Ep. 5 – Masques – This episode really plays with the strong theme of Catherine and Vincent being different people from different worlds who don’t belong together. The Romeo and Juliet vibe comes through a lot, people who can never be together, on different sides of a line that should never be crossed, and it’s also tied into a story featuring the troubles in Northern Ireland at the time. A famous writer from Ireland is in New York and she’s caught in the seemingly endless cycle of violence. So there are lots of echoes of what’s going on between Vincent and Catherine, even when it’s not about them. The title refers to a masquerade ball that Catherine is attending up town, and I’d forgotten Vincent goes out into the city above without having to hide his face. People just assume it’s wonderful make up or a clever mask, and there’s a lovely moment at the end when a jogger sees him and does a double take. Again there are moments for Catherine to shine, to take care of herself and kick some arse as she’s no-one’s victim. I was also curious to see that I think this was the first episode written by GRRM himself. Overall a nice reminder of the current status quo but I’d like to see things start to move on now. There’s still so much to explore but it seems as if the show is in no rush to get there.
Ep 6 – The Beast Within – This was a really interesting episode because as well as Catherine’s story of corruption down on the docks, we found out a bit more about Vincent’s childhood. It seems totally reasonable those kids who grew up with him wouldn’t be scared or freaked out by his face, so it was interesting to see someone from his old days. Their paths went in very different directions and when this old friend, now enemy, hurts Catherine we see Vincent lose control. His old friend is petrified, surrounds himself with armed me and nearly wets himself when he comes face to face with an enraged Vincent and the full weight of his rage. Once again Catherine takes care of herself in a tough situation, but she isn’t invincible or made out to be a superhuman. We also met another lonely character, a man devoted to his work and the good fight. He was tough but also tender and a really nice guy. This episode gave us a glimpse into Vincent’s childhood and how not everyone can be saved by Father and the tunnels. A very simple story but really well told.
Ep.7 – Nor Iron Bars a Cage – This episode asks and answers one of the biggest questions in the series. Why has no one from above in the city ever seen Vincent and tried to do something about it? Why haven’t they tried to capture him and expose him to the media? People love a story about the weird and unusual. I’m guilty of this too and addicted to shows about the search for Bigfoot. In today’s society it might seem impossible for someone like him to go unnoticed, but back in the 1980s, no one had mobile phones, so no one had a camera on them 24×7. Even so, someone does see him, capture his image on film and this episode takes it times and I think handles the subject well. There’s also a bit more exploration of the strange almost telepathic bond between Catherine and Vincent. We get a couple of good scenes with her boss Joe, who is just one of the nicest guys around and a solid mainstay of the series. Good stuff, roll on next episode as I’m really keen to know more about Father.
Ep. 8 – Song of Orpheus – This episode we find out who Father, aka Jacob, used to be before he descended into the world below. I won’t spoil it too much but it really wasn’t what I expected and I’d completely forgotten everything about his background. There were some lovely scenes between Vincent and Father, and also between Father and Catherine where we see several parallels between her relationship with Vincent, and the relationship Father had with a woman before he disappeared. Father has always had an uneasy relationship with Catherine to some degree. He knows that she cares for Vincent a great deal and that they have a special bond, but he’s always kept her at arms length. Finally, in this episode, she tells Father to his face that she loves Vincent, and his reply is very sad and also telling. He thinks he know what must inevitably happen to them and that’s why he’s kept his stance. By the end of the episode Catherine seems to have adopted this slightly more negative and long-term viewpoint. Once again, Vincent comes to the rescue, but this time not with his claws and teeth, but his endless optimism and by focusing on the now. Father and his old flame were given a second chance, but only for a short time. He’d equally live in the now, with Catherine, and enjoy what they have, rather than think about what might happen in the future. It was a simple story, but very well told and I continue to enjoy this series more than I had anticipated.