Okay, if last week’s episode was rather different from the normal run of the mill TV instalment, this one is completely out there – a jump down the rabbit hole, a trip through the looking glass and the full pharmacopeia of the Matrix rolled into one. Richard Hatem’s script begins with a shocking twist that makes you start to query everything you’ve learned about the series and the character of Damien – and then treats that merely as a springboard for a complete reassessment of everyone and everything’s place in the mythos.
There’s a logic to it, albeit one that only becomes apparent towards the end of the episode, and it relies on Bradley James giving the sort of committed performance that he’s demonstrated up to now, but here delivers tenfold. Nothing that Damien has taken for granted seems to be true, whether it’s relationships, his own past, or the events of the past few days. We learn more about Scott Wilson’s John Lyons, while Barbara Hershey is given plenty of strong material, and runs with it – the final shot of her could almost be captioned with the Shakespeare line about “how sharper than a serpent’s tooth…”
Bess Armstrong has an intriguing role in the episode (which I won’t spoil), but suffice it to say that I was reaching the point of returning to the 1976 movie to see just how the pieces slotted together when events reached a critical juncture. It was actually her character’s involvement that made me realize what had to be happening – particularly knowing the respect which Glen Mazzara and the team have for Richard Donner’s original film.
Director Nick Copus – responsible for the 2009 version of The Day of the Triffids, as well as the recent Mr Freeze run on Gotham – ramps up the horror element of the script, with well-chosen shooting angles and a great use of shadows, as well as some rapid cutting that felt more cinematic than televisual.
It will be very interesting to see what Damien has learned from the events of the episode, and how that plays into his future relationships…
Verdict: Very much playing to the series’ horror roots, this is another powerful episode. 8/10