Friday, 27 January 2017

Reviewing: White Heat, Episodes 4 - 5

Following my review of Episode 3, which you can find here:

I'm covering two episodes together this time. Partly this is because it's been a while so anyone that has been following the series upon my recommendation will probably have gone ahead and watched on, sans review for episode 4, as it does get you hooked. It is also due to that as the years roll on and the characters go through their intended (or sometimes not intended) paths, they are now clearly well into the story so that episodes serve more as guides, to cap viewing time as well as to separate big clearer themes rather than for us to stop and ponder after each one. When characters are built well, they will do that, follow their own hearts regardless of where one scene ends and the other starts. However episodes four and five can still be clearly separated by the outcome of the scenes that they are made up of. So I will still be covering each one in its own right. I hate to give away spoilers so I try to minimise them as much as I can so I hope you will bear with me if in some cases my details are a little obscure.

Episode 4 - The Personal Is Political

As time rolls on, the seven friends (if they so can be called) are brought together more by events than lifestyle, as they all seem to have taken their own paths in life. It is 1979 and a reformed Jack is about to join the political scene whilst Victor keeps making passes at Charlotte whilst despising Jack's guts. There seems to be a hatred in Victor towards Jack that is quite deep-seethed at this point and Jack's next faux pas in this episode will ensure that their relationship will remain strained forever. I do believe, after seeing Episode 5 as well, that it is all Victor's fault that later on Charlotte will keep such a big secret from him that is to do with Jack. Meanwhile, as the love-triangle continues for the red-head, the rebel and the immigrant, Alan and Lilly tie the knot, though it remains ever unclear in the present day scenes whether they are in fact still together or not. Hindu Jay is having to face demons just like the rest of them, with religion in his case being the main perpetrator. Which leaves jolly round Orla in the tricky position of always trying to do the best for everyone and getting mixed up in it. Over and over she is the one who does the mothering and rounds up the gang as well as giving her help and advise. In this episode she even goes further and gives a homeless man shelter in Jack's house, which causes him concern because he is now a public scrutinised figure.

The last fifteen minutes build up on the Charlotte and Jack relationship, strained though it is, and it seems like the end to this episode is what ultimately splits them irrevocably apart. Ever a stickler for what is right, Charlotte tells Jack "you hesitated" when he shows up to clear Victor's name from a mixup that involved him. An episode guide suggests that it was Jack's idea to send Victor out for the cake in order to get him away from Charlotte and the dance floor. My own notes as I examined this outcome actually put Jack in a worse light. What if, rather than just get him away from his ex and the dancefloor, what he wanted was to get him framed?


Episode 5 - The Eye of the Needle

A very apt title for the very difficult task that all the original roommates must face in this episode. In 1982, whilst Jay and Orla are the only two remaining tenants of Jack's, they are still in touch with the rest, though sparingly so. They are, as always, the two that seem to be outcast and have between them set up a routine that allows them to live on, in their own ways and with their own beliefs, as Jack spirals out of control on account of losing his chance at politics due to the incident from Episode 4. Who else to call on when times get tough but an ex-girlfriend and her now partner or husband to help with Jack's addiction which is by now totally out of control? Sounds ominous, and it is. Add a couple who are having problems in the mix, in the form of Alan and Lilly, and the household is complete once again. Only, they have a new houseguest in the form of Charlotte's now totally crazy mother, for whom Charlotte has responsibility.

I always tend to believe that a villain is the product of his history and try to understand rather than condemn him/her. So it came as no surprise to find that this episode reveals much about Jack's childhood and relationship with his father, the father who turned out to be a supporter even when Jack tried for a seat in parliament on the opposing benches. Jack's parents are together still, so why does the mother never show up, most especially when her son needs help? Could boarding school have harmed Jack? This is a topic that is touched on in many a story yet it remains unclear to me whether it did affect Jack as badly as his father thinks. What affects him for sure are all the somewhat cruel reminders from his past, which seem to flash in front of Jack's eyes as he battles his demons whilst going through a detox. This seems to me to be the pivotal scene for his character, as well as the one that will define Charlotte's future. As always for the female characters in this plot, Charlotte's fate is determined by circumstances. Jack's downfall, her part in his detox as well as her mother's condition together with her father's lack of interest in helping out at all push in from all sides, moulding her future so that she has no way out.

There is much to talk about regarding the episode and my review could very well turn into an appreciation of the kind required for an exam in English Literature rather than a heady BBC series. So whilst I'll try to cap my enthusiasm and curb the want to explore this from a writer's point of view, I'll skim quickly over the observations.

As evident from my previous posts, I am not such a big fan of Victor, despite that he is made over and over to look like the good guy and "the injured party", as he himself says in a previous episode clip from 'Present Day'. The truth, however, as it seems to me, is that his spite towards Jack went beyond their differences and was more of an instinct. From the beginning, Jack got the girl, and he might well do so again in Victor's eyes it seems. Is he right or is he wrong? Even Charlotte knows that it is dangerous to broach any subject to do with her ex-partner when in Victor's presence. Call me biased but I noted that Charlotte's apparent 'life-partner' is quick to want to send Jack to rehab unlike the rest of the team. He remains seated when Jack loses consciousness too, a pretty low figurative punch towards his arch enemy in my opinion. And when all's said and done, exemplary man or no, Victor loses his cool just like anyone else would when given bad news (ok I must admit: truly cruel news). So no wonder Charlotte feels unable to be totally truthful about her predicament at the end of this episode. Meanwhile things start falling into place, with Lilly's past and Jack's involvment in it clearly linked to the present day hostility on Charlotte's side. Such close friends up to the events of Episode 5, the two girls share a secret (or twin secrets) that has them at opposing ends in a dilemma. But that's all I'm going to share.

I leave you to watch these two episodes if you haven't already, and to comment on here if you have. Meanwhile, keep tuned for the last part of this series of reviews, coming up in February.

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