From There To Here episode 3 review

Feature Patrick Sproull 6 Jun 2014 - 05:41

From There To Here reaches a dramatic climax this week, tying up all its loose threads into a tidy bow

This review contains spoilers.

“Families have stories, that’s what keeps them together,” says Samuel Cotton (Bernard Hill should be given British national treasure status) midway through tonight’s final trip to Manchester, this time on the dawn of a new millennium. Peter Bowker’s flawed but overall tender family rigmarole concluded with a fitting final chapter. From There to Here has always been about family right from the beginning and here it reached a peak with the Cottons, secrets spilling out of every aperture.

Continuing directly on from last week’s midpoint, From There to Here picked up with Daniel awakening in his hospital bed to the unity of both his lives – wealthy confectioner Daniel and industrial cleaner Daniel. Claire glowered at him, Joanne was a mixture of confusion, panic and anger, Ryan scowled at him, and his (not half-) brother, Robbo watched as the inevitable unfolded. The opening scenes were excellent with Daniel requesting that only his two partners remain at his bedside. Saskia Reeves – given some real meat this week – was superlative, Liz White equally so despite having less to do.

From There to Here crept on a few more years again, sliding into the 21st century with everyone having moved on from the big reveal. New Order belted out Bizarre Love Triangle over an agile New Year celebration sequence, sure evidence that director James Strong has been one of the best aspects of this miniseries. In 2000, Claire has gotten over Daniel, Charlie, his son, is heading up the family business, Louise, now a fully fledged Blair Babe, is having an jeopardising affair and Daniel is living with his dad. At times three episodes felt like too little time to flesh out the dramatic events in From There To Here but as Daniel walked away from Joanne in the closing moments it felt, to me, like the miniseries had ended at the right moment.

The bombshell reveal that Samuel is actually Daniel’s real father, not his adopted one, didn’t do much for me. While it was arguably a better twist then have another of the Cottons keel over at an inopportune moment it just felt like flabby drama stapled onto the end. Daniel’s plight, how his two worlds crumbled around him, reducing him to a moody curmudgeon (even unwilling to leave his room in his dad’s house, like a sullen teenager) was tangible and already enough of a hard-hitting spectacle. Episodes one and two carried little emotional potency but the events of this finale were deeply felt. You could argue that this means From There to Here should have been extended and stretched over six parts but Bowker tied everything up so very well and the sledgehammer performances from Glenister, Hill, Reeves, White et al. were powerful, just making up for the series’ faults.

Something I’ve only been dimly aware of is From There to Here’s humour. Serious scenes are peppered with small jokes that sound authentic – Bowker’s last script in this miniseries is undoubtedly his best – and not incongruous or unnecessary. Take the line, “Marks and Spencer’s has managed to recover, and you haven’t”, delivered by Saskia Reeves in such a grave, significant scene – it’s both uproarious and palpable. Then there’s Daniel’s final speech in the Cottons’ living room about the secrets and lies harboured by the family. As he proclaims that each of them have hidden something, Claire and Louise’s husband quietly protest this statement. It subverts the traditional ‘we’ve all got our flaws’ hero speech simply, adding some fizz to a platitude.

Daniel’s chat with Claire outside her home at the end could have gone two ways – a schmaltzy reconciliation, ending the series on a cloying note or it could have stuck to the realistic approach From There to Here has established in previous episodes. Thankfully it chose the latter because while it would have been nice to have seen Daniel scoop up Claire in his arms and bound back inside the house it would have been jarring. Still, Bowker did allow himself an ounce of sentimentality in the final scene that left the state of Joanne and Daniel’s relationship ambiguous.

From There to Here ended with an obsolete voiceover epilogue as Daniel told us how the key characters got on in life. It was all very merry (Louise losing her seat as an MP was quickly tempered with a happy image of her at her wedding) if a little blithe. But it confirmed what From There to Here has been all about – family and love.

Read Patrick's review of the previous episode, here.

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