Review: One Of Us (S1 E4/4), Tuesday 13th September, BBC1

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 06/09/2016 - Programme Name: One of Us - TX: 13/09/2016 - Episode: n/a (No. 4) - Picture Shows:  Bill Douglas (JOHN LYNCH), Moira Douglas (JULIE GRAHAM) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Alan Peebles

(C) BBC – Photographer: Alan Peebles

NB: The review, after the jump, has spoilers

During the past three episodes, we’ve seen the Douglas and Elliot families reel from the news that their son and daughter, Adam and Grace, were murdered by Lee Walsh. They were plunged further into hell when Walsh turned up at their houses in their remote Highlands village, wounded from a car crash during a Biblical storm. These events were the catalyst to a hideous chain reaction, where each member of both families had their grubby secrets revealed.

The only moral compass throughout, Claire Elliot, gave a protracted monologue at the end: we make choices and we have to live with them. We have to choose which way to go and what to do with them. Every choice we make has consequences.

And she hit the nail on the head: all these messed-up people had choices, and each choice has a consequence. As it was for Bill Douglas, who finally admitted killing Adam and Grace, because he found out that Grace was not his daughter – she was the result of a union between Peter Elliot and his wife, Moira. He found out because he carried out tests for – a genetic test that doesn’t actually exist by all accounts – Parkinson’s on both of them.

I didn’t buy any of this. It was just too far-fetched, too ridiculous. I didn’t buy Bill would pay for Lee Walsh to kill his new son-in-law and, accidentally, Grace. It just didn’t make sense to me, even if they were brother and sister. He must have been feeling shame, embarrassment, and a deep-seated hatred towards his wife Moira, who had had the affair with the patriarch from the neighbouring family. But murder? Nah.

As weird as it sounds, it was great to see John Lynch turn from the kindly-faced, avuncular head of the family to a shaking, rage-filled bundle of atoms, whose eyes had turned into bubbling, dark pools of fury; his beard suddenly as coarse as moorland scrub. I do like it when John Lynch gets angry.

Many people on social media were blaming Moira for pushing Bill to carry out the murders, but this seems grossly unfair to me – as Louise pointed out, Bill, and Bill alone, chose to hire someone to butcher the newlyweds.

And we’re back to choices. Moira chose to sleep with both Peter and Alistair, Bill chose to act on the consequences of the affair. Elsewhere, Juliet (who’s story turned into a huge dead end) chose to sell drugs to fund her daughter’s operation. This had consequences, too. Claire, whose elderly patient asked to her administer drugs to end her life, also had a choice to make. All of these characters could have been a murderer if they chose to be, but only one did. It was Bill, and he was selfish and cowardly to the end.

All in all One Of Us was big old mess, which was a shame because it started off promisingly and was uniformly well acted. Who am I to tell the Williams brothers what they should or shouldn’t be doing, but I think they missed a trick with this: I would have liked to have kept the drama in one location, and spend more time with Lee Walsh in their custody. As soon as Walsh was murdered and the action began to move away from the farms, everything changed. The interesting moral conundrum the families faced wasn’t examined as much as I’d hoped and instead, as all the characters gnashed their teeth, their threads fraying with every second and had sex with each other, everything felt a bit ‘after the lord mayor’s show’. Towards the end of second episode I’d begun to lose interest.

Paul Hirons

For our episode one review, go here

For our episode two review, go here

For our episode three review, go here





4 thoughts on “Review: One Of Us (S1 E4/4), Tuesday 13th September, BBC1

  1. Just wanted to say I love your blog, have literally watched most of the shows you have reviewed way before stumbling onto your site and its nice to see reviews on them that are saying what most of us think. My pals think im mad watching and liking all this TV but its better than the Kardashians and MTV. With One of Us I loved the first two episodes but thought the end was a bit silly but slightly plausible…slightly :) Why did he not confront Moira and tell Grace at the beginning, but then there would be no killing. Opinion it was a flop. Do you happen to know what happened to ITV Forgotten with Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar? Could you review it? Thanks!!


  2. Fred

    The series was just too far fetched to be taken as a realistic tale. Perhaps as a bibllical tale, or a fable, it makes sense. The acting was indeed uniformly good, and I rather liked the cinematography.


  3. I agree, this was one huge disappointment.

    Every character was pin-balling about with each revelations/suspicion.

    I suppose it was all a question of trust – and everyone betrayed someone. Apart from Claire who was the conscience of the story.

    It didn’t work, because we didn’t get a feel for Bill’s Old Testament strict morality, at all, at any time until the very end. And we had no empathy at all with the victims, we did not spend any time with them and we didn’t feel their loss. In fact they seemed rather perfect and very annoying.

    The whole thing would not have blown up if Bill had just smothered that man rather than slice his throat – it would have looked like a natural death from his injuries.

    There is more substance under one of Beck’s fingernail than the whole 4 episodes of this.


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