This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
This review contains spoilers.
Come Home Episode 3
The idea that there are two sides to every story is gross understatement. With a deft script and excellent performances, Come Home showed that there are so many more.
Taking Greg and Marie’s story into the courtroom allowed us to pit the versions we’ve seen over the past weeks against the sensationalised summaries by each solicitor. We heard that Marie is an unstable, selfish mother who broke a sacred bond by prioritising her needs ahead of her kids. We heard that Greg is a controlling liar who endangered his children by exposing them to violence. We also heard that both Greg and Marie are heroic, put-upon victims of the other’s deceit, each seeking selflessly to protect their kids.
These accounts can’t all be true, but neither are they an invention. Danny Brocklehurst’s carefully controlled script shifted the facts around like beads in a kaleidoscope, moving into a new configuration and forming a different picture with every twist. Where do your sympathies lie – with Marie, or Greg?
Episode three’s ending was unequivocal about where our sympathies should be – with both of them. The custody battle ended not with triumph or spite, but regret and conciliation. “How did we get here?” Greg asked Marie, a question echoed by a flashback return to the couple’s wedding day and a home video montage of happier times.
It was a sentimental ending, and rightly so. Come Home has been admirably cool-headed in its telling of such an emotive story. It’s self-policed any potential lurches towards mawkishness, leavening with comedy or causticity (“What is this,” asked Marie’s mother, “daytime TV?”). The previous two episodes showed us Greg and Marie’s separate memories of family life—his unrealistically blissful, hers isolated and desperate—so it’s fitting to end on fond memories both sadly share about what was lost.
Who was responsible for losing it? Greg with his fictional vasectomy and pregnancy trap, or Marie with her affair and fifteen-year-secret about Laura’s biological dad? The script carefully balanced the severity of both betrayals, laying the potential for equal blame at each partner’s feet.
A very plausible picture emerged of Greg having disregarding Marie’s feelings and ridden roughshod over her in an effort to recreate his own childhood home. We caught him in lies (his kids certainly don’t all love Brenna) and saw him paint himself as the wronged victim, never admitting that his actions had contributed to Marie leaving. Christopher Eccleston played all of this while remaining utterly sympathetic, especially in his heartbreak over the news that Laura wasn’t his biological child and when, as so often happens, the court sided with his children’s mother over him.
Genuinely bewildered at how much Marie had come to hate him, if Greg was a tyrant, then he was an unwitting one. It isn’t an excuse, but it is an explanation for how the same man could be such a warm father and such a cold husband.
Marie, for her part, cheated and kept secrets. She couldn’t make herself understood by Greg, so continued what her mother says is the habit of a lifetime and ran away. Her post-natal depression came to bear on her relationship with her youngest, and Greg’s wilful blindness to the problems in their marriage left her, she felt, with no other choice but to absent herself. Like Eccleston, Paula Malcomson inhabited every aspect of Marie with naturalism. This cast was top level, and made this sadly recognisable portrait of a disintegrated family affecting and complex.
The poignant note on which Come Home ended could be seen as an exhortation to its audience: don’t become like Greg and Marie, asking how it was you ended up like this. Communicate better. Listen better. Be kinder. Take the hate out of it and do it for the same reason out-of-love couples sometimes rub a family raw trying not to acknowledge the unbreachable rift that’s opened up between them: do it for the sake of the kids.