This review contains spoilers.
The final episode of Prey opens with each of the main characters in varying states of disarray; Marcus is injured and in the middle of nowhere, Reinhardt’s stranded after he leaves her unconscious, Mac is forced into increasing levels of manipulation and Sean is so consumed by guilt and grief that he’s permanently drunk. After the incredible train sequence that concluded the second episode, the third takes a quieter approach, returning the emphasis to the personal stakes of Marcus’ story.
I often think the most difficult aspect of a series such as Prey is sticking the landing after building up something up so effectively. With the expansion of the events around Marcus, it could have easily gotten away from Chris Lunt and Nick Murphy and become something overblown and unsatisfying. Thankfully, Prey never loses sight of what has made this such a compelling story, that of a man trying to reconnect with his family and a detective determined to do her job. It may have spiraled out of this to include police corruption, blackmail and conspiracies, but it is the personal aspect of all of this that comes to the fore. Marcus and Reinhardt have obviously always had a major personal stake in the proceedings, but Sean and Mac’s motivations are equally about self-preservation. As the four characters get increasingly desperate, they weave around each other, treading over old ground in their attempts to either get to the heart of the mystery or protect it.
Mac’s appearances throughout the episode carry a renewed sense of tension and the revelation of her involvement makes her actions wildly unpredictable. The performances have been excellent throughout, but it is Anastasia Hille’s Mac who is the standout, a woman desperate to cover her tracks and resorting to ever more dubious methods to do so. With Mac largely in the background for the previous episodes, Hille didn’t really have all that much to do, but the expansion of her role grants her more dramatic opportunity as the primary antagonist. There’s a delicious irony in her referring to Jekyll and Hyde during a duplicitous conversation with Reinhardt and Mac slowly emerges as a fascinating and realistic portrait of someone increasingly failing to cover their mistakes. There’s no maniacal laughter, no Mr Burns style finger tapping, just a plan that starts off ill-conceived and continues to go spectacularly wrong.
The action sequences of Prey wouldn’t be nearly so effective if these personal stakes, for all concerned, weren’t so high. Though this episode doesn’t feature anything near the level of the excellent train sequence, the tension and quick pace is maintained throughout as the twists and turns take shape. In fact, it is the quieter scenes that feel more effective. A particularly emotional moment comes courtesy of a phone call from Marcus to his surviving son, Finn. The first steps to a reconciliation between the pair, it continues in the same understated way that has characterised much of the series, delicately exploring a family’s grief.
It’s not the only time the episode decides to put us through the emotional wringer either as we finally learnt who was responsible for killing Marcus’ family. Out of all the scenes that have been torturously suspenseful or shocking, this one topped them all as we see Dale blunder into the Farrow family home and kill Max and Abbie. It’s somehow made all the more heartbreaking when both the audience and Marcus discover that this was never meant to happen; it was just a burglary gone wrong. The following discovery that Sean was having an affair with Abbie for years also explains the extent of his guilt at having been involved.
All of these character developments make the climactic scene all the more devastating as Sean and Mac slowly reveal the extent of these betrayals to Marcus. The confrontation in Sean’s flat threatens to descend into a dastardly monologue about how they got away with it at times, but this is tempered by Sean’s grief and Marcus’ own emotional state. When Mac kills Sean, it’s not wholly unexpected; this is a woman who has already gone through someone’s family, a dying henchman and deep-fat frying floppy disks to cover her tracks. Thankfully, Prey also doesn’t fall into the perpetrator killing themselves cliche and the final close-up of Mac’s crying face, knowing she has lost everything, makes the ending that little bit more satisfying.
Much in the same way as the previous two episodes, the third ends on a parallel between Marcus and Reinhardt as they return to their separate lives. It’s a simple but effective sequence in which Marcus reconnects with his son and Reinhardt is finally able to move on. Both scenes emphasise we are only seeing a glimpse into these respective characters’ lives over the course of this series, but one that has had an irreparable impact. Marcus and Finn are isolated and distant though finally back together. Reinhardt’s is more positive and she begins to move forward with her life by simply starting the process of clearing up her house again. They are both bittersweet moments to end on, but one which maintains that personal focus that has made Prey so special.
Read Becky’s review of the previous episode, here.
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