If they’re handing out awards for drunk acting anywhere, somebody please put Robert Webb forward. He single-handedly provided this episode, and, indeed, this or possibly any other Peep Show series, with five of the funniest minutes I have ever witnessed in British comedy.
From the moment Mark clocked him boozed up and watching Jaws (is Jaws the name of the shark or not?) on the morning of Elena and Gail’s wedding, to his final panicked looks in the back of Sophie’s car, Webb delivered a true tour-de-force comedic turn and finally turned around the feeling that this series has been all about Mark, with Jez taking a bit of a backseat.
It was a brilliantly timed sequence of events with the entire episode leading up to this final 300 seconds of Sophie’s rather unfortunate birth story. Mark had been told earlier in the show by Sophie that he had to learn to drive and she had even bought him driving lessons as an early birthday present (“She’s given herself a taxi driver for my not-yet birthday.”). The major problem with this was that the instructor Sophie had chosen wasn’t the Attenborough-like chap he wanted. Mark being Mark, he abandoned the lessons but, to save face, lied to Sophie even telling her he had passed.
Mark also demonstrated some newfound feelings for his unborn child, largely because archrival Jeff was muscling in. We’ve seen little of Jeff in this series, save for the odd cameo and it made sense to bring him back into play here with his own feelings for Sophie forcing Mark to take action, not because Mark loves Sophie (“She’s a bit adorable, bit annoying. Right on the cusp.”) but because he couldn’t lose out to his cocky former colleague.
Mark has a long history of acting irrationally in love when he suddenly fears he’s going to lose everything, even if that everything isn’t what he actually wants, so bringing Jeff back now potentially opens things up for the next series. Will Jeff want to have a say in Sophie’s new life? How will Mark react to that? Probably not all that well, given this genius insight into how he views him: “Screw you, dickwad. He’s my baby. Get your own baby off the Internet. Or by impregnating a woman with your penis, just like I did.”
All the while Jez was becoming increasingly worried about Elena and Gail, not surprising given the way Elena has been having and eating all the cakes of late. Jez, bitten hard by the love bug, has clearly hit rock bottom, which manifested itself in thoughts of wanting to kill Gail, first on a boat with echoes of The Talented Mr. Ripley and latterly nearly running her over in his drunken stupor.
This second moment brings me back to the genius of the final moments of the episode, which really began with Jeremy’s foul-mouthed abuse of another driver on the road, followed by Mark’s assertion that he had become a sex ambulance for Jez and then ended with many, many more expletives from Jez to Mark as they attempted to get Sophie to the hospital.
By the show’s final seconds I was in absolute fits as, in a weird way, it actually reminded me of my own driving lessons with my father (“Where’s the biting point, where’s the biting point?” “Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre. Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre.”) which were rather stressful. I didn’t nearly kill anyone, but stressful all the same.
With a fantastic cliffhanger for the already commissioned seventh series, this was a truly brilliant finish to a series that has hit enough high notes to suggest Peep Show could be around for many years to come. The writing has been strong – the acerbic wit of the writing team has been showcased more this series than any other, in my opinion – the acting performances the best yet and all the peripheral characters have done their bit, with Dobby, in particular, providing the show with some fantastic storylines.
I’m only sad to see it come to an end.
Read our review of episode 5 here.