Let’s get this out of the way first. These episodes of The Out-Laws have been all over the shop. In Belgium there were 10, over here we were told it was eight, and now, according to Channel 4, there are nine. It’s been a bit confusing to say the least. But here we are, at the finale and we’re about to find out who killed The Prick and what happens to the Goethals sisters – that merry band of women who, during the course of this series, have tried and tried again to murder their abominable brother-in-law.
NB: There are spoilers in this review
For the majority of the eighth episode, we saw the fallout from the botched attempt by Bekka to off The Prick by locking him in the basement freezer that he and his mother kept the cadaver of his father in. Instead, Bekka locked The Prick’s mother – Min – inside and when Jean-Claude finally found her, she and the family dog Elvis were frozen stiff, clutching her husband. (dogs have had a particularly hard time in this series.)
Bekka felt incredulity at the incompletion of her task and then guilt when she followed The Prick to the cemetery, where she saw him dispose of his mother, his father and Elvis (who left the building by being dangled and dropped into a re-dug grave). It was another darkly comic scene that this series has specialised in.
But there were darker moments – much darker – later on in episode eight. We found out that of all the Goethals sisters, Eva had the most reason to want The Prick dead. She was fired from her job thanks to cutbacks, and while her sisters were comforting her she confided her biggest and darkest secret – this was not the first time The Prick had destroyed her life. We saw in a flashback how, during a family weekend away, she was indulging in some hully gully with her then partner, Willem (the love of her life). Willem had problems in the trouser department and went down into the kitchen to re-energise himself. Hearing saucy noises in the bedroom across the hallway, The Prick had already crept over to have a perve – there he found a wanton Eva bent over, blindfolded and waiting provocatively for her lover. Seeing this as a perverse opportunity, The Prick sidled up behind her and entered her, with Eva initially thinking it was Willem. It was shocking. It was rape. And, as Eva revealed, she fell pregnant with The Prick’s child because of it.
The second really dark moment was when Goedele killed her husband. We’ve seen her blossom and start to escape his shackles in recent episodes, so it wasn’t a surprise to learn that it was her who finally got to kill The Prick. I had felt all along that the sisters’ attempts were almost a ruse before we got to find out who really killed him.
The murder scene was both touching and hand-on-mouth shocking. Goedele wanted to have sex on her birthday during a family trip to the Ardennes but The Prick was having none of it, and soon talk turned to the incident with Eva. As ever, The Prick denied all responsibility, blaming Eva. It was enough to push Goedele over the edge.
So, with an emancipated wife escaping a tyrannical marriage, was this a feminist tale? In many ways it was. Goedele smashed her own tormentor with a dose of fatal justice, escaping her own miscrocosmic patriarchy. Of course, most dramas and stories are metaphors that extrapolate from a core theme or idea, and this was, ultimately, the story of a woman – Goedele – who had had enough of being manilpulated and tortuously controlled, and began to fight back. It showed that the bond between sisters – between women – was, in this case, stronger than any marriage to any man. Yes, the murder of The Prick and the attempts on his life by the Goethals sisters were all part of the modern fairytale veneer that kept the drama ticking over, but there was something deeper at play here – it was about liberation, independence, and escape. Escape from a silent prison and a lonely marriage.
But what was also interesting – and bolstered the fairytale comparison – was how the sisters’ evolved as their plans evolved. These plans became more daring and more complex, as if to suggest that the idea of murdering someone was giving them a feeling of addictive power that began to take over. The fact that, in episode eight, that they were so desperate to kill him they dispersed and became secretive to even one another suggested that their initial plan had turned into obsessional behaviour.
This side of the drama fascinated me – how people react when a plan, a whistle in the wind, turns into something more concrete and then evolves into something twisted. Like opening a Pandora’s Box; like passing a point of no return.
The Out-Laws was fun and funny littered with fantastic, farcical sequences, and some adroitly funny lines (the pick in these two episodes came when Bekka and the deliciously sadist Bibi were arguing. “So why can’t a man be handsome and intelligent?” screamed Bekka. “Because he’d be a woman,” Bibi blithely replied). So The Out-Laws was worth a watch, providing an almost other-worldly experience on a Friday night. It wasn’t perfect – it was very repetitious, and some of it was just too preposterous – but over the course of the 10 or so hours the Goethals sisters proved themselves to be a match for anyone. Not least themselves.
For our episode one review, go here
For our episode two review, go here
For our episode three review, go here
Four our episodes four and five review, go here
For our episodes six and seven review, go here