Review: From Darkness (S1 E4/4), Sunday 25th October, BBC1

Programme Name: From Darkness - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 4) - Picture Shows: Claire Church (ANNE-MARIE DUFF) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Nicola Dove

(C) BBC – Photographer: Nicola Dove

If you’ve read my previous reviews of the past three episodes of Kate Baxendale’s four-part crime drama, you’ll know I’ve been less than enamoured. But I’ve stuck with it because the lure of a whodunit means I always want to find out who the murderer is. Damn you From Darkness! And, wouldn’t you know it, this finale was the best episode of the series so far.

Straight away the consequences of Claire and Hind’s wedding crash were felt – Hind was suspended from duty. Straight away this improved things. Throughout this series the chemistry between these two characters and actors (who are normally very good) was just not believable, their simmering passion for each other not really doing anything other than muddying the waters.

So Claire was left to tie up this mess pretty much on her own, but even though the trajectory became clearer and more watchable, there were still instances of some of the awful dialogue that often permeated From Darkness throughout. Superintendent Lola Keir was the main culprit, spewing out these corkers: “I need detectives, not martyrs. Get down of your cross”, “Shit happens. Survivor or victim, what’s the difference?”

What was much better in this episode was the sleight of hand, no more so with the developing storyline of Norrie’s daughter Megan. She had been conversing with a mystery man online, who we were led to believe was Lucy Maxley, the murderer of Agota. Megan made her way to the mainland, while we saw Lucy making her way, presumably, to meet the teen and kidnap her (or worse), to punish Claire. In fact, with Claire and Norrie in hot pursuit, Megan really was there to meet a young man, while Lucy knocked on her ex’s place. Clever editing.

Now, I never understood why Lucy was on a murderous mission of revenge. If she was a survivor of the original murderer back in the 90s, why would she mete out the same kind of horrors on other women? We were about to find out. As she held Christopher Templeton, his partner and their child hostage, her story finally came out into the open. When she walked in on her then boyfriend back in the day before fleeing into the red light district, she found him with some prostitutes. And when she was attacked in the red light district, she ran into Claire who was rushing to another crime scene. She promised to come back and help her; she never did, instead snogging Hind. Lucy remembered everything – her then boyfriend’s betrayal, Claire’s betrayal and Hind’s betrayal, while all the while fostering a twisted hatred of sex workers ever since.

Elsewhere, Claire, in one of those incredible expositional narrative drivers, came up with a stunning piece of deduction – after Felix had spotted some make-up at Roy Marsh’s home during a routine visit and remembering that Lucy had told her that the man they were looking for was hiding his own skin – that yes, Marsh was their man because he worked at the abortion clinic, and what if he his mother had tried to abort him? What if he still had skin wounds from that failed termination? YES! That would fit – he would target prostitutes who needed a termination, truss them up in foetal positions and douse them with acid so that it mimicked his own physical scarring.

Um, ok then. Roy Marsh, an obvious target, was indeed the culprit. It’s not often crime dramas go back to the obvious suspect, nut nonetheless Claire rushed to his house and eventually took him down.

John, meanwhile, was wanting to get involved, so he went to Christopher Templeton’s place. You knew something very bad was going to happen to him because his wife had turfed him out, his son had disowned him and he was wearing Boyce’s clothes. It did indeed end badly for him – he crept into the Templeton’s house and, offering help, was fatally shot by Lucy Maxley.

And so there was a Killing-style ending. As soon as Claire saw John’s body I knew there would be a moral conundrum – would she bring Lucy in, or kill her on the spot delivering her own, final justice? She chose the latter. And just like that it was over. Credits. Bang.

I would have liked a little bit of fall-out tacked onto the end, rather than go straight into the credits.

But as far as the final scene went, we’ve seen this kind of ending before (The Killing, as I’ve mentioned), which seemed to me to encapsulate one of From Darkness’s main problems – it felt like a patchwork quilt of a crime drama, stitching together bits from other series we’ve seen. There was a bit of The Killing, a bit of The Fall… the list goes on. The trouble was, with its strange scenes, sometimes-awful dialogue and crushingly heavy exposition (as well as scenes that just didn’t seem to fit together), the sum of its constituent parts didn’t add up to an awful lot. In many ways From Darkness was also a victim of timing – there are just so many ‘tortured detective’ series out there at the moment, the majority of which have done and are doing this sort of thing better.

An odd series, then. I hate criticising because I know how much hard work goes into something like this – from the writer and actors, to the crew – so I don’t do it lightly. And these are my subjective opinions, obviously. Plenty of people, judging by the viewing figures, have disagreed with me. But in my opinion, what could have been a promising series stumbled along, disappointing more often than not.

Paul Hirons

For our episode one review, go here

For our episode two review, go here

For our episode three review, go here



8 thoughts on “Review: From Darkness (S1 E4/4), Sunday 25th October, BBC1

  1. Whole cartloads of bad acting, writing, and cinematography (enough close-ups to verify that no, none of the leads have suspicious moles), all of it, every bit, could have been forgiven, and often is, with a clever, unforeseen, or at least moderately compelling final scene.

    Unluckily for us hapless viewers, this was no Sopranos. Even with the gunshot, cutting to black and rushing in the credits was ludicrously awful, a creative cock-up nearly beyond belief, but for the fact that we’d already watched a steady deterioration in plot and commonsense beginning with scene one, shot one.

    A nearly complete waste of four hours of my life.


  2. Michael

    Great review; encapsulated my own reservations about the series very succinctly, particularly around the ending. As you say, a shame – it did have potential…


    • Paul Hirons

      Thanks Michael, appreciate it. It was indeed a shame – I hate criticising for the sake of it, but it just felt like an opportunity missed.


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