This review contains spoilers.
Before we get into The Tunnel this week, and there was a lot of it, I thought it was worth making mention of its spooky opening titles sequence. The titles are a circling shot of the titular thoroughfare, bathed in a low yellow light, but what makes them so unnerving is the soft, lilting music that plays alongside. The song has an almost child-like, lullaby quality to it. It’s really quite unnerving and lends the show a fairytale-like feeling…….which was in keeping with the moral themes that episode four brought to the table.
This week’s action was mainly centred around Detectives Karl and Elise’s race against time to save old French soldier Jean-Claude from freezing to death in a cold storage unit, while four wealthy but unscrupulous business officials debated whether or not they were willing to do as the Truth Terrorist had commanded and save this individual.
One of the quartet is Charlotte Jubert, wife of Alain, the guy who was pushed under a train in episode two. It’s a nice reintroduction for the character and pay off for all the attention the character received during episode one, but whom we’ve barely glimpsed since. In a move that’s a little out there, she decides to visit her late husband’s mistress, only to discover he had a child with this woman. This is the motivating factor for her agreeing to use all her husband’s wealth to pay off the Truth Terrorist. It was high time that The Tunnel started bringing some of its host of secondary characters into the main thrust of the story and rewarding the viewers that have stuck with it through the early, muddier episodes. The reappearance of Charlotte is handled very well and there are some good moments between the character and Karl Roebuck.
Karl opens his interrogation of Charlotte with an apology. Once again, it shows us just what an odd pairing that of he and Elise are. The Karl/Elise dynamic is still one of The Tunnel’s main strengths and there was thankfully a lot more of it this week, and also the return of a couple of moments of humour that the show has sorely missed. Elise seems to think she has a good idea of how the Truth Terrorist may behave, partly because she thinks they aren’t that dissimilar. Elise is a stickler for the rules, and she sees TT’s actions as that in a game, whose rules he will play by. Karl on the other hand thinks that the Truth Terrorists actions are “just intended to fuck with everyone’s heads”, before giving his partner a playful nudge on the arm. Showing that their understanding still has some ground to cover, Elise responds to this by asking him “Why did you hit me?”
The Tunnel has missed these nice, smile-raising private interactions between Karl and Elise for the last couple of weeks, their relationship development getting lost in the vast ocean of plotting. Stephen Dillane and Clemence Poesy have a natural feeling together, and the script provides Dillane’s Karl with some very good lines this week. There’s still an underlying trust issue between the two going on. When tracking down the TT for this episode’s conclusion, before storming his hideaway Karl tells Elise that “the first rule of policing is to look after your colleague. Just to be clear, I am your colleague”. It’s almost like a father/insolent, teenage daughter relationship at times.
Another thing this episode does better than its predecessor is the number of the show’s side characters are trimmed this week. Overall it makes for a much tighter and enjoyable instalment, and those which do appear, like Charlotte, are tied to the story. Back again are teenage runaway Sophie and Benji, the mysterious stranger who took her in. Linking them to the main plot is the revelation that Benji has received a visit from the Truth Terrroist, or No One as has refers to him as, with the gift of a rather fine samurai sword. A questionable gift for someone who has been neglecting to take their schizophrenia medication.
These characters and storyline have been lifted almost scene for scene from original The Bridge but they are being done really well. Mia Goth makes Sophie into a much more likeable character this week, one who we are beginning to genuinely fear for with her close proximity to a man who appears to be one of our Truth Terrorist’s disciples. Paul Ready should also be commended for his performance as Benji. His confused state that is seemingly being taken advantage of by TT provides us with another character within this show that we can’t simply classify as black or white.
Also beginning to really take shape this week was the persona of the Truth Terrorist himself. Benji’s admission that he had just been paid a visit in person by TT/No One brought the character out of the murky shadows for the first time. Previously we’d only thought of TT as a balaclava-wearing vigilante with a scary voice changer, so the idea of him sitting down to tea with Benji immediately gives us a different image. More can be gleaned from TT’s weekly phone call to journalist Danny Hillier, a man who’s still talking as though he’s an obnoxious stand-up comedian. When it’s revealed that Jean Claude, the old French soldier, isn’t perhaps the decorated serviceman everyone thinks he is, TT poses the question that the media should perhaps be asking what might have happened to make him such a way. The inference here is that the same questions should be being asked of the Truth Terrorist himself. These are terrible things he’s doing, but did something equally terrible befall him to make him do these things, and if so, does that provide a justification?
This sort of moral conundrum was at the heart of The Tunnel this week. The four business officials when faced with the news of the atrocities committed by Jean Claude had to factor this into their decision as to whether he was worth saving or not, a decision which had seemed clear cut earlier on. Given the diverse range of characters from different social standings that inhabit the show, there’s a good deal of disagreement when it comes to these issues. It’s a smart storyline feature.
As with previous weeks The Tunnel comes up trumps again when delivering a dramatic, dark sequence. The first proper confrontation between the Truth Terrorist and Karl and Elise did not disappoint, with a genuine gasp out loud moment when TT put a bullet into Elise, or her protective vest at least. This fast and frantic scene also showed us that the Truth Terrorist is more than handy in close quarters combat, and that he seemed to know exactly where to hit Karl for maximum effect. Lit mainly by torchlight, this was a very suspenseful scene to drop into this episode.
Altogether The Tunnel’s fourth episode made for a much more satisfying hour of television. It was blink-and-you’ll-miss-it at times with so much going on, and on occasion there was a bit of hurried dialogue to make sure that everyone was on the same page when planning the Police operations. This was more than made up for though by having all the storylines seem relevant, the continuing joy of the Karl/Elise relationship and the jigsaw puzzle pieces of The Truth Terrorist starting to fall into place.
Read James’ review of the previous episode, here.
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