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Friday, January 8, 2016

Rewatch: The Tunnel: S01E05

Despite steady improvement over the past four weeks, this episode stalled a little in terms of the investigation and the climax.

The beginning was riveting, with Benji calmly entering a psychiatrist's office and immediately beheading him with a samurai sword, but the search for Sophie and the final sequence in which she's used to lure out the killer was oddly suspense-less. I wanted to see a desperate race against time to secure this vulnerable teenager's location, but ultimately I never felt that she was in any real danger.
Likewise, the moral quandary of whether or not to send a teenage girl out as bait could have been better explored if they'd integrated her into the decision-making process. How did she feel about it? What about her mother? Having spent a fair amount of time establishing the girl's family troubles, it would have been nice to see how that affected what she achieved at the end of this episode.
Past episodes have done a good job at keeping the balance between competency and ineptness from both the police and the terrorist, with each side showing a level of efficiency, fallibility, and sheer dumb luck, but here stupidity reared its ugly head.
To think that the police lost a valuable suspect because they didn't undergo a proper search of his clothing and allow (what looked like) a rookie take him to the toilet. And on TT's end, it seems hugely unlikely he wouldn't have noticed the very obvious emergence of Sophie from a car filled with dock workers/plainclothes policemen – and having done that, why bother shooting her? At that point she would have already told the police everything she knew.
Subtle.
As such, it was with the private lives of the investigators that the real interest lies. I've often mentioned the somewhat cold atmosphere of this miniseries, and I think the reason for it is mainly because we're used to these types of crime-dramas having approachable detectives who come from warm and loving backgrounds in order to off-set the grisly aspects of the murder case. Not so here.
Karl, who is essentially meant to be The Heart (and therefore the character that can usually be counted on to do the right thing) goes ahead and cheats on his wife with Charlotte Joubart. Meanwhile Elise is having loveless sex with a man she barely knows – and though I grasp that this is meant to be a commentary on her personality and a gender-flip of the usual male/female dynamics in this sort of genre, it's still a little off-putting to see her treat someone as little more than a sex toy.
It's hard to know how to respond to this sort of thing. From a Doylist point of view, it's refreshing (or perhaps more akin to a bucket of ice water over the head) to have protagonists that are deeply flawed and capable of moral transgressions. From a Watsonian point of view, it hardly makes them likeable. That Karl cheats on the mother of three of his children before casually lying about it over dinner throws him into a pretty nasty light (and I can't say I was impressed with Charlotte either considering last week she was bemoaning the fact that her husband cheated with another woman), and Elise's post-coital treatment of Gael is rather uncomfortable to watch.
Now, I definitely don't want to turn this into a "reverse sexism" discussion, or to shame Elise for wanting no-strings-attached sex, but I also think it's clear that her inability to communicate with people (through no fault of her own) has put her in a situation where she's unknowingly being deeply unkind to another person.
I don't think we're meant to judge her for unashamedly seeking an outlet for her sex drive, but neither are we expected to celebrate or laugh at her treatment of Gael. When he turns up at her door with a bottle of wine and a request for a talk, it's clear that he's seeking an emotional connection that she has no interest in whatsoever.
So although it's initially quite fun to see the usual gender roles get reversed, with the woman uninterested in anything but her sex partner's body; it was also quite poignant (and telling) to see that a man who has been granted the ultimate fantasy of casual sex with an attractive woman still feels the need to establish some sort of deeper rapport with her, finding it demeaning when he's immediately dismissed once Elise is done with him.
The first time Gael was bemused at Elise's immediate departure; this time you can see his disappointment when he's not even able to kiss her. Whether male or female, being used as a sex object really isn't much fun.
***
As big a jackass as Danny is, I couldn't help but enjoy him taunting TT over the phone when it becomes apparent that Benji was prevented from committing suicide and been taken into police custody. "Oh dear - I can't imagine that was part of the plan, was it."
Stephen returns, and not only do the police have his computer in their custody, but we've actually seen him brutally kill the Daario Naharis pimp. He would be our number one suspect for TT were it not for the fact that that would be a bit too easy.
Adam's reaction to Elise was pretty priceless; he immediately grabs a younger sibling and picks her up because – hey, girls like guys holding kids, right?
Angel Coulby: the queen who could immediately ferret out traitors and a wife who instantly knows when her husband has cheated on her.
Ack, I'm afraid I didn't follow any of the subplot involving the new characters. From what I gather, TT has just kidnapped a police officer that killed a drug-dealing teenager? Was that was all that was about? I suppose things will become clearer next week, but of all the subplots that are incorporated every week, this one wasn't meshed in as well.
So, that was episode five, the exact centre of the miniseries, which mostly felt like a transitional episode that attempted to bring the two halves of the show together – hopefully from here on out things will really get cracking.

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