REVIEW: Deadwater Fell (S1 E3/4)

Up until this point, the guilt or not of Tom (David Tennant) had been in question, but at the end of episode two, it seemed likely that he was the person who was behind the deaths of his wife and three children.

In episode three, the drama lifted the lid on the terrifying homelife of Tom and Kate before the fire. And these flashbacks certainly served to make Tom the villain of the piece in our eyes.

The way he coldly manipulated Kate, and administered coercive control over her was breathtakingly callous. He had sex with her, asked her if she came afterwards. When she refused an answer, he told her that Jess had orgasmed when he ‘had fucked her’ it was an unbelievable moment, the cruellest post-coital put-down. Imagine: you’re anxious and depressed, know that you’re married to a brute, and already feel humiliated and worthless because you can’t orgasm during sex. Then add to the fact that your husband – perfect in so many people’s eyes – drops the bombshell that he had not only slept with your best friend, but he satisfied her, too.

How cruel.

And yet, this was nothing new to Kate. She asked him the next morning – when Tom was acting as if it was business as usual – why it had to be her friend… again.

This wasn’t the first time this had happened.

There was another example of his awfulness. Tom and Kate had his mother over for dinner, the night after he dropped his bombshell. His mother wanted some more food because it was delicious. Tom had been leading the conversation because Kate was quiet, off her food. Lynn had noticed.

They bickered slightly over who should get Lynn more food, and Tom snapped at Kate. He didn’t shout or scream, he just bore his eyes into her and quietly snarled, “Fucking get the food”. It was such a flip in mood, such an unexpected outburst, you were suddenly wondering what he could be capable of…

Elsewhere, Steve was having a hard time processing Jess’s own bombshell from the previous episode. He was drinking – a lot – and cracking onto his boss, Sandra. he also had the opportunity to interview Tom during the investigation, and properly laid into him.

Tom’s arrest, you may remember, was due to the testimony of a youth from the village – a drinker and smoker, a lad who came from a broken home – and therein lay a problem: it was revealed that Steve had coerced the lad into giving a false witness statement. Now the investigation was in peril, Steve’s career was in tatters and the last we saw of him he was standing on the each of a cliff contemplating his own mortality.

It was a neat twist to make the good guy do a bad thing, which added a layer to the ‘perfect man being not very perfect’ storyline of Tom. And that’s the point of Deadwater Fell – the things that happen behind the curtains, and bubble under the surface. The fact that this is a bona fide whodunit, make this addicted viewing as well as shining a light on domestic abuse of a kind that doesn’t leave physical scars; it’s the kind that wears someone down, destroys their confidence and self-esteem and makes someone tread on eggshells.

So this is the question we’re all asking heading into the final episode: is Tom, a manipulator, a psycho-sexual abuser, a philanderer, also a murderer. Because you can be a spousal abuser and a horrid person, and not be a murderer.

We’ll soon see.

Paul Hirons



6 Comments Add yours

  1. Dan Campling says:

    Only 1 episode to go yet so many questions still to be answered. Why did Kate buy a padlock and lock the children in? Why was the headmaster immediately, all be it drunkenly, adamant that Tom was the killer? Kate reached out to Steve for help re. Tom following the car crash but he failed to act. Did Kate reach out to anyone else? What possible motive could anyone else have had for murdering the entire family. Why has Tom got such substantial debts that he has borrowed money from his in laws and asked his mother to re mortgage the farm “again”, suggesting she’d done so for him before?

    I look at it as there being 3 scenarios. Firstly, everything happened exactly as Tom said and Kate was indeed the guilty party. Secondly, Tom killed them all and is covering his back although I’m lost as to a reason for him to murder his own children. Kate may have done so and rationalised it in her damaged mind but I can’t see Tom doing the same. Thirdly, someone else was in the house that night and killed them. As I mentioned earlier, I’m struggling to find a reason for this though. It could be that someone else injected Tom without his knowledge and he made up the story about Kate showing him the children dead in their beds as he genuinely believes Kate did it and fears no-one will believe that he didn’t do it himself as the lone survivor.

    There’s one other little thing that’s bothering me, and I may just be reading too much into it but it’s still niggling at me. Way back in Episode 1, Steve and Jess were asleep in bed and Steve’s little boy came into their room and said “There’s a burglar”. Not “I’ve had a bad dream”, or “I heard a noise”, or “I can’t sleep”. It struck me as an odd thing to say, probably because it’s not something I would’ve said as a child, but I’m wondering if what he actually heard was Steve or Jess coming back in the house and up the stairs after killing the family. Or, as I previously mentioned, maybe it was just a throwaway line.

    I’m just hoping we get a definitive answer and it’s not left open ended.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paul Hirons says:

      Good shout, Dan. I’ve got that one logged away in the back of my mind, too. In the end it could neither of the prime suspects, and just someone external to the story so far.


  2. COOKE says:

    So many ambiguities… your last paragraph is spot on!
    But can you throw any light on the money in the envelope? Tom’s mother is obviously conflicted about his coercive behaviour, and prone to being manipulated herself. Tom pressured her for money for a better lawyer, she withdrew a large amount, but then put it through Kate’s parent’s (?) letterbox and didn’t visit Tom. Was it possibly some kind of ‘apology’ to them…?


    1. Paul Hirons says:

      That’s what I thought, but I was never sure of what the money was.


      1. Jane says:

        Was she not paying them back for a previous loan they’d made to Tom?

        Liked by 1 person

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