In the wake of Mary’s murder, there’s enough guilt and recrimination to go around. It’s clear that opposing forces are about to give no quarter – fighting for what they believe in at whatever cost. But as Mundi determines to bring the killer to justice and Lord Massen makes his position clear, True finds that she may have things to worry about closer to home when it comes to trust…
And Myrtle, touched by the gift of language, may have uncovered a message that will change everything…
“A few years back, pestilence ran through this city. Some anarchic cabal found or developed a power that mocks God, that molests or disfigures His natural law. It was an attack on the stability, the harmony if you will, of the empire… and we must show the victims of this deliberate plague that they are NOT special, they are not a community… victims is all they have license to be. IF I am your killer revealed… behold… the lion, Great Britain, an empire unparalleled and unmerciful in its self-preservation…”
If there’s a somber mood to this week’s entry of The Nevers – and given that we start with a funeral, it’s safe to say there is – then it’s also true to say there’s also a good mixture of snark, one-liners, multi-layered power-plays, betrayal and gallows humour. By this fourth entry the show seems to have decided its balance and though it meanders on a path oft taken by other genre offerings (rather than the road less travelled), there’s now a confidence in its step that the early entries hadn’t quite earned despite their initial swagger.
People handle grief differently and though most of Mary’s friends gather at her graveside, both True and Mundi have their own more aggressive ways of separately dealing with recent events. True drinks, fights and flirts (sometimes simultaneously) through an evening of chaos, partly out of guilt and partly out of frustration. Mundi sets about finding more specific targets with his mouth and fists, making it very clear to all and sundry that he’s going to find out who killed his beloved and he doesn’t care who gets in his way. Veteran actor Ben Chaplin, is really impressing as the weathered, bristly and closeted Inspector who is far from perfect but definitely has a code of ethics by which he’s trying to survive. Bonfire Annie (Rochelle Neil) might not have gained everyone’s trust – she clearly has an agenda all her own – but she continues to ask a lot of the right questions of our heroes.
Two major revelations in this entry are an unexpected betrayal from True’s inner circle, the real message behind the ethereal voice channeled by Mary and what happens to Maladie. The fact that a slip-of-the-tongue reveals that Lucy (Elizabeth Berrington) has actually been a spy in their midst for Lord Massen is quite a shock as Lucy has been portrayed as one of True’s most devoted followers, particularly sympathetic after she described the loss of her child. It’s clear Lucy was genuinely shocked by Mary’s death in the previous episode and likely didn’t know what fate was in store for Mary, but it does seem likely that Massen (Pip Torrens) had some hand in it and with Lucy passing on information there’s enough guilt to go around. That True (Laura Donnelly) ultimately spares Lucy after their confrontation – partly due to the moral influence of Penance ( Ann Skelly) and to her own feelings of guilt – is hopefully a welcome act of mercy and not something that will come back to haunt them. The fact that Mundi is able to catch Maladie (Amy Manson) is a surprise – upending the trope of an impossible getaway – and there’s clearly implications as to both what happens next and the mindset and actions of our ‘villain’.
The fact that Mary’s songs contain a message from whatever gave everyone their ‘Touched’ abilities’ and that it might remain alive somewhere under London (the glowing blue ball of previous episodes?) also has huge implications, though we’re still at a loss over the various ‘missions’ to which key characters seem to be devoted. It’s a clever development that Myrtle (Viola Prettejohn) and her linguistic abilities are the key, that it requires many of the Touched working together with her to decipher the full message and Myrtle’s heartfelt glee in the revelation (jumping into the arms of giant Primrose (Anna Devlin) in a carefully executed CGI moment).
Once again the dialogue sparkles with an acidic gleam. Most of the best lines are the asides and retorts that are casually-delivered like diamonds in the rough and not the kind that demand the spotlight and can sometimes look like worthy scripting demanding to be heard. Scenes, including the ‘ChessE’ scene, the verbal ‘rhetorical’ sparring between True and Massen (each singularly compelled and devoted to their visions and to the degree they’ll fight for them). Massen’s speech, delivered with masterful precision and intent by Torrens, feels perfectly-pitched and almost a role-reversed Magneto if we’re still with the X-Men analogy).
With two episodes to go of this first run, The Nevers, is getting better and exploring its potential more by the week…
- Production Design / VFX9