The war in Suez has the country divided and McCain steps up his pressure on The Hour to toe a pro-government line, but with a huge anti-war protest gathering in London, Freddie has other ideas. Meanwhile, pressure mounts on Bel and Hector when news of their affair gets out and Lix helps Freddie with an important lead.
The Hour airs every Tuesday at 9:00 on BBC TWO and stars Ben Whishaw, Romola Garai, and Dominic West.
Beginning this week, The Hour also airs every Wednesday at 10:00 on BBC America.
Paul Brian McCoy: So after last week, where we both felt that the quality had slipped, if only a little bit, what did you think this time out?
Kelvin Green: Well, it’s funny. We got so much revelation this episode, so many of the questions were answered, but for me, it seemed a bit hollow, as if without the mysteries driving the show, it was somehow deflated.
There were also a couple of non-revelations, which didn’t help. Of course Freddie (Ben Whishaw) was on the watch list. Were we supposed to be surprised by that?
Paul: I doubt it. By this point it was obvious. Well, once we found out there was a watch list, anyway.
Kelvin: Yes, the moment it was mentioned, I thought of Freddie, but then we went through the hoops anyway.
Perhaps I’m just being grumpy. What did you think of it?
Paul: Well, even though the audience knew it was coming, the characters still had to get that information out there. But yes, there were a lot of answers this week, and I found myself a little underwhelmed as the pieces began falling into place.
Kelvin: There was a feeling of “Yes, and?”
Paul: However, the performances brought it all home for me. Even Oona Chaplin worked for me this time, and usually I just feel like her character, Marnie, is a bit of a cliché hovering around in the background.
Kelvin: That’s true, the cast is very good, and they’re always watchable, even if the material is a bit limp.
Paul: When she lets Bel (Romola Garai) know that she knows about the affair, I was kind of moved. The sincerity was almost painful.
Kelvin: Indeed. The scene was very powerful, very honest. Probably the best in the episode.
Paul: There were quite a few bits like that this week, most notably the scene between Lix (Anna Chancellor) and Freddie, and the one between Freddie and Lady Elms (Juliet Stevenson). When Lady Elms confronted Freddie in his own bedroom was another high point for me.
Kelvin: Yes, the way she went from threatening to pleading to pride in Freddie was very well done.
The later scene at the manor house with all the wailing, not so good.
Paul: I don’t know. She was desperate. I bought it.
I just wish the reveal had been more startling.
Kelvin: It is odd. We’ve sat here for weeks puzzling over what’s going on, and when it’s finally revealed, it all seems a bit… conventional.
Paul: We clearly overthought it. Sometimes “in trouble” means “in trouble”.
Kelvin: Yes indeed.
Paul: And McCain’s (Julian Rhind-Tutt) relationship with Le Ray (Andrew Scott) came as no surprise. Although I thought he folded and gave up his information a little too quickly.
Kelvin: Really? I was surprised at that one.
Paul: I’ve known that was coming since they bickered with each other at the party. Meow!
Kelvin: I mean, we know they were close for Angus to help him out, but I didn’t think they were that close, as it were.
Still, the big surprise in that scene, for me, was how Hector picked up on it. He’s cleverer than they’ve made him look.
Which is part of what his wife was saying to Bel, of course.
Paul: Yes, I’m starting to think that the fumbling into success routine is just that: a routine. Maybe he is that ambitious.
Kelvin: Maybe he’s the spy.
Paul: If there is one.
Kelvin: If there is one, yes.
Paul: So I guess the whole big secret that Lord and Lady Elms were trying to hide was that Ruth (Vanessa Kirby) was pregnant with a spy’s baby and was being turned?
Kelvin: I think so.
Paul: It seems like the sort of thing they could have shared with Freddie, especially since it puts Ruth’s paranoia in a whole new light.
Kelvin: Yes, one would think so. However, suppose it’s a class thing,
Paul: That’s what I was about to say.
Kelvin: And the inherent distrust of Freddie’s occupation.
Kelvin: One gets the feeling that if he worked elsewhere, they would have told him.
Paul: Instead of just feeding him clues and hoping he’d figure it out? It all seems a bit convoluted in retrospect.
Kelvin: Well, if MI6 are going around killing people, and they had agents in the house, then I suppose that’s okay.
Paul: Of course, then we wouldn’t have our mystery.
Kelvin: Indeed. And I probably wouldn’t have watched over the past few weeks.
Paul: True, assassinations on the home front are a bit controversial.
So I’m assuming that the protests we see this week are historically accurate. I don’t know anything about England in the Fifties.
Kelvin: They’re interesting timing, that’s for sure.
When those scenes came on, I was half-surprised they were showing the episode, given the events here the week before.
Paul: Oh my. I hadn’t even thought about that.
Kelvin: But yes, the protest/riot did happen.
Paul: It’ll be interesting to see how they work this into the broadcast and how it’ll effect the show.
Kelvin: Yes indeed. The Prime Minister is on the way out, we know, but still the government won’t like “The Hour” criticising him.
Paul: I wonder if this will mean Fendley (Anton Lesser) will be out.
Kelvin: Yes, the trailer for next week had someone fired, and the editing made it look like Bel, but I think that was a distraction.
Paul: That’s what I imagine, too.
Kelvin: I expect Fendley to fall on his sword for The Hour team.
Paul: That seems the most likely outcome. Especially given the heart-to-heart he and Freddie had while smoking this week. And Marnie’s comment about his wife missing him.
Kelvin: Yes, they seemed to be setting him up for a departure.
Which is a shame because after Lix, he’s my favourite.
Paul: I agree. I don’t want to see him go.
Kelvin: I like him as the quiet, bookish type who’s nonetheless a fierce back room fighter.
Paul: I was very impresse
d with the way he dressed down Bel. That was harsh and necessary. Very nicely done.
Kelvin: Yes, the older members of the team have this ferocity to them. Like tigers in sharp suits.
Paul: No nonsense.
Kelvin: Yep. It’s a nice complement to the more obvious energy of the younger generation. And Hector sort of floats in-between.
Paul: Yes, all in all this is a very well-put together series and the only real complaint I’m having is that it’s too neatly plotted. I want it to be a little more daring. Push some boundaries.
Kelvin: I think that’s right. It’s clever, and well-constructed, but not really ever that surprising.
Paul: It’s too conventional in its plot. For my tastes, anyway.
But it’s still very, very good.
Kelvin: Yes indeed, after all that, it’s an embarrassing pregnancy.
Oh well. Never mind, Freddie.
Paul: Of course, there’s still one more episode. I suppose things could still get turned on their head.
Kelvin: Yes, although as you say, it doesn’t seem to be the programme’s style to be edgy. I expect the finale to be satisfying, but that’s it.
Paul: And we say that as if were a complaint. Ha! It’s good, solid television, but I’m not sure I’ll be interested when Series Two comes around.
Kelvin: Yes, if there’s something else on, I may not watch. Which is a shame, as it’s so very well put together.
It’s just not exciting.
Unless there’s a Soviet mole.
Paul: Ha! We’ll find out next week.
Kelvin: OR WILL WE?
Paul: I guess.
Kelvin: If they do a last minute rewrite to push the reveal of the mole — if there is one — to Series Two, I definitely won’t be watching!
Paul: Like AMC did with their version of The Killing? Build it up all season then postpone the solution until next year.
Kelvin: Ah, I haven’t seen that — as I haven’t seen the original, although the BBC are repeating the whole thing starting tonight — but yes.
Paul: Oh, you should watch it.
Kelvin: Also, isn’t the whole point of that show that they follow one case start to finish? It’d be like 24 going on to a second day.
Paul: Exactly. Each episode is a day in the investigation.
Kelvin: Yes, I’ve booked a seat on the sofa for 10pm tonight. They’re rattling through one a day.
Paul: It’ll make you paranoid about how circumstantial evidence can screw just about anyone.
Kelvin: The US one is on some channel somewhere in the depths of my cable box, but I can’t be bothered with it.
Paul: We watched the first two episodes and it was such a pale comparison to the original we quit.
Kelvin: Yeah, I’ve not heard good things about it.
Paul: They substituted wailing and thrashing about for the quiet pain that the family in the original goes through.
Kelvin: What? Subtlety lost in the remake? You surprise me sir!
Paul: But back to The Hour, how do you score the penultimate episode?
Kelvin: Well, it does seem a bit deflated, so I’ll dock it half a bullet and go for . The answers to our questions are not exciting ones, alas.
Paul: I wasn’t as disappointed with this episode as I was with last week’s. Even though the surprises weren’t surprising, the performances carried it for me.
I’m going back up to .
Kelvin: Well, that balances out. I’m happy with that.
Paul: And I’m really hoping that next week Freddie jumps out a window in a paranoid panic.
Paul: I swear, I would do horrible things to get a second season of Nathan Barley.
Kelvin: Yes indeed, although Brooker may be too big for that now.
Although that said, he’s back with Channel 4 after a few years with the BBC, so it might happen.
Paul: But what is Chris Morris up to? I haven’t heard anything about him since Four Lions was released.
Kelvin: After that, not sure, although I think TV companies are frightened of him. They know he’s good, but he also always invites lawsuits.
It’s much easier to commission another series of Come Dine With Me.
Paul: Hmm. According to IMDB, he was script editor on Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle in 2009. To there’s that.
Kelvin: Whereas Brooker is wasting away on an awful satirical news show.
Paul: Maybe it’s time they got the band back together.
Kelvin: I think they should!
Paul: If not for Nathan Barley then for something. Anything!
Kelvin: Save us Chris Morris!
Paul: You’re our only hope!
Kelvin: I see Channel 4 have Nathan Barley on their on-demand service, so I may watch a couple before The Killing comes on.
Be sure to check out our previous reviews of The Hour:
Kelvin Green erupted fully formed from the grey shapeless mass of Ubbo Sathla in the dark days before humans walked the earth. He grew up on Judge Dredd, Transformers, Indiana Jones #12, the Avengers and Spider-Man, and thinks comics don’t get much better than FLCL, Nextwave and Rocket Raccoon. Kelvin lives among garbage and seagulls and doesn’t hate Marvel nearly as much as you all think he does.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot. He currently has little spare time, but in what there is he continues to work on his first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.