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Friday, April 15, 2016

The Tunnel: S02E01

It's back!
I love a good political thriller, and in 2013 The Tunnel neatly swiped the premise of the Swedish/Danish production Bron/Broen and its American/Mexican remake The Bridge to craft a French/English version. 
Police investigators from both countries were called to the Eurotunnel after a body was found right on the dividing line, and were subsequently forced to work together once it became apparent the body was in fact two bodies: the head and torso of a French politician, and the hips and legs of an English prostitute.
Though the collaboration of Elise Wasserman and Karl Roebuck led to the apprehension of the man known as the Truth Terrorist, a trail of dead bodies was left in his wake, including that of Karl's eldest son Adam.
By all accounts the drama closely followed the trajectory of the original Scandinavian show, but season two is staking out its own territory with a brand new storyline.
So how do they up the ante from the last series and keep the show's title relevant? First by staging a kidnapping in the Eurotunnel, in which a husband and wife are dragged from their car (leaving behind their traumatized daughter) and then by having an airplane crash in the English Channel, killing everyone aboard.

The episode opens with beach-goers finding bits and pieces from the plane washed up on the shore (passports, a rosary, a certificate of some kind) before shifting back in time two days earlier in order to introduce the owners of this paraphernalia and their reasons for being on board the plane. Naturally the kidnapping and the plane crash are connected, but the question of motive remains.
The events end up reuniting Elise and Karl, and it's a beautifully played moment. Regardless of her social ineptitude elsewhere (it's hinted she has some form of Asperger's) Elise not only recognizes when Karl is joking with her, but grasp that he's still deep in mourning for his son.

She's even perceptive enough to realize that things aren't harmonious at the Roebuck household. Karl and his wife Laura (Angel Coulby!) have newborn twins, but there's a definite chill between the couple – after all, Karl cheated on her last season – and he's taken to sleeping in Adam's bedroom. It's no surprise then that Karl is triggered by the sight of a man taking cell-phone pictures of the dead bodies found in the crash (particularly one that bears a slight resemblance to his dead son), and only Elise can talk him down from a reaction that might cost him his job.
Naturally they're going to team up in order to find the connection and solve the case, though so far their only lead is Chloe Fournier, the daughter of the kidnapped couple who is currently in shock and not saying a word.
But we the audience are privy to more information – a series of scenes that shed light on the aftermath of the kidnapping and lead-up to the crash, which together suggest there's a lot more going on than meets the eye.
It's a good start to a new series, though it continues the currently wearisome trend of female characters as murder victims (shot in the head, execution style) and rape victims (in a scene I can't yet see the point of). Not only that, but I hate flying, my niece is called Chloe, and my little sister once had a toy dog just like the one featured here.
Yes, it's all only to be expected in a crime drama/political thriller, but things hit a little too close to home this time around!
Miscellaneous Observations:
I could never quite pin down the official air date for this season, and it was only after GIF sets of Angel Coulby popped up on my Tumblr dash that I realized it was on at all – but after a little researching I found out Sky1 delayed the premiere in the wake of Brussels terrorist attack. It's not difficult to see why given the content of this episode.
The opening credits have been tweaked; this time around the interior of the Eurotunnel dissolves into the image of an aircraft.
There's a fine line between playing Elise's Asperger Syndrome as realistically frank as opposed to cutesy and clueless, but Clémence Poésy handles it well. Some of her comments make the people around her laugh, but the audience is never invited to laugh at her.
I'm glad there was some continuity present in regards to Adam, who I thought was short-changed at the end of season one (there being no sign of his biological mother, his funeral, or even his body, which made it difficult for the audience to really feel his death) but there's a glimpse of Tom's Midnight Garden in his room and frequent mentions of him throughout the episode.
However, there's no update on Kieran Aston and Karl only namedrops Peloton. Is that an indication it'll be picked up again, or that they're dropping it entirely?
There are some new faces and reshuffling here and there: Cécile Cabrillac and Chuks Akinade from the original investigation seem to have been replaced with Louise Renard and Boleslaw 'BB' Borowski – it's a shame to lose them, but we'll see how the newbies measure up.
And of course, Angel Coulby! She went missing for the entire duration of 2015 (not counting her voice work for Kayo in Thunderbirds Are Go) but now she's appearing in two television dramas airing concurrently. It's Christmas!
Her screen-time is limited in this episode, but we get some girl talk between her and Elise, and I was highly amused to realize that not only does this season guest-star Emilia Fox as a well-dressed businesswoman who still has an air of seediness about her, but also William Ash as the aforementioned Boleslaw Borowski. The former appeared with her on Merlin and the latter was her boyfriend in Conviction (which aired over ten years ago now!)
So what are the odds Angel won't get to interact with either of them?

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