Psychoville series 2 episode 5 review

Psychoville reaches its penultimate episode, and it’s full of drama and plot revelations. Here’s our review…

Warning: this review contains spoilers.

In retrospect, I suppose it should have been quite obvious that softly-spoken toyshop owner Peter is a latter-day member of the Third Reich. He had the secret stash of Nazi memorabilia buried beneath the facade of his toyshop, after all, and he even has the little moustache. And yet, it was only when he emerged from the shadows in his uniform that the Reichsmark dropped. And as it turns out, actor Jason Watkins makes for the perfect heel-clicking Obersturmführer.

This last-moment twist – not to mention the sad departure of Tealeaf – served as a coda to what was surely the most dramatic Psychoville episode yet. Librarian Jeremy Goode’ moments with Detective Finney (yes, I’ve changed my mind again – he really does appear to be a detective, with policemen at his disposal and everything) are positively electric, and both Mark Bonnar (who, by the way, was also superb in the last two episodes of Doctor Who) and Reece Shearsmith were fantastic here.

Their performances were so impressive, in fact, that it was easy to overlook the various revelations that emerged during their exchange. That Jeremy was an inmate at Ravenhill isn’t a huge surprise, but the news that he was a John Nash-style mathematical savant, and helped Nurse Kenchington with her weird experiments certainly is.

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And then we had the tender final moments David shared with his mother. Some were unexpectedly funny – their rolling around in a gigantic plastic ball, a pastime apparently called Zorbing – but Maureen’s death was extremely touching, although an unexpected blast of The Gap Band’s Oops Upside Your Head did lighten the tone a little.

Elsewhere, Mr Jelly disguised himself as Mr Jolly, and managed to use his late rival’s identity card to blag his way into the grounds of Medistore Incorporated, where he learned that Nurse Kenchington had been spending £2000 a month to keep her dead father’s head frozen. There’s a great cameo here from Katherine Parkinson (Jen out of The IT Crowd) an amusing nod to My Fair Lady courtesy of Mr Jelly’s sidekick, Claudia (“How kind of you to let me come,” she mewls), and an unsettling moment involving a shattered frozen hand.

For me, Hattie’s ongoing marital affairs remain the least satisfying strand of the series so far, and it’s almost a relief to see poor old Shahrouz liberated from his chains by his boyfriend.

And then there’s locket, which passed hands several times in this episode, from Debbie to Hattie, and finally to Tealeaf and Herr Peter.  The maguffin is clearly the final key to the Psychoville mystery, and an important part of Jeremy’s research at Ravenhill, and no doubt will play a part in the revival of the deceased Nazi war criminal that’s likely to take place next week.

Revelation-packed though this week’s episode was, it’s the little comic touches that I most enjoyed in this week’s episode: David’s pack of serial killer Top Trump cards fashioned from serial boxes. A brief yet on the money poke at the quality of BBC3 comedy. The unexpected origins of the ubiquitous Silent Singer.

Great though Psychoville season two’s meandering little mystery is, it’s these little flourishes that keep me engrossed – the touches that bring these cartoon-like characters to life. As the final episode of the series approaches, I’m mildly anxious that it may end on the same inauspicious note that the last one did, but at the same time, aware that the quality of the show’s script and characters have made the journey more than worthwhile.

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Read our review of episode 4 here.

The final episode of Psychoville will air on Monday, 6th June on BBC Two  at 10pm.