This review contains spoilers.
4.7 Making History
It’s Mark Gatiss!
It says something about a show when a very fleeting appearance of a newly-introduced character – albeit played by someone of a hero of mine – stands out as the best thing of the episode. Yes, the brief screen time of Mr Gatiss had me cock-a-hoop, but that’s perhaps partly down to the previous fifty-so minutes leaving me scratching my head.
If last week’s episode played it for laughs, this week’s was all about setting things up for the big finale. For me, it didn’t work.
Viewers who haven’t taken to the more comedic elements of this series might have been craving for a bit of high-octane drama and action, but I’m afraid that this satisfied neither camp in which you happen to reside. For those of us who enjoyed last week’s humour-laced outing, there was precious little to cheer here. For those of us wanting to see serious fantasy and/or an almighty smackdown, there’s just one episode left to deliver.
The biggest issue I had with Making History was the ridiculous level of exposition we were forced to sit through. Last week’s ‘revelation’ that the woman was grown-up Eve all along was laid out in front of us again and it fell to Eve to tell Annie, and us, all about the future. It is a widely understood writing technique that you should show and not tell, allowing the viewer/reader to follow the story through what’s on screen/on paper, rather than explicitly describing said events, which can ultimately be a bit boring. Making History was, unfortunately, all about telling rather than showing.
The dystopian imagery of the future was impressive enough, taking a few cues from the likes of I Am Legend and even Pink Floyd’s The Wall, but this was unfortunately backed by prolonged and, frankly, boring monologues from Eve, played with precisely nil passion or conviction by Gina Bramhill. I really don’t like having to single out performances when they are below par, but honestly… I found her difficult to watch at times. Her interactions with the really very good Lenora Critchlow hardly helped her cause, and there was zero chemistry between the pair.
We do now know just how bad the future is, though, and it isn’t good news for anyone. How much of Eve’s tale we believe is up for debate. Do we really think that Hal is the grade A bastard Eve suggests? We know that he used to be, thanks to some excellent flashbacks to flesh out his relationship with the consistently brilliant Cutler. Fans of Damien Molony’s more obvious charms were treated to some dapper clothing and a genuinely forceful performance as a man at the top of the food chain. Aware of his power, 1950s Hal presented us with a wonderful insight into why he is so fearful of slipping back to old ways. Cutler’s wife’s sticky end was proof positive that here is a guy who doesn’t mess around.
Cutler, on the other hand, just wants to impress. His plan to show Hal how far he’d come had high points – primarily Alex’s own sticky end – and one big low one. Cutler’s idea of using social media to show the world the gruesome horrors that live among us seemed a bit old hat to me. Had this been written a few years back, perhaps it would have had more impact. As it stands, it seems a little lazy if I’m honest. Poor Tom was sucked in, though, and the restaurant scene with him and Cutler was another classy bit of writing. I wanted more.
Things picked up in the last ten minutes or so, but by then I was too fed up with Eve’s blathering to really invest in the show. Next week’s episode will be brilliant, I’m sure, and as a vehicle to set things up for a season finale, this did its job. I do wonder if some of Eve’s insights couldn’t have been weaved elsewhere throughout the series somehow, instead of letting it all out here in all its mind-numbing glory.
Still… it’s Mark Gatiss!
Read our review of last week’s episode, here.