So can we all safely agree that this was Angel Coulby’s episode? Whenever she’s given the chance to unleash, she always delivers, whether it’s finally becoming Queen, or singing jazz in front of an audience, or this – coping with a life-or-death situation.
And this episode very much centred on her character: the danger Laura was in, the way she dealt with it, and the effect it had on other characters. With only one episode left to go, all cards are on the table: TT is Kieran Ashton, who has a vendetta against Karl Roebuck as well as life in general, going after his wife and children in revenge for his part to play in the termination of Operation Riga (details of which are still sketchy) and for having an affair with his wife Zara (you just couldn’t keep it in your pants, could you Karl).
So Laura and her daughters are lured out on a daytrip, culminating in her stepping on a pressure-release explosive in an abandoned (specially built?) house. If she moves, it blows up. Angel really was amazing in this scene, the way she went from bemusement to horror, but just maintaining enough self-control to stay where she was and direct her daughters to some degree of safety. By the end she’s exhausted and terrified, but still has enough presence of mind to tell Karl he has to leave her. If she doesn’t get out in time, their children need at least one of them to survive.
The whole thing is probably one of the top three sequences of the entire show, up there with the busload of kids getting kidnapping and the initial bomb-scare in Danny’s car. From the initial phone-call, in which Ashton checks off the points in the conversation he's meticulously written down, to the gradual led-up in which he lets his guard down a couple of times, to Laura’s frantic run from the house – I was doing the whole nail-biting, hand-flapping, watching-from-between-my-fingers routine.
This was a very Elise-lite episode, but because of the focus on Laura it was naturally Karl who was spot-lit. It was a long time coming, but finally his past misdeeds catch up with him, and Dillane did a great job of dawning realization: from learning that Zara was planning to leave Ashton for him, to the ball dropping on the sheer amount of danger that his family was in.
But he’s still a bit of a coward, isn’t he, in asking Elise to keep his involvement with Zara Ashton a secret from the others, even though it has a direct bearing on the investigation. You get the sense that this time around his desire to keep things hush-hush is born out of shame, particularly so close on the heels of his affair with Charlotte, and you could see the mounting despair and desperation on Dillane’s face as he realized what was going on. His goodbye to Laura was probably the high-point of the episode.
It soon becomes clear that the entire thing was simply a distraction for what TT was really after: Adam. After “seducing” Karl’s wife (in spirit, if not body), Ashton now targets his son in retribution for his own son’s death. Having finished his five truths, I was left wondering where the story would go from here: I’d say personal vendetta is a pretty clever twist.
But there were a couple of things that bugged. For instance, why didn’t Laura tell the girls to leave the house and get help? Unless I missed something, they didn’t establish that Ashton locked the door behind him. And how stupid is Adam leaving police protection in order to go off on his own to a deserted car park without even considering the fact that Becky might not be who she says she is? Or that TT was still on the loose? Or without telling anyone where he’d gone? And I would have liked if it Laura had taken her high-heels off before attempting her dash to the front door, since I was terrified that they would slow her down on the way out.
But everything else was pitch-perfect. I was holding my breath as Karl and Elise raided TT’s house (intercut with scenes of him interacting with Laura and the kids at the zoo), and in certain scenes that hinted Ashton might actually be enjoying his day out with Laura and the girls.
Though she was low-key, Elise had a couple of nice moments, first in keeping quiet about finding a dossier of Laura (presumably because she figured it would make Karl freak out at a very inopportune moment), but then in patting his arm and agreeing to look after Adam while Karl went after Laura. I was a little disappointed that she wasn’t around for the explosion, but I guess on a Doylist level it means that she’ll get her chance to shine next week when she goes after Adam.
I hope they manage to bring TT to justice, though I get the sneaking suspicion that he’ll commit suicide by the time the final credits roll (or maybe I’ve just watched too many episodes of Whitechapel). If anything though, all this will probably restore the Roebucks’ marriage – I think if anything will stop a husband from straying, it’s his accidental involvement in your near-death experience.