I think I will be bullet-pointing this again...
- I LOLed harder than I should have done when the announcer stated it 'starred' June Whitfield shortly before the ident, like that was the most redeeming feature of the episode. As it transpired... it kind of was, with the combination of June Whitfield and Josie Lawrence almost making up for some of the fail.
- The music really started to bug me in this one with the way it kept becoming really DRAMATIC OMG to indicate something was going to happen. As if this series has not already bludgeoned us to death with obviousness...
- My immediate thoughts on the kidnap victim (I've forgotten her name already) were that given her propensity to solve puzzles, she would immediately find her own way out of the bunker (or whatever it was). In fact, if she had done that I think that might have given it more of an actual mystery, i.e. she could have escaped of her own accord, gone home and called the police, etc., but refused to divulge how she'd done it, at which point Jonathan would become involved. (In the good old days that would be just the sort of thing Maddy would be all over, of course, driven bonkers by trying to work it out before conceding defeat...)
- I mentioned last week that I was approaching this episode with some trepidation given the apparent indications towards children/babies/pregnancies, and I have to say that the conversation at the start between Polly and Laurel didn't much help. I did laugh at "He could be a lot worse, couldn't he?" but only in the sense of "GOD POLLY YOU NEED TO APPRECIATE WHAT YOU HAVE". Then Laurel pointed out it was "very early days", which was like Renwick had finally realised we're actually in the dark about this relationship, and kind of confirms my suspicions that the whole thing was a bit of a whirlwind. (I'm actually struggling to envisage a scenario whereby Jonathan would even propose to her, and I wonder if it wasn't all Polly's influence from the start...)
Laurel also mentioned the "rancid stench of adultery" not being a danger, which was obviously only put there in order to plant the seed in Polly's brain by the time Daisy comes on the scene (more on her later), but before I knew that it just worsened my nervousness about a slapdash, heavy-handed Maddy!reunion. And actually, it was a relief that Polly finally DID display some kind of jealousy because in "Savant's Thumb" she didn't even bat an eyelid when Jonathan was shirtless in his office with Joey...
- Not one June Whitfield, but two!! I liked her being a demon Scrabble player, though was less impressed with the casually racist language... I imagine it was put there intentionally given the character's age (and indeed it would score you a lot of points in the game if you weren't worried about being politically incorrect!) but, you know, just because it's not actually said out loud does not make it better...
- We were treated to YET MORE bodily fluid gags in this episode. Sigh.
- Apparently, Jonathan is not driving again. I just... I give up now. I really do.
- Polly pocket-dialling Jonathan was such blatant exposition it actually HURT. (Also, I don't care how sensitive your touchscreen is, it still takes an awful lot of screen-strokes to dial someone like that, especially given iPhones have a lock screen to get through first...)
- There was a point where Polly lectured Jonathan on being too quick to judge people and moaned about him not being sociable again, which was just... seriously, Polly, just leave him alone. HE WENT TO THE DINNER WITH YOU AND ATE THE AWFUL FOOD. He's doing his best, FFS! She'd rather he suffer further indigestion than herself suffer the embarassment of making an excuse to leave early. For all the small moments where I start to think she's not so bad after all, there are much stronger moments where I can't stand her again - and much of this episode was the latter, unfortunately.
It's basically like Carla all over again. I WANTED to give her a chance, once that initial WTF factor had worn off, but the way she's written makes it increasingly difficult to try. The complete lack of chemistry between them really doesn't help either - I'm still struggling with the concept considering half the time she doesn't even seem to like him. Ugh.
- I thought it was interesting that the new / old house was being shot in much the same way as the windmill used to be... those lovely sweeping exteriors. At least Renwick has finally acknowledged that the show needs a tangible heart that was sorely missing once they stopped filming at the windmill - "The Judas Tree" felt awfully lost without it, and I really didn't like the stupid modern, open-plan house of "Savant's Thumb". It does seem like most of Jonathan's old stuff has disappeared, though, which is a real shame considering the sheer amount of space he would now have to display it. Surely Polly could allow him ONE ROOM, you know? Sigh.
- Josie Lawrence was EPIC. Although her accent did ramble a little bit from her natural Brummie at the start to generic commoner at the end...
- It took me a while to process that the eponymous bronze lamp was actually a lamp-as-in-Aladdin, not like a Tiffany lamp, as I'd expected. It was another of those things that would have slotted really nicely into the old style of the show, given Adam's propensity towards turning famous literature into questionable magic shows - finding said lamp in a charity shop for use in the show only for Mysterious Things to happen that would have (of course) a perfectly reasonable explanation...
- As for the Latin... this was the first instance of my live comments devolving into the format of "OF COURSE [insert plot point here] HAS HAPPENED. WHY WOULDN'T IT?" In this case: of course Jonathan reads Latin; why wouldn't he? (Although it does tie in quite nicely with an idea I had for the JC/POTO crossover whereby Jonathan turns out to be secretly semi-fluent in French... :P)
- I am still not enjoying the Depressing London Office scenes. That entire sequence with Daisy was SO CONFUSING. So apparently Jonathan went out with someone called "Mad Arabella" six years ago (which places it in... 2008, so around the time of "The Grinning Man"). I don't think Katherine Parkinson's character was called Arabella, and she wasn't especially mad, so I don't think it was the relationship we saw in that episode. This entire section said a lot, actually, about how Renwick has no care for anything he's written previously and no concept of canon - rather than actually referring to anything we would remember, or anything we could latch onto as being familiar, he basically made up a load of nonsense background purely as a vehicle for Polly's jealousy.
Though, actually, this whole "Mad Arabella" thing makes an awful lot of sense given what we know (read: have inferred) about Jonathan and the type of women he's drawn to :P
And I have to admit I did LOL at him throwing her "being sociable" comment back in her face. It was about time he stood up to her on that front, to be honest.
- Polly's jealousy definitely seemed to be a theme of the episode, as it boiled over into the next scene as well when the three of them (her, Jonathan and Daisy-the-weather-girl) were having a meal together - or rather, Jonathan and Daisy reminiscing together and Polly became a third wheel. We were also given yet more pregnancy references with the fact that Jonathan (apparently) delivered Daisy's baby - a thing which I can never imagine him doing in a thousand years - and Polly snarkily asking him "Which bit would you have recognised?" Her reaction to that seems overblown even if she IS supposed to be paranoid after Laurel's comments.
As to Polly's third wheel status - I hope that gives her some bloody insight into the life she's foisting onto Jonathan. He spent most of his life pre-Polly being a third wheel to Adam, so he's no stranger to being forced into situations where people expect him to be sociable. It makes a real change for him to be the one familiarly chatting away whilst Polly sits there looking lost.
- Right, now for that entirely bizarre (and apparently pointless) section where Denise and Polly try to cover up the death of Kevin-the-mechanic (or Kevin-the-rent-boy, as Denise thinks at that point). Once the reveal of the 'mystery' occurred this scene seemed even more painfully forced. (However: see, Polly, when you're married to Jonathan the weirdness will find you, not the other way around. THERE IS NO ESCAPE.) It was another example of the episode bludgeoning us repeatedly with exposition and clues: the pocket-dialling (again), and frankly we didn't NEED Polly to comment on the "pink butterfly" sixteen thousand times - just the once would have been enough, when she was recounting things to Jonathan, perhaps in the manner of, "Oh, there was this slightly odd thing but I thought nothing of it at the time..." Also, given the fact there were dead leaves flying around everywhere, why didn't she think it was a "pink leaf" rather than a butterfly? That would at least have made a bit more sense, and been a bit more subtle...
...but then again, "subtle" is not a word that exists in Renwick's dictionary any more.
- As for the watch... whilst it was lovely to see Jonathan investigating a "locked room mystery" again (and I think I forgot to mention in all the epic fail of "Septimus Noone" that I loved him still carrying his lock-picking kit around with him. :D), the actual mystery was so hamfisted it was ridiculous. The "4" on the back of the watch that was SO CLEARLY NOT A FOUR but the initials "LI", plus the fact that the watch OBVIOUSLY belonged to the kidnapped woman because we had (again) a shot at the start that set it up for us whereby she was putting it on. The worst thing is they could have used a much better font that would actually have made it look like a "4"... (The funniest thing for me was watching it with Paul, who saw the "4" and let out the biggest sigh of disappointment I've ever heard.)
I also really liked seeing Jonathan's "workings" when trying to figure out 01.05, though it's not quite as impressive as 15:15=Isis from "The Judas Tree"... I've always thought a lot of this show's strengths - and indeed Renwick's other shows, such as One Foot in the Grave and Love Soup - lie in his talents for wordplay. In that sense the "mayday" connection was good, but he's definitely lost his touch in that regard...
Oh, and that whole knot-tied-in-the-tights thing was so drawn out it was actually painful, to the point where by the time it was worked out I didn't even care any more. I also still have no idea where the recycling plant idea even came from - was that even explained or was it just a massive leap of faith?
- There were also a lot of supposed "false leads" when it came to who had photographed Polly in her compromising situation, the first of which was to imply it was Denise's husband, then latterly their weird bird-watching neighbour (the parish newsletter chap) and his group of ramblers. I actually can't even remember who DID take the picture, if it was even revealed at all, because the whole thing was just so stupid.
- Further to my comments in the first episode over Renwick's treatment of his female characters, I just want to mention the godawful fat shaming we saw in this one - the bit with the underwear model. HILARIOUS. Not.
I was also amused by them showing the blatant shots of the BBC website's news pages, because clearly the BBC website is a fount of all knowledge on the intarwebs.
- This episode did have a couple of decent observations - I enjoyed Jonathan's comments about the "re-immersion of corpses without their written consent", and also that exclamation points were "the typographical equivalent of a red nose" and used to make weak jokes funnier. I wonder what Renwick's scripts must look like, in that case. :P
- The heron bit was just... SIGH. Yes, I agree with you, Jonathan - I DESPAIR. Following that, I made a note along the lines of "JONATHAN, YOU HAVE A TYPE", which has become something of a catchphrase lately, and was made in response to Polly laughing at his misfortune following the heron mix-up.
- Okay, so as we went into the actual reveal my notes literally devolved into unashamed snark at how ridiculous it all was, but basically: no, it's obviously not a pink butterfly; OF COURSE the kidnapped woman has a balloon in her coat pocket; the wind does not blow in a completely straight line; how the frell did the balloon not burst before that awfully convenient point; HOW DID DENISE NOT NOTICE A FRIGGING WATCH STUCK IN HER HAIR I CAN'T EVEN. Also: what happened to the original sound guys, and why did they never report their van as missing, and if you're going to keep someone captive in the depths of the countryside, FIND A VEHICLE THAT IS NOT COVERED IN NEON LETTERING.
*ahem* I did intend to be somewhat more objective there but, as you can see, the fail has broken me. Whilst this episode was IMHO the best of the three it was still an epic fail on all accounts.
- I think it says an awful lot that the best jokes of the night were those from Laurel and Heidi (har har), but then after that we had the whole "lousewort" thing again and I'm still really confused over who took that picture. Also I do wish Polly had said something about when she'd spied on them through the window and wondered what they were plotting, as it would have provided an opportunity for some really glorious snark from Jonathan.
- On a final note: obviously, there was no pregnancy announcement (thank god) and no surprise!Maddy, though I have to admit I remained nervous even when Polly was apologising for her paranoia in the restaurant, as I thought that would be something hormone-related that she'd only just figured out and they would literally drop the bombshell in the final few seconds. In fact, we were just treated to Polly's godawful smug expression at the end as Jonathan revealed Daisy had hurt herself, which is not doing the character any favours whatsoever.
So, yes. It's all over and done with, and I hope the BBC have actually taken note of the mostly negative Twitter reaction and realised that they need to stop now and let the show die in peace. It's rather too late to hope that they'll just kick David Renwick out of the picture entirely, because any new blood who comes into the proceedings now will have this horrendous mess to deal with first, and I honestly wish they'd never bothered in the first place. Please, BBC, for the sake of my sanity and that of countless others: love the show enough to let it go.
In other news, yesterday I went to see The Book Thief with my mum, and it was pretty good. OH MY HEART. The penultimate scene is so heart-breaking, but so beautifully done. I ship Liesel/Max like burning now, but the father/daughter bond between Hans/Leisel just about broke me into a thousand pieces. Amazing.
I think you definitely need to have read the book first to understand why the film works as well as it does, but you won't escape from the tears either way. :P Very much recommended.
Anyway, thankfully I have survived both onslaughts to my emotions, and now I can get back to my JC headcanons - I still have an awful lot of things to type up, and three entirely separate but nontheless-POTO-related stories to start plotting out, if only the bloody plotbunnies would stop breeding... Plus once we get back on track with the re-watch (hopefully soon, though I've not had a chance to watch "Gallows Gate" pt 2 yet either) and I'm certain there are no more tags to be tagged, I will actually start posting stuff to AO3. Watch this space!!