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Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Tunnel: S02E06 + E07

If you've been wondering why I missed reviewing last week's episode of The Tunnel, it was because my usual torrent supplier temporarily vanished. We're back on track now, but I'll merge episode six and seven into one post.
The big reveal of these episodes are that Eryka is one of the masterminds behind this entire plot, working with Koba* towards some nefarious end. I suppose it's fitting in an ironic sort of way that in the same week we learn Delphine is still alive, we're also treated to an evil bisexual who deliberately seduces one of our protagonists to throw her off her game. The universe giveth, and the universe taketh away.
*Yes, it's Koba – not Cobra as originally thought. In my defence, the characters made that mistake too.

The reveal was foreshadowed with Eryka's reaction to Karl dropping Koba's name – she not only recognized it, but was clearly startled to hear it spoken aloud, so put me in the "disappointed but not surprised" category.
Not a great poker face.
Along with Eryka, we're also better introduced to the man known as Koba. He's the one who was overseeing Robert Fournier's actions, but who also insists that he step down as the police investigation heats up. Fournier doesn't like the sound of this and tries to make his escape, only to get T-boned and dragged away to a man called the Chemist.
Two very nasty injections later, and Fournier's body is dumped outside the police station in a wheelchair, riddled with some obscure disease. After such a careful build-up to his character and the threat he poses, I'm pretty sure this counts as Dropping a Bridge on Him.
Which also makes Koba an Anti-Climax Boss. I'm not sure it was a good idea to get rid of Fournier and replace him with another villain this late in the game, especially when said villain is Paul Schneider from Parks and Recreation, speaking with an extremely dodgy Eastern European accent.
Not exactly bone-chilling material.
I'll admit that some of the finer details of the overarching plot are lost on me. I'm not sure how or why, but Vanessa decides she wants to get out of her current situation and goes to Karl/Elise for help. They promise to get her to France, and succeed after what is (deliberately) the slowest car chase ever through the Channel Tunnel to the border crossing.
However, in a pretty neat sequence, it turns out that Koba's people snuck into her hotel room and replaced one of her cigarettes with a poisoned one. From that point on, the suspense is slowly racketed up as the audience waits for the proverbial bomb to go off, with a couple of near-misses along the way. I admit I laughed when Elise told Vanessa not to smoke in the car – she was delaying the inevitable without even realizing it.
But eventually, just when all seems well, Vanessa lights the fatal cigarette and chokes to death without giving up any important information. There was a great little musical cue in this scene to let the audience know that that was the cigarette which would kill her, and ultimately the whole thing gave me Merlin flashbacks. Morgana was nearly killed the very same way, only that time she had Emilia Fox's Morgause to save her.
In other plot advancements, Karl and Elise deduct that there was more than one target on the plane, which points to a greater conspiracy than either one initially reckoned. Karl all but confronts Inspector Mike Bowden on his suspicions of a cover-up, and Bowen surprisingly comes through by leaving him a note and package on his doorstep: apparently the cops overlooked Vanessa's prostitution ring in order to be informed on possible jihadist movement over the borders (at least I think that's what was going on).
In any case, Koba's men come for Bowen, but Karl has already given them the slip with a little help from BB as their go-between – which was good, since his presence has been a bit superfluous thus far.
This just leaves the increasingly messed-up private lives of Karl and Elise, and their inability to not bring personal grievances to work.
All things considered, a part of me just wishes Karl and Laura would call it quits, since the relationship is so consistently strained, Laura clearly can't trust Karl, and it all culminates in dirt-slinging at each other in front of the poor hapless nanny. (Even if that last part was played for laughs).
There's an attempt by the couple to hash things out, though it's obvious they only stayed together in the wake of Karl's infidelity due to Adam's death and the birth of the twins. However, Laura eventually uncovers the truth behind Gemma's story: that she's not the mother of Karl's child at all, but another attempt by Kieran Ashton to hurt the family.
Apparently she met Kieran in prison and essentially became one of his groupies, obediently playing along with his mind games to further destroy Karl's life. I wish I could say it's an unlikely scenario, but foolish/vulnerable women being manipulated by "damaged" men who claim to be in need of saving is a narrative that permeates our entire culture.
In the face of the woman's nastiness/grief/helplessness, Laura does a far better job than I would have of keeping her cool and remaining stern but compassionate when she tells her to get help. It was a good scene for Angel in keeping Laura strong and dignified; it rendered her opponent completely pathetic by comparison, a fact very much apparent on the woman's face.
That said, she reconciles with Karl pretty quickly after that – and that's before the house is flooded with carbon monoxide and one of her daughters left unconscious. It's time to give Laura a break!
Which leaves Elise, whose reaction to Eryka being one of the terrorists is something I can't even imagine. It's clear that on some level she knows she's being compromised – otherwise she wouldn’t have been so over-the-top defensive when Karl confronts her about it.
There was plenty of poignancy to be found in the realization Elise doesn't celebrate her birthday (because of course, it's her sister's birthday too) and after Gael's best efforts to do something special for her, I can't blame him for deciding to end the relationship. Did they really have to bring him back just to kick him to the curb?
In the midst of all this domestic chaos, one thing sticks out: Karl calling up Elise for a simple chat. They're both so messed up, and their partnership has been very much put on the backburner this season, but they get each other in a way that others don't. Here's hoping Karl will be there for Elise when the Eryka situation inevitably blows up next week.

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