BBCHD - 21st February 2010 - 9.00pm
Opening with the now familiar pre-titles flashback sequence, we find ourselves in London 1941 and witness the first encounter between Ivan and Daisy. A fantastic scene that exposes the reasons why they eventually partnered up, with Ivan suggesting to Daisy that she will always have thwarted ambitions if she stays with the humans, challenging her to seize danger and become indestructible. A reflection, in effect, of the terrible revenge that she encourages Mitchell to carry out later in the episode.
Toby Whithouse is back as writer and you know that major sections of the story arc are about to shift into place because this is the penultimate episode of the series. As Nina walks back down the street she left at the beginning of this series we know she's there at Kemp and Jaggat's behest and that a trap is about to be sprung. Great to see Sinead Keenan as Nina and back as a major cog in the series' plotting. Her chat with Annie is intercut with George waking up in his new home as Annie reveals to Nina that he has moved on and found someone else. Also, take note of how concerned George is about what time it is when he does wake up, at breakfast with Sam and Molly and then Nina's mention of the full moon because it's a little signal of how Whithouse is going to turn George's world upside down by the end of the episode.
Russell Tovey and Sinead are, as ever, great together and their first get together in the kitchen is bristling with wariness and anger. Love the bit where Nina explains that she's met people who might have a cure. 'For what?' ask George, 'Cystitis, what do you think!' snaps Nina. Even though George isn't convinced about 'the priest and the mad scientist' and their cure, he decides to meet them with Nina. He's seemingly over Nina and there's a sense here that he's just humouring her, fearing that if she stays around his personal life will get too complicated. That this will be in ways that he doesn't know about yet is already suggestive of the overall structure and purpose of the story.
Mitchell picks through the devastating aftermath of the bomb at the funeral parlour, finding Daisy grieving over the death of Ivan. He believes that it was payback for the death of the Chief Constable and is still unaware of Lucy Jaggat's treachery and her part in Kemp's plans. A great set up where the audience knows more than the characters and there's a building sense of expectation and dread in what will happen when Mitchell eventually catches on. Daisy is not convinced and doesn't think it was the police. She is aware of a recent shift in the balance between humans and vampires and tells Mitchell the humans are fighting back. Just like the war in which she met Ivan, she's now in the middle of another conflict, seeing Mitchell as a potential replacement for Ivan and as a rallying figure. She wants results and she's going to use Mitchell to get them.
George tells Mitchell of Nina's return and the alleged cure but, amusingly Mitchell's too busy rubbing himself (be still my beating heart) with cologne samples in magazines to recognise the threat. He also thinks Lucy's disappearance is simply down to the fact that he told her he was a vampire. The tension between the main characters innocence in the face of what's going on around them and the escalating threat from Jaggat and Kemp is brilliantly handled and I'm sure many of us were shouting at the telly at this point. This is further emphasised by Lucy apparently believing that Mitchell died in the bomb blast. Will she therefore play a pivotal role, out of pure guilt and her affection for Mitchell, in reversing what Kemp has in store for the three friends? This tragic inevitability is exactly what the series needs after two weeks of somewhat treading water.
Annie and George just think the meeting with Kemp and Nina is a bit of a lark and there's some lovely ribbing between the two characters before George lets their visitors into the house. But the tone completely shifts from George's undisguised mockery to his sense that Kemp might be onto something when he states that with each transformation the wolf gets stronger and this manifests itself in George's life in the period between changes. This is something George is very aware of even though he finds the whole religious dimension to Kemp's solution rather hard to accept, especially when Nina herself equates their curse with 'Satan's miracles'. Like us, George finds it hard to understand how even Nina could fall for it all and their later animosity is very hard to stomach. The rebound of this is George's rather impetuous offer to marry Sam. Sadly, we all know it's going to go hideously wrong.
The pivotal moment arrives when Mitchell discovers Lucy's betrayal through the interrogation and murder of the coroner. Mitchell is transformed from a character we've admired for his restraint into an avenging demon as he and Daisy go for full out retaliation. It ushers in a final act that sees not just a reversal of Mitchell's nature but also the disintegration of George's new world and Annie's misguided capitulation to Kemp (after he contacts her through his trained psychic) where she thinks he'll help her cross over and she'll escape the boredom of her limbo existence. The hurt unleashed on the three characters is colossal.
Poor George undergoes a hideously humiliating public transformation at the school's parents evening because the clocks went back the previous night and his timing is out by an hour. It's a striking, brilliantly filmed sequence as he stumbles through the school and out into the streets, the camera in permanent close up on his bewildered, fanged face as the world lurches drunkenly around him. His screams of panic and desperation fade into a scene of a packed commuter train coming to an unscheduled halt and the sounds of an attack over the guard's intercom. Daisy and Mitchell have arrived and the resulting slaughter is horrific. The reveal of the blood spattered carriage and the torn up, disemboweled bodies is one of the most chilling sequences the series has ever done.
Annie submits to a tedious attempt to exorcise her. It fails because she needs a door to pass over. 'Did we bring a door?' asks the psychic of Kemp just as a partly transformed George bursts back into the only real refuge he's known. Annie is able to use her powers to calm him enough to get him into the cage. Kemp implores her to see him because he offers that he can help her and George. Sam is devastated and now understands that 'this is the thing' that George brings to their relationship. Molly however is terrified so much that George is reduced to tears, knowing that this chapter of his life, this desire to be normal, is over unless he attempts Kemp's cure.
Whithouse pushes Annie and George into their respective positions with Kemp whilst also redefining Mitchell in relation to them, turning him a disturbingly lascivious, sensual animal who insults them both but then warns them to stay out of the cities because they won't be safe much longer. As Annie and George leave the house to join Nina, Kemp and Jaggat, she looks back and pronounces 'we're not coming back here again, are we?' This is Whithouse foreshadowing the big changes that will come with the next series.
A doom laden episode that literally brings the shutters down on the series format thus far with a choral mass on the soundtrack and the characters sealed into Kemp's laboratory ('welcome to freedom' utters Lucy Jaggat). At the same time, Mitchell finally learns that Lucy is one and the same Professor Jaggat that Annie and George have offered themselves to. It really couldn't get any darker than that, could it?