Paradox episode 2 review

The BBC’s Paradox did not get off to a very good start. Can episode 2 straighten things out?

You might have got the impression from last week’s review of Paradox that I didn’t think the show had got off to the best of starts. To be clear, while I did quite enjoy the show’s opener, I nonetheless felt that rarely had I seen so many stupid characters doing so many stupid and illogical things in such a short space of time. I have to tell you, friends, that my hopes for episode two were not high.

Still, writing for this site does throw up some very welcome pleasures and unexpected treats. Meeting Christopher Lloyd last week was a massive highlight. Getting to watch an episode of Doctor Who in the same room as David Tennant was amazing. I might even get to watch Avatar on a ridiculous big screen before its released if I play my cards right.

Paradox episode two was still shit, though.

But! Let me temper that. It was still packed full of downright crazy, illogical actions. It still left me furiously hunting around my house for the toughest material I own to repeatedly smack my head with from time to time. But it was the kind of shit you can’t help but enjoy. I appreciate that might not sound like much of a compliment, but it sort of is. Snakes On A Plane is shit, but I really like it. Paradox? I might just be warming to it.

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It helped that this week we didn’t have the unconvincingly-realised concept foisted on us (although the show still likes hitting us with flashbacks to remind us of things it had shown us JUST MINUTES BEFORE), so we didn’t have to sit through baffling establishing material so much. Paradox wasn’t very good at that. I learned that from last week.

Instead, the plan was simply to download another picture with some future stuff on it, and get the, er, ‘crack team’ led by DI Flint to stop the actions that were timecoded into said image. Once more, you had to leap over a chasm of logic when it was decided that Flint’s crew was the only logical choice to handle this (but given how weedy the pair in charge came across, they may as well have made key decisions with dice), but it almost seems folly to put up such an argument.

Before we really got going, though, there was the unconvincing romance between Tamzin Outhwaite’s DI Flint and Mark Bonnar’s DS Holt. We only really knew that they were even together when they celebrated the death of 74 people in the last episode (is it us, or did the number go up?) by banging each other senseless. Within two minutes of this one, Flint has dumped Holt. I’m not quite sure why, but as nobody seemed to put up much of an argument, it seemed churlish to ask.

More importantly, we got back to Emun Elliot’s Dr Christian King. Elliot’s brief here seems to be to look a bit sinister, a bit unhinged, and a little bit bonkers. And the part of King is lucky to have him. The show seems more interesting when he’s chucking out his little moments of genius, and along with Mark Bonnar, he takes the acting honours for the show to date.

This time, King has got another picture which threw together some more random objects, and it all kind of reminded me of the old quiz show 3-2-1, where you had to come up with some spurious bollocks as to how they were all linked together. If Ted Rogers were still with us, a cameo from him would be all but essential.

To be fair, DI Flint got into the spirit too, demonstrating the necessary intelligence to be a stereotypical quiz show contestant. At one point, she was staring at a car number plate, trying to work out what it was. “Yellow background, black letters…”, she puzzled.

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“It’s a number plate,” said my wife, immediately.

“It’s a number plate,” said everybody watching.

“It’s a number plate,” screamed out some bacteria that was scurrying along my kitchen floor.

Eventually, someone leaned in to help. “It’ll be a number plate,” Holt suggested to Flint.

I think I actually started to cry at this point. I bet the woman has never won a pub quiz in her life.

The problem, though, is that you could drive holes through the logic gaps in Paradox for the rest of the review, so perhaps it’s best to deal with them now and be done with. My favourites were the electricity that went down, that suddenly seemed to be working again. Flint running after Holt after she’d just sent him out of the room, to tell him that she wasn’t going to apologise (then stay where you are then, you dozy sod). The fact that everyone was so laid back considering the big explosion of just a day before. And my flat-out favourite, the comedy highlight of the episode, when Flint broke into a car in broad daylight with a great big huge chisel thing, in full view of a police officer. It would have been less subtle if she’d walked up to said policeman, pissed on his shoes, and then nicked the car. I wasn’t quite convinced as to why she had to sneak around the police anyway for much of the episode (in spite of an explanation of sorts being given), but again, it felt easier just to accept it.

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All this considered, I found the main thrust of the episode quite good fun. The piecing together of the clues was decent enough, and the race against time element – complete once more with the big plasma screen with a massive countdown clock on it – made for perfectly functional entertainment. And I like that it took a different path with the ending this time, by saving the drowning kid, and by Holt not dropping dead (I’ll gloss over the odd concealing from Holt that he was due to die, which probably would have helped him if he’d known it).

This could all potentially set up some interesting consequences for the next episode. I’ve got four Final Destination movies on my films-watched list, so I’m wondering now if destiny is set to exact some kind of revenge, and am intrigued as to what Intergalactic Facebook will download to King’s laptop next. The perils of meddling with destiny, to be fair, were forewarned when DC Gada – played by Chike Okonkwo – gave the Doc Emmett Brown speech about not messing with time. I admired Okonkwo enormously for saying it all without cracking his face once.

Paradox is, if you apply any kind of deep analysis to it, illogical nonsense built on foundations of bog roll. But is it fun? Yes, I think it is. I can’t put my finger on why, and if it troubles any respected awards ceremonies over the next twelve months, then I’ll be convinced that it’s me living in some kind of paradox. But I didn’t begrudge it the hour of time it took out of my life, and am morbidly curious as to what random nonsense they’ve got in the locker for next week.

See you then?

Read our review of the series opener here.