What a week it’s been for the habitual couch potato.
For those of us who have little to no interest in venturing outside, the television Gods have offered up some terrific viewing to keep us working on that arse groove in the sofa, and I for one have been only too happy to oblige them.
As ever with anything on here, this post is totally and utterly biased, as it’s emanating from a brain that solely harbours my opinions, so if you have no interest in that or would rather form your own you should probably stop reading.
Same goes if you’ve not yet caught up on any of the titles mentioned in the, er, title…here be spoilers.
Line of Duty: Season 5, Episode 6
Watchability – 7/10
Mother of God, I was looking forward to this!
As the finale of Season 5 rolled around, I had so many questions running through my mind about what was in store for us viewers who’d been on the edge of our seats for the past five weeks waiting for AC-12 to unveil the identity of the mysterious ‘H’.
If you’ve not seen Line of Duty yet, it’s basically about an anti-corruption unit of the police bringing down ‘bent coppers’ who’ve been accepting bribes in exchange for sharing police intel or, on occasion, even acting on behalf of the OCG at the heart of it all (that’s Organised Crime Group to the uninitiated).
Over the course of five seasons, murder, bribery and paranoia have run riot as the three central figures, Superintendent Ted Hastings, DS Steve Arnott, and DI Kate Fleming work together to expose gobshites of the highest order.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love this show. So what I’m about to say comes more from a place of love; like a parent harbouring a misplaced trust in their teenage son, only to find that they weren’t in fact staying over at their mate Kev’s on Saturday at all, but had actually been sniffing poppers and necking red wine behind the bins round the back of Aldi.
I’m not angry; I’m just disappointed.
For five episodes, we skipped down a yellow brick road of intrigue, emotional distress and disbelief, only to reach the Emerald City and find a box of dog turds with a note attached that reads, ‘IOU a better ending.’
In the previous episode, we’d been left with the sight of Ted in the cells, as he waited to be questioned by AC-3 (another anti-corruption unit) about his role in the death of undercover officer and raging Liverpudlian, John Corbett (played by the great Stephen Graham), who’d met a rather distressing and bloody end at the end of episode 4.
Throughout the season, we’d watched John as he embedded himself deeper undercover with the OCG, labouring under the notion that ‘H’ – the apparent ‘bent copper’ heading up the whole terrible operation – was in fact Hastings. Our resident chief of all the good fellas.
To expose ‘H’, he’d taken too many missteps, only for the OCG to recognise him as a ‘rat’ and slit his throat.
After a series of shitty coincidences, including the reveal that Hastings had been a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland when Corbett’s mother had gone missing/been murdered, Hastings being offered £100,000 for a dodgy investment he’d made (only for £50k of it to be found in his hotel room, stinking of bribery), and his wife being attacked by Corbett ‘paramilitary’ style, all signs were pointing to Hastings as the obvious fit for ‘H’, with plenty of reason for wanting John killed so he could benefit from the OCGs operations.
As he sat in the interview room being grilled by three miserable bastard members of AC-3, I found myself yelling at the TV.
“Of course he’s not ‘H’ you idiots! Don’t let us down now…”
As the situation looked more and more dire for Ted, Steve and Kate showed up with some interesting last-minute info that would turn things on its head.
Except it didn’t, as it turns out it was maneater Gill Biggeloe – who’d been inexplicably all over Hastings for the past five episodes – who’d framed him in order to do her bit as one of the bent coppers on the OCG payroll.
My main bugbears with this reveal were:
- It wasn’t a surprise because Gill had been shifty from the beginning. She may has well have had ‘I have a terrible secret’ tattooed on her forehead.
- The fact that they were convinced Hastings was ‘H’ only for everything to be neatly wrapped up in a reveal lasting a mere 10 minutes, seemed a cop out (pardon the pun).
- There was no ‘H’. Matthew ‘Dot’ Cottan’s dying declaration in a previous season hadn’t pointed to head honcho ‘H’ at all, but to four plants or ‘caddies’ embedded within the police force and working for the OCG (all spelt out on his fingers in morse code during his final moments, if you can believe such a thing).
So essentially, we’ve been chasing a person who doesn’t exist for in excess of 6 episodes.
- The weird and unexplained way in which ginge police officer 1 (I have no idea as to the characters name) attacks Gill in the toilet before she’s due to be taken down to the cells following the big reveal; with no background or further information provided whatsoever as to why ginge did this, or what her connections are to organised crime.
All in all, it was an ending that served tension for the first hour, only for everything to be clumsily wrapped up in a somewhat crumpled package at the end.
The one saving grace, apart from the brilliant acting, is that we also saw Git McGitface Junior OCG criminal being sworn into the police force after a season which also saw him slit John’s throat and stash a woman’s body in a freezer, so at least we can be sure there’ll be another season ahead to (hopefully) tie up loose ends.
Game of Thrones: Season 8, Episode 4
Watchability – 9/10
After watching the previous week’s episode, The Long Night; one of the most gut-wrenching 82 minutes of my life spent with the brightness turned up to 11, I sat down to Game of Thrones this week having absolutely no clue what to expect or who might die next.
As is to be expected from Game of Thrones, what started out as a mirthful celebration of life after the invasion and surprising defeat of the Wight Walkers, quickly spiralled downward into a cesspit of misery and sadness that left me shaking with adrenaline.
I’m unsure as to whether I can reasonably attribute this to excitement or my Bank Holiday hangover.
The key takeaways this week – other than the appearance of that Starbucks coffee cup – were:
- Jon seemingly not understanding Dany’s concerns that if people find out he’s half Targaryen and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, it will tip the balance and she’ll lose everything she’s fought to achieve her whole life. Then full on telling his Stark fam who he really is, after Dany begged him not to – bad move, Jon lad.
- Jamie and Brienne finally bumping uglies.
- Arya refusing Gendry’s proposal that she marry him and become a lady, after Dany unexpectedly rewards him for his bravery in battle with lands and a title.
- Dany losing ANOTHER dragon and most of her ships after Euron Greyjoy manages to sneak up on her entire fleet in broad daylight, and somehow get back to King’s Landing in no time at all to update Cersei on his victory.
- Varys making noises about switching allegiances and putting an unwilling Jon on the throne after the secret of Jon’s parentage inevitably spills out because Sansa can’t keep her damn mouth shut.
- Missandei being kidnapped by Euron and publically beheaded at the gates of King’s Landing by The Mountain. Dany is PISSED.
As well as putting me on the edge of my seat for the duration, as a long-time fan of the show (who admittedly has only read a quarter of the first book so has nothing to compare it to), the episode felt like the perfect setup for the final inevitable, bloody battle at King’s Landing.
With Cersei goading Dany into action, can we really blame her for wanting to burn the city to the ground, no matter the cost to civilian life?
I’ve since read that some cockwomble on Reddit has deemed it appropriate to leak the events of the remaining two episodes, meaning I now must hope that other cockwombles on social media refrain from sharing spoilers and ruining the televisual feast of the year.
Pray for me.
Watchability – 10/10
Anyone who has even a vague interest in true crime will know all about the despicable crimes of Theodore Robert Bundy.
A well-documented ‘charmer’, aspiring lawyer, and a downright manipulative psychopath, Bundy travelled from state to state across the USA slaughtering young women and defiling them both before and after death, evading capture and ultimately (unbelievably) escaping police custody twice.
In this film released last week (3rd May) on Netflix in the US, Sky and Now TV in the UK, Zac Efron takes on the role of Bundy, in a turn you’d find hard to believe of the High School Musical star until you’ve seen it with your own eyes.
The film is designed to show you Bundy through Liz’s eyes, and whilst I’ll admit that we don’t see as much of the relationship between the two as I would’ve liked before the idea of Bundy’s crimes is introduced, the film does its job in demonstrating just how convincing a true psychopath can be.
You can feel Liz’s heartfelt belief in Bundy’s innocence and – even though as a viewer, you’ll likely be aware of his guilt long before you watch the film – there are occasions where you’ll find yourself questioning whether he actually committed the terrible acts that people are accusing him of.
This, ladies and jellyspoons (to quote the great Eddie Izzard), is the beauty of great acting.
Despite escaping custody, vehemently denying any wrongdoing, and acting as his own defence during a trial where he took great joy in showboating, proposing to his then girlfriend Carole Ann Boone in the dock, and generally relishing listening to victims recount tales of survival at his hands, Bundy was still sent to the electric chair in 1989.
The final scene between Liz and Bundy in the hours before his execution gave me chills, and really hammered home the insidious nature of such crimes.
I’ll never look at a hacksaw the same way again.
Image credits: Line of Duty – BBC/World Productions Ltd; Game of Thrones – HBO; Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile – Netflix.