This episode was brutal. I needed a bit of time to recover after watching it.
Plotwise, the episode spread itself out over several strands: the ongoing investigation, Elise/Karl's lives at home, the plotting of the terrorists and a return of the narrative device perfected in the last series: introducing a new character who initially seems completely irrelevant to the overarching story before getting drawn into the bigger picture.
Their presence serves to humanize the tragedy and give us someone to follow through whatever crisis befalls them, but in this case it also continues the recent television glut of dead women and minorities. It even managed a two-for-one!
Okay, I accept that watching a suspense/crime/drama involves violent murders, but in the context of what's been going on in nearly every other television show I'm currently watching, it's very wearying. Not to mention predictable. The second Aamira walked out her front door I knew she had a ticking clock over her head.
Having listened to the black box recording of the downed plane, Elise has been introduced to the theory that it was hacked. Unfortunately (or not, depending on how you look at it) the only known person with that kind of expertise is Robert Fournier – the man that's been kidnapped. It can't be a coincidence.
The plot thickens when Chloe finally starts talking and repeats pertinent words that were said while her parents were dragged from the car: "I told you, not the kid," a line that puts a whole new spin on what could have happened. Add that to the fact the burned out van yielded only the blood of a woman, and evidence is mounting up that Robert Fournier is not only alive, but the man giving the orders in the terrorist attacks.
They also realize that secretary Eryka Klein was not on the plane with her boss, having backed out at the last minute after she couldn't find her passport. Perhaps she knew the plane would crash, or perhaps she's just a red herring (there were plenty of those last season – remember all the time we spent on Joseph Mawle's character?) It all depends on who the intended target of the plane crash was: it could have been Paul Bresson (implicating the secretary) or it could have been the guy involved in the bride trafficking (drawing in Emilia Fox's character).
One is bound to be a false lead and my money's on the second one. That said, I think there's a chance Eryka losing her passport was a coincidence.
The imprint of a "Kernow" sticker on the destroyed van leads Karl to a rental/delivery service, and soon they have a police sketch of Rosa Persaud, the woman currently working alongside Robert Fournier in his as-yet unclear attacks (though apparently it's at least got something to do with organized religion).
It's a weird collection of people that's involved: a French racist and a black Englishwoman; motives unknown. Is it really just their religious hate that leads them to target a conference on tolerance and understanding?
Which brings us to Aamira, our Victim of the Week – and I really can't decide whether her character was handled well, or too manipulatively. Like I said, I knew the moment she appeared that she was doomed, but I also want to give the show credit for not making her a placid, totally innocent victim. As a Muslim girl wearing a hijab she's a natural target for heckling in the street, but she responds to her classmates with confidence and is able to diffuse tension with a joke.
But she's clearly sick to death of having to constantly defend her choices and religion, and by the time she's butting heads with a Christian girl and a Jewish boy at the conference, she's quite abrasive. It leads to the first of two cruel Hope Spots when she nearly leaves, only to be talked into staying by the aforementioned Christian/Jewish characters.
As such, she's a target for the gunman who turns up at the end of the episode, who spares the other kids but deliberately goes after the adults and Aamira, saying "last but not least" before he shoots her.
Maybe it was the predictable way it unfolded, maybe it's just the overload of dead women on television at the moment, but Aamira's death felt a bit too blatant: an obvious setup leading to a tragic outcome.
It can be easily contrasted to the episode's other examples of racial/nationalist commentary: first when it came to Karl's hesitancy in hiring a Slovakian nanny over a British one, and secondly the look on his face when the owner of the courier service immediately supposes he wants to talk to her black employer after he identifies himself as police.
Both scenes were done with a bit more subtlety than the obvious irony and cruelty that went into staging Amira's demise. I mean really, she was going to leave, the others convince her to stay, and then she's shot dead while they're spared.
That said, it didn't stop me from tearing up, so it obviously worked on some level.
On a more personal note, Karl and Laura's youngest son has reappeared (this little boy went missing in the last few episodes of the first season, so it's good to see he wasn't entirely forgotten) and Laura is ready to get back to work, causing even more friction between the not-very-happy couple.
But Elise has gotten back together with the cute waiter from last season! And aw, he's gotten her a keyring of tiny Tabasco sauce.
Yet the most important relationship of the show continues to be Karl/Elise. It was fun to see last week that Elise can tell when Karl is joking with her, but here Karl can immediately tell when Elise is lying (though in her case, most people can considering she's terrible at it).
Their dynamic is also nicely compared/contrasted in the interview with Eryka: Karl assumes she and her boss were lovers since only one of them was carrying the passports (an intimate document) whilst Elise reaches the same conclusion more bluntly because the man had condoms in his bag.
Robert Fournier is a nasty piece of work on two levels: first shooting his wife to deliberately demonstrate the mercilessness he wants his followers to display, but also demanding they leave behind Chloe, presumably to spare her life. Obviously the act of leaving her behind isn't bad, and might be an example of Even Evil Has Standards, but then he sends out one of his men to shoot up a bunch of teenagers – making him a hypocrite for not harming children himself.
Who on earth put Elise in charge of questioning Chloe?? It was deliberately shot with Elise towering above the little girl, almost to the point where the scene seemed to be played for laughs.
Emilia Fox continues to look glamourous and sleazy at the same time, though I get the feeling her subplot is going to be somewhat irrelevant in the big picture – the same way the refugees were in the last series. I hope I'm wrong.