterose is prompt. Plenty of cryptic conversation to start, centring around the Chinese woman’s concept of doors and locks. All comes around to her not wanting Angela to give up her “sensitive information” and not wanting her to die, either. If it isn’t necessary, anyway.
Later that night Angela goes to her lawyer, telling her to forget about their latest legal chats. She also tells her to stay away, no more calls.
Mind awake. Body asleep.”
When Elliot comes to, he can’t remember how long he’s been out. And dad is back, as if nothing ever happened. It’s like they’ve switched places, too. Like Mr. Robot is the one of flesh and blood, and he’s the invisible counterpart. Dad has a cypher, somebody is trying to get in contact with him. Hmm. Now he’s going about decoding the message.
Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 1.26.51 AMA man in a cab is waiting for Elliot. They get going, but quickly Elliot is going nuts, wanting to know if the guy sees someone next to him. He’s falling apart.
Out of the blue, he’s dropped off and sees Tyrell (Martin Wallström) on the street. They’re ready for Stage 2, supposedly. Big things are happening. Is this real? Or is our hacker just hallucinating more? Hard to tell these days.
Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 1.50.30 AMGod, this series gets better with each episode. Leading up to the finale, this is all so tense, so exciting. Sometimes you think Mr. Robot has reinvented itself already, its not going to happen again. And yet, it does. Time and time again. A big reason why it’s such a fantastic show.
“eps2.9_pyth0n-pt2.p7z” – the finale – is next.

Tin Star – Season 1, Episode 10: “My Love is Vengeance”

Sky Atlantic’s Tin Star
Season 1, Episode 10: “My Love is Vengeance”
Directed by Gilles Bannier
Written by Rowan Joffe

* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 1 episode, “Fortunate Boy” – click here
* Season 2 to come next year
Pic 1In a home, Helen (Leanne Best) is being taken care of, a wasteland of a woman after the alcoholism and the drugs. She’s now medicated, looked after, as best as money can provide. Whitey (Oliver Coopersmith) calls her, then hands the phone over to Anna (Abigail Lawrie). He wants Anna to tell his mother who she is, the daughter of Jack Devlin a.k.a Jim Worth (Tim Roth), that he left numerous people in his wake of shattered promises and lies. The girl refuses, even with a gun on her.
Meanwhile, Angela (Genevieve O’Reilly) is cleaning the blood off her floors, the walls, digging bullets out of the plaster. Out in the woods, Jaclyn (Michelle Thrush) and Elizabeth (Christina Hendricks) are pulling Gagnon’s corpse to a proper spot where they’ll dig a hole, bury him for good. Constable Denise Minahik (Sarah Podemski) calls, noticing the cameras are out at the Worth place. She decides to come check on them. Not great when there’s blood smeared down the stairs, all across the front of the house. Literally everywhere.
What does Angela decide on doing? Letting the house fucking blow up, opening the propane tanks outside, turning on the stovetop burners, then walking out. She watches it go up, no time to take anything out. She gets a quick call from Jim before Denise then arrives. She plays up the idea of having left the gas on to cover. Denise calls in the fire to Constable Nick McGillen (Ryan Kennedy), who’s planning on taking their Chief in for murdering Roger Crouch a.k.a Reginald.
Pic 1AWhitey says he doesn’t “deserve to live” for the murder of Petey, he gives her a gun and tells her to shoot him. She won’t, though. Underneath it all she cares for him, because she realises the effect her father’s had on his life, in such a tragic way.
At Randy’s (Lynda Boyd) Roadhouse, Angela meets Jim. Her husband has a surprise. Well, her other husband Jack does. He’s tied Randy and Frank (Ian Puleston-Davies) to a chair each. Ready for a chat. Frank only talks about his sister’s “wet brain” after she discovered his undercover lie, he insists Jack was essentially raping her. When things don’t go the right way, the London gangster gets a couple pool balls cracked across his knuckles. Things get really serious when he goes to work on Randy. Eventually the man cracks, revealing it was Simon, Whitey, who killed their little boy.
Afterwards, Nick shows up to arrest Jim and gets a bullet in the leg for his trouble, because the Chief and his wife are off to find their daughter before anything else awful happens to their family.
Jack: “This is what you asked for, right?”
Angela: “I know
Jack: “Well thats just how it goes, love.”
In other news, Jaclyn and Liz are attempting to get ahead of the story with Gagnon. This is when Liz admits to having nearly turned Jaclyn in to the man back in Little Big Bear. Nearly tearing the whole thing down. But the oil executive asks for one last bit of trust, to get things finished. Upstairs, she presents everything to the North Stream Oil board, the murders connected to Gagnon, every bit of nastiness. She bargains herself into a new position, one that might allow her to pump a few ethics into their business on her watch. Change, from the inside out.
Elizabeth: “I answer to my conscience
Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 7.50.55 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-01 at 7.55.02 PMNow Jaclyn wants Liz to pay the reserve, or else she’ll tell the truth about Gagnon. So we’re seeing that while the executive woman wants to make change, feigning conscience and ethics, she’s really got none at all. She’s self serving, and I hope Jaclyn’s keen enough to know that for sure. If not, could get rough.
Angela and Jack track down their daughter. But the wife makes sure to trap him, so he can’t kill Whitey. She only wants to get their daughter back to safety. Yet she forgets, a locked contraption isn’t necessarily enough to stop Jack, he gets at the mechanism’s wiring in the police vehicle to unlock himself. Then he heads out for the cabin where Whitey and Anna are hiding, too.
Mom gets there to find her daughter near brainwashed by the young man, somehow forgiving him for killing her brother. Anna tries taking Whitey away, but mom puts a shot in his knee. This doesn’t stop Anna, she feels betrayed by both of her parents, not simply her father. Only mom lets her daughter take the shotgun and go; to stop Jack.
Jack gets to the empty cabin, only a spatter of blood on the floor. He heads into the woods, following the tracks. First, he comes upon Angela who pleads to “let him go.” They stumble onto Anna, Whitey in bad shape. So the daughter points her weapon at dad, calling him by the name Jack Devlin. She’s heard all his dark, dirty secrets, Helen’s miscarriage, every last little bit. And yet she doesn’t seem to care Whitey killed Petey. A tragedy.
However, Jack calls up old memories, he threatens to shoot. So Whitey pushes Anna out of the way, taking a bullet. After a few seconds, he takes two more in the chest before Jack tells him: “I love you, too, mate.”
When Jack walks away, his daughter calls to him before pointing a pistol at him and firing.
Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 8.16.56 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-01 at 8.30.24 PMNice cliffhanger that takes us into the next season. Wow.
I personally couldn’t get enough of Tin Star. Just weird enough, slightly over-the-top at times, gritty, darkly comic. Tim Roth and Genevieve O’Reilly were just so good, as were many of the secondary players. So happy this was already greenlit for a Season 2. We need it. Bring it on! Love me a modern revenge Western with Tim Roth set in Canada. How could you not?

Tin Star – Season 1, Episode 9: “Fortunate Boy”

Sky Atlantic’s Tin Star
Season 1, Episode 9: “Fortunate Boy”
Directed by Craig Viveiros
Written by Rowan Joffe

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “This Be the Verse” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 1 finale, “My Love is Vengeance” – click here
Pic 1Open on England, ten years before our current timeline. In a trailer out in the country, a young boy named Simon (Jack Veal) wakes to find Jim (Tim Roth) just waking up, too. His mother Helen (Leanne Best) likely still drunk, not wanting to deal with him. So he and dad work on breakfast together in the kitchen – crisp sandwiches this morning. They have a bit of a macabre conversation while they eat. We see that while Jack is more of a playful influence in the boy’s life, mom is an angry, pushy alcoholic. She can barely let the lad enjoy Saturday morning.
Would you rather know how youre gonna die, or when youre gonna die?”
Later, Jack takes Simon out to the barn where they’ve got a load of puppies. They fed them all, reciting their names, naming the ones who’ve not been named yet. What’s evident is that, while Jack is clearly an alcoholic, an addict himself, he’s the more positive influence of the two adult figures in the boy’s life. At least from what we can see.
Then we discover the truth: Helen is Frank’s (Ian Puleston-Davies) half-sister. This means Whitey (Oliver Coopersmith) is Frank’s nephew. It all comes together. So, we can see the betrayal coming for the little lad, once it’s discovered Mr. Devlin is an undercover copper.
So now we know, Whitey isn’t Jim’s actual child. But, boy, do they ever have a history!
Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 5.07.35 PMEventually Helen wants more, and to know more about Jack. He’s reluctant to talk, though. He’d rather fuck off. But his work means more than that, so he doesn’t leave. She has a husband, too. It makes the entire mess all the more complicated. She worries if her man finds out, he’ll cut her throat. Then she suggests talking to Frank, getting him to help. Leading our copper right where he needs to go.
Meanwhile, back in the city, Jack is Jim. Angela (Genevieve O’Reilly) waits in bed at home. His dual personalities on either side of the law don’t come into contact with one another. Except for the fact he’s gone for weeks at a time, undercover, no calls. He has to tell her truthfully about his work when she asks: “Do you fuck her?” He doesn’t need any words to tell her, she knows by his reaction.
But the next day, regardless, he’s back in the countryside at the trailer with Helen and Simon. The boy mentions to Jack his mother was talking to Frank, soon the uncle and the boyfriend will meet. Simon also wants to know if the man loves his mother, and if so why Jack has to leave all the time. A complicated situation for a little fella to try understanding. It’s also unnerving to see Jim slip into the Jack persona, in how he has to go undercover so deeply, pretending to love this woman, maybe actually loving her, in addition to getting close to the kid. Makes for a loaded situation.
Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 5.13.44 PMOne night, Simon goes to look for his dog, and men descend on the trailer. One of whom is Malcolm (Geoff Bell), dear ole dad, Helen’s husband. He wants to find out how long the boy knew. He’s a scary man, an even worse father. Simon gets away after stabbing dad in the leg, running back to tell Jack what’s happened. This sends Helen into a fit, but Mr. Devlin’s prepared to face the music.
When Jack comes to after a shotgun barrel to the face, he’s blood spattered, and Malcolm is ready to finish him off. “Take one for the force then, shall I, hey?” our copper grins through the pain. This gives Malcolm pause, so he goes outside to tell his wife that Jack is “Old Bill,” he’s the “Filth.” Now he’s wondering how much his wife told the copper about whatever nasty business he’s been doing.
He puts a gun in Helen’s hands, telling her to kill Jack. But she can’t do that. Frank eventually shows up asking about it all, wanting to know how a guy like that could’ve so personally infiltrated their ranks. He makes clear to Helen he could lose everything he’s built if the coppers come down on him because of Jack, their situation.
Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 5.27.30 PMThey’re keeping Jack out in the dog cages, bloody, beaten, while deciding on what to do with the cop in their midst. Malcolm and Frank are both a bit worried about killing one of Old Bill’s lads. So, they’ve got to put him down, then get away for a good, long time.
Malcolm goes out back to do the deed. However, before he can, Simon’s let Jack out, so the copper beats his father to a pulp with a board. After that he takes off into the night, even if the kid wails, begging him to stay. Jack promises to come back later. We know that after this night, he likely never ever came back.
And in present day, Whitey tells this story to Jim’s daughter, the truth about her father. Ever since he was put into a care home, the young man’s been trying to track down Jack, a.k.a Jim Worth. It doesn’t impress Anna, after realising this is the one who’s killed her brother. She’s left at the end of a gun, he won’t let her go.
Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 5.44.18 PMThis episode finally shows the truth, as well as gives us so much intensity, emotional agony, tension, that it’s one of the BEST of the series so far! Hands down.
“My Love is Vengeance” comes next, the finale of Season 1. Lucky to already know Season 2 is locked in, for those of us who’ve become huge fans in these initial ten episodes.