Eternal Law: Review: Series 1 Episode 6

A case of brothers falling out may be the catalyst for the end of the world…

Spoilers ahead for the series finale

In one of the earlier reviews, I commented that at its heart, this series has been about the temptation of the various characters, and that theme comes to the fore in what sadly is the final episode of Eternal Law – co-creator Matthew Graham has confirmed to Sci-Fi Bulletin that the show won’t be returning.

Usually you’re rooting for the good guy to get the girl, but in this case, that’s exactly what you don’t want to happen, and the final scene of Zak and Hannah kissing on the roof of York Minster is counterpointed with the Doomsday Clock beginning to count down from (what else) 666,666. Six hundred and sixty six thousand, six hundred and sixty six seconds sounds a lot, but it’s just over a week, so it would have been really interesting to see how the show would have continued.

Both Zak and Mrs Sheringham are tempted through the episode, with Zak’s parting shot to Richard of “Cheese and biscuits” not exactly up there with “Get thee behind me, Satan,” even if it’s making the same point. (Mrs Sheringham’s “Just f*** off” is nearer the mark!) The confrontation between Zak and Richard in the Minster, beginning with the latter ironically playing Hark the Herald Angels Sing on the organ, gives some answers to the questions the show has been posing about the two of them, but there’s clearly more regarding Richard’s fall that could have come out.

The case of the week provides opportunities for some nicely set up sequences by director Adrian Shergold, particularly the moment when Hannah is followed and then surrounded by angry factory workers after she’s given the order to shut the place down. Stylistically, the episode contains some new ideas which perhaps could have been introduced earlier, notably Richard’s direct looks into camera.

And time for some praise for Tobias Menzies as Richard Pembroke, a part that could have become overtly melodramatic in the wrong hands. It’s only in this episode that he really lets rip, apparently channelling Jack Nicholson’s Joker on more than one occasion, and doing his best imitation of a gargoyle at the end of the battle with Zak.

If you look at recent genre shows, it does seem as if they need to get to about episode six or seven before they really find their feet: the late lamented Outcasts was finally firing on most cylinders by the end, while the makers of Terra Nova were on track around that point (and as at the time of writing, the jury is still out as to whether they were in time to rescue a second season).

The latter episodes of Eternal Law showed what the series could have been, and it’s a shame not only that it was up against two major drama serials on the other channels, but that audiences didn’t give it a chance.  7/10

Paul Simpson

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