John appears to be getting messages from Valence, but as he saw him fall to his death, but that’s impossible…isn’t it? The more Weir ‘learns’, the more guilty that Ben appears to be and that he may be the very man responsible for recent events? But that’s impossible… isn’t it? As Weir’s head starts to spin and he begins to lose grasp of a firm reality, it appears that forces are moving against him – but what is self-preservation and what is simply paranoia?
As various truths do come out, what is Valence’s most important message to Weir and is it already too late to stop ‘Crowley’ and his plans?
At the best of times, Rabbit Hole likes to play with perceptions and make you wonder if you’re seeing the big picture, but even by those standards, penultimate episode Gilgamesh comes the closest so far to making the audience suspect the whole chapter could nothing more than a John Weir fever dream that will simply reset at the end. It’s not and it doesn’t – though there are several moments where Weir’s thought-processes and options are briefly played-out in the show’s usual superior-editing tactic as he assesses the consequences of each choice before actually initiating any – but it does effectively mean that you’re now second-guessing everything and simply assuming trickery and sleight of hand. ‘Trust no-one’ is a great dramatic tool but it means you’re watching everything and believing nothing which also affects your investment in the supposed peril.
There was no way, really (even by Rabbit Hole standards) to have Valence come back from the dead and have his skyscraper plunge be revealed as deceit. That doesn’t mean that the show doesn’t yank your chain a little and show scenes of Valence wandering around, amazingly in one piece. It is, as many will guess, a series of flashbacks that frame Valence preparing in advance for a Plan B and a posthumous fail-safe should he need it (and he did, slightly sooner than expected). Hiding it inside an ancient stone tablet is quite literally old-school tactics, assuming John would eventually find it is a bit of a stretch, though the fact it was shown in the pilot suggests that the Chekov’s Gun aspect still holds true. The person pretending to be Valence on the messaging app turns out to be Crowley (no real surprise) and it does cast into the spotlight the idea of trust and that many of the characters are talking about trust rather than earning or demonstrating it. Ben (Charles Dance) looks and acts quite conspiratorial at the best of times and some of the episode’s questions about his actions and motivations are valid, even if John and the audience are being manipulated. Meta Golding’s Hailey clearly has her own agenda and bosses, though quite why she’s giving information to FBI agent Madi (Enid Graham) isn’t entirely clear. That being said, Madi subsequently accepting a bribe to keep her newly-acquired info off the books to spare her superior (and gaining her a promotion) is quite obviously a play for her to find out more and reveal it rather than role-over for a cheap pay-off.
Again, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that Peter Weir’s unnamed character was not, in fact, Crowley himself, but a mouth-piece for the Big Bad and John discovers the deceit during a direct confrontation. Weir’s a good casting choice but the ambiguity and strange off-hand introduction always meant there was more going on. (While it’s dynamic enough a visual, Weir’s character sitting, throne-like on a singular chair in the middle of a deserted city square and overtly-gloating does feel a little bit too supervillainy, even for Rabbit Hole‘s standards. Given a beating-down by our hero, it’s not entirely clear whether Peter Weir’s character will feature into the final episode of this run next week or if we’ll get to find out who Crowley really is.
Various news-reports dwell on the assassination we saw last week, but there’s also a helpful reminder that John Weir is still a wanted fugitive. Walking around the city – and a computer store – with only dark glasses as a disguise, it was inevitable that he’d get recognised, but the store’s security guard is all too easily distracted, letting John slip out without further trouble.
We’ve almost come full circle (John is back in the confessional we saw in the pilot) and with only one episode to go, it does seem increasingly unlikely that we’ll get anything like a satisfying resolution to the various mysteries or the big picture. It’s not clear at this moment whether the ratings for the show will guarantee another season, so there’s a real chance that the mystery wrapped inside an enigma will remain so rather than giving us a satisfying conclusion with scope for more. (Such is ever the case with productions that would like a future but don’t always get it and so feel little need to offer a final chapter or full-stop of any real kind)
- Production Design / VFX8