This review contains spoilers.
To quote a certain Marvel wizard, we’re in the Endgame now. Holly has been brought to her lowest ever point and, like a dark, messed-up phoenix, she is rising from the ashes and bringing down the bad men by whatever means necessary. It’s been clear since even before she sat down with Rachel at the end of the first series and that weird smile flickered across her face that there’s something not quite right about Holly, and she’s finally letting that side of herself out to play.
Louise was the anchor keeping normal, adjusted Holly in control, it seems like, and now she’s gone it was a matter of time and circumstance before things turned dark.
But what an episode. There will be those who don’t enjoy the turn in these kinds of set-up hours, when the protagonist is broken down to her base instincts and events suddenly become even more heightened, but I’d argue that this second series has done a better job than the first of seeding the more outlandish stuff throughout instead of backloading the mystery.
That’s mainly because we know how far creator Jess Brittain is willing to go with these characters, and that the point of the show is essentially decoding Holly and holding her up to the more brazenly sociopathic mirror that is Rachel. This season would not change at all if Rachel was revealed to be a part of Holly’s imagination, the devil at the other end of the phone.
It’s somehow more fun if she’s real though, because then there’s a true wildcard in the mix. Holly’s morality is still up for grabs, but Rachel is too far gone. She can get away with anything, which is probably why Holly called her in the first place.
The biggest twist of the episode, though it stands unresolved at the end of episode five, is that Calum and Agnes are more than just step-mother and son. It’s icky and gross and scandalous – all of the things that make Clique a great watch – and it also implies that Calum has been the mastermind behind at least some of the season’s events. It’s easy for him to manipulate Holly, Jack and Agnes because they see him as someone trustworthy, but I’m not yet convinced that he was Rayna’s attacker.
More than likely he saw an opportunity to get rid of Jack and took it but, again, his donning of the black hat does not automatically put a white one atop Jack’s dumb, handsome head. It seems at least confirmed that Jack killed Louise thinking he was getting revenge on Agnes, and I’m not sure that defense is going to hold much weight in court.
As far as Holly is concerned, Jack’s accidental murder is enough to make him a target for revenge, and so she’s lured him out to her hometown along with Rachel. The fight for Holly’s soul continues and, short of Georgia perhaps making a surprise return, I don’t know who’s on the side of the light. Could a potential third series just involve Holly and Louise travelling around Scotland doing murders?
There will be a lot of reveals and big events to discuss after next week’s finale, so for now let’s bask in how fun and daring Clique’s second series has been. Brittain has done what every great showrunner should do and taken apart the first batch of episodes, examined what worked and what didn’t, and turned the former up to eleven for a second go-around.
It’s rare for something to feel so relevant and up-the-minute newscycle-wise without coming across as preachy or out of step, but at least up to this point, series two has tapped into something that feels so fresh; something few series have managed. Unless episode six is a complete disaster, I’ll be gagging for the BBC to commission a third series.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode here.