Review: River (S1 E5/6), Tuesday 10th November, BBC1

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 03/11/2015 - Programme Name: River - TX: n/a - Episode: River (No. Ep 5) - Picture Shows: **STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 00:01HRS, TUESDAY 3RD NOVEMBER, 2015** Tom Read (MICHAEL MALONEY) - (C) Kudos - Photographer: Nick Briggs

 (C) Kudos – Photographer: Nick Briggs

We left River having grave suspicions about Chrissie Read’s husband, Tom, and he wasted no time in confronting him. That’s one of the things I like about this series – it confronts things head-on and doesn’t leave things to fester. This confrontation with his friend’s partner meant that they were both now implicated in the case, which was bad news for Chrissie and bad news for River – he needed to display the kind of tact he had been incapable of showing in previous episodes.

Why had Stevie telephoned him? Because she was trying to help someone and needed some advice, he answered. But why do you have a second phone? Because I’m a shit and Chrissie doesn’t look at me anymore and I use it for recreational use. ‘Recreational use’ can only mean one thing, and River had stumbled into something he doesn’t want to know about. His suspicions were aroused when he saw Tom’s interaction at work with a young interpreter called Ema (Anamaria Marinca, who we’ve seen in series two of Hinterland and The Missing). Tom plays away. Chrissie, later in the episode, more or less admitted she half knew.

As for River, his manifests were becoming more vivid, more aggressive, especially Thomas Cream. The closer he got to quieting down his subconscious, Cream became more prevalent. His presence in the open meeting with Rosa and other people who heard voices was a case in point. Pushed close to madness, with Cream sitting opposite and cheering him on, River let out an astonishingly offensive rant against his fellow sufferers and Rosa herself, eventually chiding her for not having children. At her age. Honestly. Who’s the mad one here? It was classic, aggressively defensive behaviour from someone who’s demons got the better of him. His decades-old coping mechanisms and mental patterns of self-defence clinging on for one, last hurrah.

But out of this desperation, new relationships were forged. Rosa ended up going back to River’s place. Thanks to bit of guidance from Stevie, River chose the wine. They talked. They shared intimate things about themselves. Rosa told River she had had a child, but she died only six weeks old. They were two broken people reaching out for a connection, any kind of connection.

But it wasn’t just River (and Rosa) unravelling – Stevie’s case was beginning to edge closer to a conclusion. At an immigration office, River and Ira met Sunday Akentola, whose job it was to ‘legitimise’ cases like Haider. But something was up. River ran into Ema outside the building, who admitted that Akentola did indeed know Stevie, even though she had just told him that she didn’t. The suspicion was that Akentola – who had a remarkable turn-around rate for these unwinnable cases – was on the make, giving kickbacks to judges and the like to turn a blind eye to her cases.

The case took another turn when River was entertaining Rosa. Ira, who tried to call River, went to a migrant hostel to see if he could find someone spotted on CCTV at the library on the day Haider was murdered. The face caught on camera was cleaning the floor but there was no record of him working there. Ira found him at the hostel, but after a chase was badly beaten by the suspect.

River rushed to the hospital, only to be met by Ira’s wife Marianne.

This is your fault, she shouted at River. You’re supposed to be partners. He’s working every hour god sends for you. To impress you. The only way I can only do this (let ira work in dangerous situations) is because I know that you’ve got his back. You barely even talk to him; you barely even see him.

Ah yes, there’s that word again. ‘See’. Stevie asked River if he could see her yet. Marianne reprimands RIver for not seeing her husband and her partner. Chrissie and her husband barely see each other. Ghosts brush by us every day, but we pay no attention. This drama is about city life – London life, in this instance – and relationships with one another, or rather the relationships we don’t have with one another. We’re so plugged into our iPods and our social networks and the world inside our heads, we’ve become isolated to the rest of the world of the living.

Again, Tom was involved in the final scene. River and a patched up Ira went to investigate a locker at a car wash in Dalston, where the migrant had kept a stash of cash in payment for killing Haider. They checked the CCTV. Tom Read was spotted on his bike outside the building looking shifty.

Chrissie, finding out her husband was rotten, said that they had recently got a new sofa. And they had the roof done in August. It came to about £10,000 and was paid for in cash. Tom had told her it was a backdated rebate. But it wasn’t. She had to accompany River and Ira back to her home, clear the kids out and assist them with the arrest. It was a heart-wrenching scene, played superbly by Lesley Manville (who has been superb throughout the whole series).

One phrase really hit home in this episode. River said this: “Why does everyone want to come to this city? It’s a city for everyone who belongs to everywhere else.”

Paul Hirons

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2 thoughts on “Review: River (S1 E5/6), Tuesday 10th November, BBC1

  1. Anamaria Marinca also appeared briefly on Doctor Who – and it’s kind of a shame that she is relegated to these bit parts, when she also had a lead role in the very moving film (or was it a series) Sex Trafic and was the star of the award-winning (and very depressing) Romanian film 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days.
    Great commentary about the loneliness of big cities and the attraction of London.


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