Ep.17 – Down to a Sunless Sea – On the whole this episode was just ok. In short, an old flame of Catherine’s who was overbearing and controlling, turns up after several years and wants to reconnect with her before he dies. He’s supposed to be a changed man but slowly we start to see the signs that all is not well and he’s just as bad, in fact much much worse, than he was before. Then it all goes wrong, she gets into trouble and Vincent has to save her again. So, on the whole despite some changes, pretty formulaic. What’s most interesting to me is, long before Vincent and Catherine talk about this man, long before she even mentions it to Vincent, he has been having nightmares, and then waking flashes of the same thing. This vision of being pursued through the woods at night by someone persists and he tries to warn Catherine. In the end it all comes full circle, Catherine does end up running through the woods in terror, just as he saw. They fudge how he knew, but part of me today is thinking, wait, so does that mean that no only does Vincent have a strong empathic link with Catherine, but he’s also having visions of the future? He’s able to see the future? That is pretty cool and I hope the explore this a bit more but I have a feeling they don’t.
Ep. 18 – Fever – Mouse discovers a pirate shop full of treasure under the city. Greed infects the whole of down below and people who had nothing suddenly have the chance to use the treasure to buy new stuff they need but also want, instead of relying on stuff they find, or borrow, or are given. All of this is focused through Cullen, one of the senior adults on the council who does some pretty nasty things for money, but we also hear about his life before and what made him leave the world above. Like most of them it is a tragic story full of heartache but he is the worst infected. There’s an odd moment when Catherine says it’s a disease from my world, as if the people down below are a different race of people. Not a bad episode, and the best bit about it was probably the cameo of some guy reading a George RR Martin book in a diner. It might even be him for all I know, but I spotted it straight away. A nice episode to get a bit more background on one of the supporting characters but I’m still waiting to find out about Winslow played by the great James Avery.
Ep. 19 – Everything is Everything – In this episode Catherine and Vincent try to help a gypsy boy clear his father’s name who has been wrongfully exiled from his people. Catherine is shown up by a street-wise kid with a mouth on him, but eventually she manages to win him over and prove that she’s a good person who is only trying to help him. The episode is so so and a little predictable, but it’s sweet and touching, and there are some interesting moments such as when the boy first comes face to face with Vincent. He doesn’t freak out, scream and run, but is just curious like most children. Yet again there is an echo of being an outsider, someone different from everyone else in society, living on the fridges and not being accepted.
Ep. 20 – To Reign In Hell – The show has always had more freedom than others. It’s not a cop show, so it is not always the same thing every week in terms of structure. There are recurring themes, being a modern day twist on an old fairy tale, but in general it has a lot more scope for stories than some TV shows. That being said this was by far the weirdest episode yet. Laden with quotes, visual cues to mythology, heck even the title of the episode comes from literature and is quoted and explained by a character in the story, this felt like a completely different story. A giant, yes a real giant who is never explained, kidnaps Catherine to take her down into the underworld, a red and hot and hellish place, where a cast out character now rules. He even wears a mask that makes him resemble the Phantom for cripes sake. So many things going on here, Vincent punting a narrow barge across a river in the underworld, a quest to save a damsel in distress, there was just too much. I felt bewildered and that someone had thrown everything at the wall and most of it had stuck. Also I had to go and open my big mouth a few episodes back about wanting to know more about Winslow. We find out a little more about him and then of course this is his last episode. All in all, a very jumbled and visually exciting episode that generally left me feeling a bit cold this close to the end of the first series.
Ep. 21 – Ozymandias – This episode was more on more familiar ground. Elliot Burch is going to build a giant mega huge tower, because he has a big ego and because he wants to and because he thinks he can do whatever he wants. Unfortunately the deep foundations necessary for the building threaten the top layers of the underworld which mean Vincent and everyone else would have to relocate even deeper and rebuild their lives again. Father is a little bit more dramatic saying it’s the end of their world, but to be fair to him there doesn’t seem to be any sites as suitable as the one they currently live in. Meanwhile Catherine is struggling with mixed emotion about Burch who is both evil and generous and he appears to care for her. Their interactions awaken emotions for both of them and there’s a marriage proposal. The resolution for this episode was quite interesting and unexpected. It also showed how much Catherine was willing to sacrifice for other people, especially Vincent, which is weird given what happens in the last episode.
Ep. 22 – A Happy Life – There’s been no mention of Catherine’s mother up to now, but we quickly learn in the first few minutes that she died when Catherine was young. On the anniversary of her mother’s death Catherine becomes emotional, sees how her friends are getting on with their lives, having families and apparently living the good life and she begins to feel alone, bereft and seeks psychiatric help to unravel and resolve her issues. What follows is a bit jumbled, but essentially Vincent is both the root of her loneliness and the best thing in her life so there’s lots of emotional wrangling before she decides something has to be done and she can’t go on like this. Vincent tells her to walk away from him forever, to go and live her life and be happy and there’s a lot of angst and heartache. Then it turns out her friends who apparently have perfect lives envy her life in the city. In the end Catherine decides she can’t live without Vincent and comes back to the city as she cherishes what she has even if she can’t be with him as a normal couple. Despite what I felt was rather a flat ending to the series that didn’t have a lot of punch there were a few good scenes, such as those between Catherine and her boss Joe. Once again it’s a rare male and female friendship without any romance and some great dialogue which gives a sort of shorthand about their relationship. I had kind of hoped that at the end of this season their relationship would progress a bit more, but apparently we’re not there yet.
Looking back at my comments about the last few episodes, I think the end of season 1 tailed off a bit. However, overall I have been continuously surprised and amazed by this series for many reasons and it has proven to be far better than I remembered with my rose tinted glasses of memory. I am now a proud owner of the whole three season box set so I will continue to watch the rest at some point, but probably at leisure without a self-imposed schedule.
A great bonus I found at the end of watching season 1 was a documentary and a short interview with Ron and Linda, which looked fairly recent in fact, with them talking about the series, favourite episodes, the writers and the style and dialogue of the show. Also, an added bonus which will spur me on to watch the next two seasons is they have done short introductions to certain episodes in series 2 and series 3.