Review: Apple Tree Yard (S1 E3/4), Sunday 5th February, BBC1

Programme Name: Apple Tree Yard - TX: 05/02/2017 - Episode: Apple Tree Yard - Ep3 (No. 3) - Picture Shows: Yvonne Carmichael (EMILY WATSON) - (C) Kudos - Photographer: Nick Briggs
(C) Kudos – Photographer: Nick Briggs

We left illicit lovers Dr Yvonne Carmichael and Mark Costley at George Selway’s house. At the end of episode one, Selway had brutally attacked Yvonne and most of episode two dealt with the fall-out from that horrific event. By this time we were desperate to know what Costley had done to Selway after he entered the house, especially a final montage sequence suggested something very bad had happened. It didn’t take long to find out.

NB: Spoilers inside

Costley came running out, breathless and snapping at Yvonne to drive, drive, drive. We have to stick to the plan, he said. What happened, she kept asking. Nothing, nothing, keep driving. We stick to the plan.

Something very awful had obviously happened inside Selway’s house, but Yvonne – a renowned scientist used to analysing complex data – did not press him on what he had done to Selway. Perhaps she sensed what Costley had done, and perhaps she didn’t care – Selway, after all, had irrevocably changed her life forever; violated her and injured her physically and mentally. This would be reason enough to not only care what happened to her attacker but also wish him harm, but still, a woman of Yvonne’s soaring rationality and soaring intellect might have questioned Costley some more, even if her world was spinning out of control.

During this sequence, especially after the Selway house sequence was coming to an end, I found myself screaming (in my head) at the screen: “THE EMAILS, THE EMAILS!” I was certain her electronic diary/love letters to Costley – her Mr X – on her computer would be found and incriminate her, especially now Selway had been seemingly dealt with. It turned out they weren’t… in this episode, at least.

After that everything happened quickly and the pace was upped considerably. Yvonne and Gary were waiting for their family to gather at a restaurant – he apologised for the affair he had waged with his research assistant and they kissed as their family walked in. And then, moments after, a pair of detectives strode up to the table and arrested Yvonne Carmichael. Just like that. No pe-amble, no sign of any investigation, it just jumped to her arrest at a family dinner. It was as if someone was pressing fast forward on a remote control.

That’s when Apple Tree Yard began to resemble a conventional thriller. We then saw Yvonne in her holding cell – still talking to Costley in interior monologue style and betraying a deeper infatuation for him that we ever imagined. She still pined for him, wanted him.

When her lawyer (a welcome appearance by the always excellent Adeel Akhtar) managed to secure bail for her, a relieved Yvonne returned home. This was the moment we, as the audience, were all dreading – that moment when her fantasy life collided with her mundane, real, home life; that moment when she had to explain what had happened. With her daughter acting as a mouthpiece for us and asking questions on our behalf, she quizzed her: why didn’t her mother go to the police? Why didn’t she go to the police and save other potential victims? All these questions we had been asking at one point or another, and once again Yvonne (in this scene with her daughter and chatting in bed with Gary) did her best to explain – she couldn’t go to the police because she didn’t feel strong enough and wasn’t ready for her personal life to be exposed. She omitted to tell everyone that she had been having an affair with Costley and she was obviously in love with him.

For me, there were two key moments in this episode. The first, when a friend of Yvonne daughter’s – a young, cocky male legal consultant – came around to ‘coach’ her through her appearance in court. As he was getting more and more matter-of-fact and offensive, Gary leapt into action, grabbing a chopping knife and holding it the smarm-meister’s throat. It made me think: if Gary was liable to snap into a rage like this, could he have had something to do with Selway’s murder? Were we being led down a garden path making us believe that Costley was the murderer, but perhaps Gary, having seen Yvonne’s electronic diary had followed the story and went to Selway’s house BEFORE Yvonne and Costley did him in. I’ve not the read the book so I don’t know what happens, and this little theory popped into my little brain as soon as Gary went nuts.

Another key moment in the episode was right at the end when Yvonne and Costley were in court and lover boy’s identity was (kind of) revealed. Throughout the whole piece we’ve known Costley was dodge. He had never revealed anything about his identity, even though I was screaming at Yvonne to actually pin him down on this matter. He had been borderline-obsessed and knowledgeable about security cameras, their function and their positions; he wore a suit and hung around the Houses Of Commons; he knew people; he had access to safe houses. He also reeked of danger, and was a big, fat red flashing light. So when it was revealed in witness cross-examination that he had applied for a role in MI5, took the training and was eventually turned down because of mental health issues and some as-yet-undefined personality disorder, it didn’t actually feel too much like a twist. Yvonne’s face, stomach and internal monologuing dropped as Costley’s true identity was revealed in court (he was trying to get off from the charge of murder because of diminished responsibility), but I, I’m sorry to say, just kind of shrugged: because I knew Costley was up to something and not quite what he seemed, the twist didn’t hit me like a ton of bricks as good twists should. I, and I suspect a lot of the audience, expected something like this.

Saying all that, I’m enjoying it and there are some extraordinarily powerful and well-acted sequences – and I shall watch the finale tomorrow night.

Paul Hirons

For our episode one review, go here

For our episode two review, go here



7 Comments Add yours

  1. Sara Latham says:

    I agree, after the first 2 compelling episodes it was hard to keep it up. Strangely it all started to go way too fast (even though we seem now to have 2 episodes on the court case) and became quite unbelievable. I had thought Mark was MI5 – but no, he tried and failed so it seems he was just pretending (how could he have access? presumably he has some mundane job that is far less exciting). I have to say it’s lost me a bit now. I don’t really care any more, which is never a good sign! But, of course, I will watch to see how it all pans out.


  2. Craig says:

    Can anyone explain how the detectives knew that Yvonne was in the restaurant? I know it’s a minor point, bit it annoyed me for the rest of the episode …


  3. Charlotte Carling says:

    I was thinking less of the emails and more about the fact that Yvonne just gave up her phone without question to Mark so that he now has full control over whether to use the contents or not.


    1. Charlotte Carling says:

      (Oups forgot.)

      Also, that scene with smarmy Laurence. It was rather unbelievable that he would be that smirking and flippant while talking about such terrible things. And will Gary’s actions really have no repercussions? Is Laurence really going to let having a knife pressed against his throat pass without any reaction?


  4. Sara Latham says:

    Charlotte – I agree and thought the same.

    So, does ‘Von’ ‘fess up about the affair now that she knows a bit more about Mark? or does she stick to the agreement she made with someone she realises now she knew nothing about… surely it will come out one way or another.

    But then, did Mark really lie? He told her he was ‘in security’ (is he a guard, or something?), she just assumed…and trusted…


    1. Charlotte Carling says:

      Well, as far as I remember it was mostly just her assuming away and him at most implying something and not correcting her. For a mature and intelligent woman she is very naïve in some respects. Let’s see what tonight’s episode holds…


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