3. Ghosts Of The Deep
I was heartened by the many kind and positive comments that my last review of The Deep evoked. It’s obvious this show already has a dedicated following.
Before I watched the third episode, I decided to take a step back from this particular entertainment abyss and try to see the bigger vista of where The Deep might go, and where it’s already been.
It struck me that in shipboard dramas the vessel is often either a personality in its own right, or an inanimate star that will shine at some point to get the cast out of the deep doo doo. But in this show, as nice as it looks, the DSV Orpheus is a complete liability, more likely to contribute to killing all the crew than rescuing anyone. Unless the writers suddenly get some love for their sub, its contribution is more of a doorway to disaster than a potential avenue of escape.
But then, being realistic, how many crew members are coming back from this voyage? Not many, and very possibly none at all. Clem’s not coming back, very possibly because he’s terminally ill, unless what they discover down there cures him. As for Samson and Frances, they’re doomed because they’ve had an affair. This reminds me of the Matt Hooper character in Jaws (played in the film by Richard Dreyfuss), who in the Peter Benchley book (he also wrote something called The Deep) gets eaten. The reason he’s shark lunch in the book is that he has an affair with Brody’s wife, but that never happens in the movie, so he’s allowed to survive.
That leaves the rest of the crew who, from the outset, look like they’re all wearing red shirts under their sub apparel. With no crew fatalities in episode two, my guess was that we’d see at least another in Ghosts Of The Deep. I was wrong, partially.
In terms of the quality of this show, episode three represented a huge leap over the first two, to the point where I was genuinely impressed with how the story was allowed to develop and with the various twists they introduced.
Yes, a good part of the narrative circulated around something borrowed from K-19: The Widowmaker in that the reactor which needs to be fixed will kill the person sent to do that job, but the variation on that theme they offered wasn’t at all bad.
Even some of the lesser characters, like Svetlana, had some half decent scenes and dialogue. Initially, I found this very confusing, because Ghosts Of The Deep was directed by the same director, Jim O’Hanlon, but then I realised that this one was written by Paul Rutman and not the show’s creator, Simon Donald. Is this why this episode was much better than the ones before? It’s just a thought.
The only part that I didn’t really care for was the whole sub-plot of leaving Clem behind to look for his lost wife. Why they didn’t just tell him to follow in one of the two available mini-subs was beyond me, but they didn’t, and Minnie Driver made some excruciating faces in her attempt to convey the anguish of leaving him to certain death.
On the upside, when the destruction of the Volos got flipped it wasn’t wholly predictable, even if they couldn’t be bothered to apply the right makeup to Sacha Dhawan (Vincent) to make him appear irradiated at the end.
Next week they’re back onto a homage to The Abyss, it appears, which luckily means they’ll be away from the Volos and all the Russian clichés that it’s has come to signify.
I just hope the rest of the series is as entertaining as this one was, and they resist the temptation to plunder every sub drama movie they’ve ever seen.
Read our review of The Deep episode 2: Into The Belly Of The Beast here.
The Deep is airing on BBC1 Tuesdays at 9pm.