This review contains spoilers.
“You are not ready! Spiritually, or mentally!” yells Rev. Huw Owens (David Threlfall) midway through the final fifty-minute instalment of Midwinter Of The Spirit. If you’ve made it this far into the three-parter, you’ve already been spiritually and mentally tested with a crucifixion murder, the desecration of a local church, and lots – and lots – of character cigarette breaks. You’re ready for a finale of heel-face turns, shocks, and jittery SFX that look like nicotine withdrawal. But us viewers aren’t the yell-ees for Huw – that’s Merrily Watkins (Anna Maxwell-Martin) he’s shouting at, still swaying from her daughter (Sally Messham) having pissed off with a Satanic restaurateur (Siobhan Finneran) at the end of the previous episode, plus that pesky demonic possession thing she’s still got going on.
There’s a lot piling on Merrily’s collection plate as we head into the final good vs evil showdown this week. Jane’s ‘friend’ Rowenna (Leila Mimmack) is definitely dead devil worshipper Denzil Joy’s daughter; Angela of ‘Angela’s Bistro’ fame certainly can’t be trusted to make a half-decent ragu; and something bad is bound to go down with St. Thomas Cantilupe at the cathedral. Or “Tommy Canti,” at the “vast psychic engine,” as Huw puts it. Ready or not, at least Merrily’s tooled up with a technical Bible-speak translator to aid in her battle.
Not that you need a translator to pick up on who’s in severe danger as episode three progresses. There’s the ornament of a predator attacking its prey that just happens to be in the guest bedroom Angela is lending to Merrily’s daughter Jane… and the way Ang’s taken to calling her young charge “poor lamb”. Uh-oh. And back to ‘Beratement, By Huw’ (branding for any future tie-in perfume/holy oils: sorted) – “You are prey, Merrily!” In summary: the Watkins family are in serious trouble.
Perhaps most worrying as the time ticks down, aside from all the animal attack talk, is the lax security on display at the church–ecclesiastical bouncers not being as ‘fire and brimstone’ as you’d hope when charged with guarding the place from sisters of Satan. Smuggling in the ashes of a dead dude to desecrate during a crowded community gathering? Hey, Angela, why not. Bringing in the skeleton of St. Tommy to reverse the desecration process? Sure, Huw, come on in. Church staff member Merrily Watkins, trying to get into her place of work? Nah, love, you’re not coming in.
That just serves to ramp up the anticipation for all the involved forces (good, bad, and dead) to finally meet for an epic knock-down drag-out of a fight. Hiss as Merrily’s car runs out of gas on the way to the Main Event; grit your teeth as Jane stands to give a stupid speech no one wants to hear; gnaw at your own arm as Rowenna heads towards her with a machete. Gasp when it turns out Bishop Mick Hunter was behind the whole thing. Slap your head in self-flagellation when you remember he’d invited Merrily to the crappy Boy Bishop coronation ceremony as a ‘first date’ – of course this man meant her harm. And get so caught up in all the dastardly and delightful doings, you forget the crucifixion investigation that set everything in motion.
And did that matter? Who cares who killed Paul Sayer, really? We got a fast-moving barnstormer of a finale, with some nicely topical shots at sexism in the Christian church, and an introduction to an unusual and interesting heroine. Come back and ghost-bust for Jesus any time, Merrily. Though, maybe consider upgrading from the infected hand to a chainsaw next time… and stay away from bistro owners.
Read Phoebe-Jane’s review of the previous episode, here.
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