As disappointed as many fans were with the final episodes of Game of Thrones, there’s a particular kind of fevered anticipation when it comes to seeing what the cast and crew of such a long-running series choose to do next. This is perhaps heightened even further for those cast members who grew up on the series in question and haven’t really had the chance to stretch their acting legs yet, like Sophie Turner, Isaac Hempstead Wright or – starring in Sky’s new black comedy Two Weeks to Live – Maisie Williams.
Williams takes centre stage here as Kim Oakes, an early 20-something oddball who, since the murder of her father, has been sequestered away in the wilderness with her doomsday-prepping mother (Sian Clifford) for most of her life. Feeling compelled to go on a belated coming-of-age adventure, Kim sets out to find her dad’s killer and along the way ropes mismatched brothers Jay (Taheen Modak) and Nicky (Mawaan Rizwan) into her scheme.
The series’ title comes into play when Jay decides, after meeting Kim and realising she might be gullible enough to be fooled by even the dumbest of pranks, to mock up a video reporting that the world will end in two weeks. This forces her to kick ‘Avenge Dad’s Death’ up above ‘Try Vegan Food’ and ‘Make Some New Friends’ on her bucket list.
It’s a decent set up for either a serious revenge thriller or a wacky comedy, and Two Weeks to Live lands very much in the latter camp. The show kicks off as a fish out of water romp with Kim attempting to act mysterious, wear high heels for the first time and expand her pop culture knowledge beyond Terminator 2 and The Shawshank Redemption (two of the only four movies her mother had on VHS), and it just gets sillier from there.
There’s not a ton of angst or resentment regarding her upbringing beyond the usual late-teens restlessness, and the first few episodes tend to drop the idea of Kim being socially unaware whenever it suits the plot. She’s presumably never really encountered boys or romance growing up, for example, but it’s hardly a spoiler to say that things begin heating up between shy brother Nicky and our heroine about 30-minutes after they meet in a dingy pub.
Which is to say that the show’s characters are its weakest element and, if it wasn’t for the zippy action and winning performances, it would struggle to find any kind of rhythm.
Things improve immensely once the set up is done and Kim can begin her mission, and the entrance of Clifford as mum Tina is a particular highlight. The character is best described as a less haunted, more cynical, very British Sarah Connor, which makes a lot of sense given her taste in films. Clifford and Williams’ chemistry is excellent, and the scenes in which they’re able to bounce off each other elevate things above the ‘just okay’ level.
Really, the entire cast is good here, with Rizwan as Nicky also impressing, and it’s a shame that such a solid bunch of actors haven’t been given anything more remarkable to work with. Things do get a bit more interesting as the plot moves on and new foils are introduced, with the half-hour episodes also helping the plot to zoom along at a pace that covers up some of the show’s wonkier elements.
And let’s face it, most viewers will be tuning in to see Williams run down another list, no matter its contents. In this regard, Two Weeks to Live just about delivers, and certainly allows its lead actress to offer up something different from what we’ve seen from her before. Otherwise, it’s Hanna with slapstick, which only occasionally works.
Two Weeks to Live starts on Sky One and NOW TV on Wednesday the 2nd of September.