This review contains spoilers.
Hurray! After a slow time of it last week, the penultimate episode of Requiem has made a satisfying move into the much more interesting territory it has long been threatening to explore – and by concentrating on a different character, and shifting the action out of the small Welsh town that we’ve been stuck in for a breath of fresh air, I found my original excitement for the concept returning. Crime, horror, and relationship drama: these elements have not always combined effectively, but episode five gave us a great example of how to make the most of all three.
Firstly, this was Hal’s episode – cue a line about the accompanist finally getting to sit centre stage – and Joel Fry was very watchable as he brought some much needed energy to that character. Hal decided to confront Matilda over her dodgy decisions and selfishness, and then took matters into his own hands by driving out of Wales to track down information about her parentage. Seeing him finding things out and piecing clues together was as much fun as watching him make tentative moves towards a relationship with Trudy. Last week that blossoming romance seemed like a mis-step; this week it contained a sweetness that won me over.
It wasn’t all hearts and flowers, though; the arc of Hal’s transformation from doormat to go-getter ended badly. As soon as he started seeing strange things in his car on the journey back to Wales it was obvious a crash was coming up. But, as with all the set pieces in this series, director Mahalia Belo made a brilliant job of building up the awful tension, and then even delivered a final surprise that has really whetted my appetite for the final episode to come.
It’s not only the fate of Hal that kept me engaged. Requiem has been hinting throughout the series at some very dark possibilities to explain the disappearance of local child Carys Morgan twenty years ago, and it has finally begun to deliver. Not one child missing, but two, now, and perhaps many more… It seems that a group of locals dedicated to contacting and manipulating ‘spirits’ are about to meet again, and young Davey Morgan, Carys’ brother, might be in danger. The realisation that some of the townsfolk who seemed benign are behind such evil deeds unfolded nicely, leading to the promise of a climactic rescue attempt. But is Matilda up to the job of becoming a heroine?
Matilda (played by Lydia Wilson) has been a divisive character from the start, which has kept me interested in her and the choices she makes. This week she even pressurised a mentally unstable person into not taking their medication in order to try to contact the dead. Séances, flickering lights, and speaking in odd voices: these are more of the screen horror classic reboots we’ve come to expect from Requiem, and it delivered, as usual. What’s more, Matilda’s decision to record the event without even attempting to put compassion first was shocking. A disintegrating personality, she seems to be unable to put anybody’s thoughts or feelings before her own. She is obsessed with discovering her real parentage, and that also means she’s an easy target for those willing to feed her disinformation. Off she rages, in whatever direction she’s been pointed, never seeming to lessen in anger or energy. How will this get used in the final episode? The question of whether she’ll find her answers without self-destructing or bringing yet more harm to others is a fascinating one. Right now she feels like a loose cannon, capable of either doing great damage or putting the world to rights.
Speaking of which, let’s give a cheer for more traditional heroine PC Graves (Clare Calbraith) who has been the most capable character when it comes to solving mysteries. Thanks to her we now know what Davey’s father and his friend have been telephoning each other about. And then we experienced yet another horror set piece as she stumbled through the spooky woods at night. She looked very vulnerable right up until the point she disarmed and arrested her suspect – if the child abductors and spirit-wranglers get on the wrong side of her, I don’t fancy their chances much.
So now we get to find out how all three elements – the horror, the mystery, and the relationship drama – will resolve. A big concern here has to be how the writing is going to tie it all together, and what might get overlooked or not explained to viewer satisfaction. But, to be honest, it might be a lot easier to forgive a few bits and pieces that get overlooked or not quite explained as long as Requiem does decide to go all out on the horror. I could happily sacrifice a bit of dramatic relationship stuff just as long as there really is something truly abominable happening in those woods…
Read Aliya’s review of the previous episode here.