Psychoville series 2 episode 4 review

Expect spoilers and descriptions of gore as we explore the fourth episode of the marvellous Psychoville...

Warning: this review contains spoilers.

Did anyone else sit down to watch this week’s episode of Psychoville with a horrible sense of forboding? Following the death of Oscar Lomax, whose loss, you may remember, I spent much of last week’s review bemoaning, I’ve been anxiously wondering just whom the series is going to exterminate next.

Thankfully, this week’s episode, while still horribly macabre, followed a slightly different pattern from the three previous weeks. Scottish assassin, Finney (I’m going to stop describing him as a detective, since he appears to have dropped that pretence himself this week), is still lurking in the shadows, and more than one person meets a sticky end, but this is the first episode in the series that hasn’t seen the slaughter of a central character.

It’s interesting to note that, with Finney taking a bit of a back seat this week, deranged make-up artist, Hattie, is gradually emerging as this series’ most dislikeable character. Quite aside from the fact that she’s got poor, unsuspecting Shahrouz chained to a radiator in her bedroom, she also makes several off-colour, un-PC remarks to another character that will surely turn much of the audience against her.

Ad – content continues below

This week also clarified Hattie’s part in Psychoville‘s grand scheme a little. Entirely disconnected from the other characters in the series in earlier episodes, this week sees her providing a bit of hair and make-up for Debbie Hart, who you’ll probably remember is now the unwitting custodian of the locket.

Preparing to appear on what appears to be a daytime chat show (Bacon Grills, hosted by Richard Bacon in a brief cameo role) to promote her new book, Hattie does something that may yet prove to be a pivotal development in future episodes. Noticing Debbie’s locket, she prises the thing open, revealing a smudge of grey powder. “Smells like Sugar Puffs,” she remarks, as she tips it in the nearest sink.

Now, given that we’ve discovered elsewhere that Nurse Kenchington, the locket’s previous owner, was the daughter of an escaped Nazi war criminal, who performed dreadful experiments on the residents of Ravenhill Hospital and given the wonderfully twisted minds at work behind the series, and the repeated, albeit brief references to biotechnology, is it possible that the locket contained the ashen remains of a high-ranking Nazi? I could be barking up the wrong arbour entirely here, but it’ll remain my pet conspiracy theory until later episodes prove me wrong.

As several eagle-eyed readers pointed out in the comments for last week’s episode (thanks, TristanJBlythe and LittleNicky), Simon’s sweet little old aunt Maureen is none other than Mr Jelly’s friend and magic act partner. It, therefore, fell to Mr Jelly to act as Kyle Reese to the Maureen’s Sarah Connor. As it turned out, there were two terminators after Maureen, the bumbling David Sowerbutts and the scary Finney. We know why David was at the old people’s home, but why was Finney after the old lady? What does she have to do with the locket?

Meanwhile, Simon’s sneaked into the Sowerbutts’ residence to kill Maureen, or so I thought. As it turns out, he’s merely snuck in to hand over a disabled parking permit. Maureen, needless to say, kills him on the spot. It’s one of my favourite moments of the episode, ranking just behind librarian Jeremy Goode’s kidnapping plot strand.

Jeremy is now the character I officially look forward to seeing the most each week. Exactly what he and his obsession with a missing book have to do with the rest of the narrative isn’t at all clear, but this hardly matters. I suspect that Reece Shearsmith has had a lot of fun playing this vessel of clean-cut, simmering insanity, and it certainly looks that way onscreen.

Ad – content continues below

His attempts to retrieve the missing volume have become increasingly despicable, leading up to his holding a dog hostage in this week’s episode. The moment where the Silent Singer’s shown sitting on a playground swing holding the mutt is surely the episode’s surreal highlight.

Other golden moments include Tealeaf’s reaction to toy shop owner Peter’s hidden stash of Nazi memorabilia (“Fuck’s sake.”), and Grace’s ecstatic reaction to the arrival of her gigantic plasma television (“Actually, is there any way of not having BBC3?”).

This week’s was a less dramatic an episode than previous ones, but then, it marked a welcome change of pace and tone. It would have been rather too depressing to see yet another central character despatched so soon after Oscar.Can you imagine if, say, Mr Jelly had been killed this week?

That’s not to say, of course, that anyone’s safe in the weeks ahead. And with Debbie unwittingly advertising her ownership of the coveted locket on national television, I’d suggest that she could be high up on the grim reaper’s checklist in the next episode…

Read our review of episode 3 here.

Psychoville airs on BBC Two, Thursdays at 10pm.

Ad – content continues below