This review contains spoilers.
This series’ final episode is a bit of a slow burner with the first fifteen minutes moving everything into place as a final set-up for the episode’s second half. And the set-up is definitely worth it as the payoff is nothing short of outstanding.
My largest gripe with episode 8 and few other episodes was that the production of Pucks! was not given any screentime, but here it’s understandable. There are so many plots and story arcs that need wrapping up that including Pucks! would mean cutting out stuff that’s been built up for so long. The subject of Pucks! is raised much more frequently than it was in the previous episode which at least keeps the episode moderately on track with the series’ original premise.
For my money, this episode’s strongest scene is where Merc makes his acceptance speech after being given the opera society’s man of the year award, intercut with scenes of his office being cleared out after he is fired without his knowledge on the orders of network chairman Elliot Salad (Michael Brandon). Even though Merc is, without doubt, a complete monster, it’s hard not to feel just a little bit of sympathy for him as his entire life comes crashing down around his ears without him knowing. Admittedly, any sympathy you may feel for him will vanish completely in the next scene.
As well as the brilliant imagery in this scene, the excellent score compliments it perfectly. The music has really been the strong point of this series and, without fail, it underpins the dramatic moments really well.
Additionally, when this episode is firing on all cylinders, there are some wonderful little character moments such as Andy casually videoing the fight between Matt, Sean, and Merc, and Beverly being (as Sean puts it) “a gift bag whore”, snatching up every gift bag at the award ceremony she can find. Another high point is Nigel Planer’s (The Young Ones) brilliantly deadpan appearance as Matt’s lawyer. I’m already hoping that he becomes a recurring character.
As I’ve said, the first half of the episode is a bit slow and has too much to do, setting up all the plots to resolve, but it’s consistently funny right from scene with Matt and Merc in the toilet where Merc’s anger at Matt’s affair with his wife boils over and he takes revenge in a rather odd way that suits Merc down to the ground, and could arguably seen as a metaphor for Matt and Merc’s relationship. Another positive addition is the large number of callbacks and running gags such as the extreme size of Matt’s penis being what finally pushes Merc over the edge.
The episode’s not perfect though. Something that annoyed me was the fact that Merc and Carol are suddenly a couple again. Carol ended the relationship in episode 5 and the only implication was Carol saying “Probably not” when Beverly asked her if it were permanently over. After that there were three episodes with no indication of there be anything between Merc and Carol, yet in this episode they are suddenly a couple again and are at a similar stage in their relationship as at the start of episode 5. When a love triangle (or square in this case I suppose) is so central to the involved characters, the thing it requires most is consistency. Carol and Merc getting back together is a big deal in terms of character arcs and should have been given at least one scene rather than just a line or two of expository dialogue. As well as that, the resolution to the ongoing arc between Sean and Beverly is a bit too obvious. Although the resolution works well, a subversion of our expectations, or the extension of the story would have been more welcome.
Also, something that seemed rather odd and unnecessary to me was Andy’s (Joseph May) voiceover during the credits where he reads a press release claiming that Merc voluntarily stepped down from his position. It sort of detracts from the episode’s last line being a minor running gag, and it would have been much better if it was used as an establishing scene for the third series, assuming the programme gets recommissioned.
So, a great end to what’s been a rather patchy series. It’s a very satisfying episode that wraps a lot of things and sets up a few for a potential third series to use. Let’s just hope it does well enough in America to warrant a third series.
Read our review of last week’s episode, here.
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