STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, 1.5 – “Choose Your Pain” (Netflix Review)

Streaming on UK Netflix from: Monday 16th October 2017

Story by: Gretchen J. Berg, Aaron Harberts and Kemp Powers

Teleplay by: Kemp Powers

Directed by: Lee Rose


 

SURVIVAL MODE

“Glory must be earned from sacrifices… and PAIN!”

While the sets and lighting are as opulent and dazzling as ever this week, the showrunners behind Star Trek: Discovery are instead taking a different tack in their efforts to make this new prequel series darker and more mature by inserting scenes of brutal violence and random instances of foul language into what has fundamentally always been a family-friendly show set in an optimistic future striving for a universal utopia.

… Keep Scuttling!

THE HANDMAID’S TALE, 1.5 – “Faithful” (TV Review)

Channel 4 – 9pm – Sunday 25th June 2017

Teleplay by: Dorothy Fortenberry

Series created by: Bruce Miller – Based on the novel by: Margaret Atwood

Directed by: Mike Barker


 

FISH HOOK, OPEN EYE

“Every love story is a tragedy, if you wait long enough.”

Now 34 games of Scrabble into her clandestine encounters with her potentially-sterile Commander (Joseph Fiennes), handmaid Offred (Elisabeth Moss) is gifted an old-times fashion magazine. Long thought destroyed, the nostalgic memento awakens in her memories of her first encounters with her husband, Luke (O-T Fagbenle), at a street-side hot dog stand while best friend Moira (Samira Wiley) interrogates Luke about Offred/Kate’s Tinder profile.

… Keep Scuttling!

THE LIVING AND THE DEAD, 1.5 (TV Review)

BBC One – 26th July 2016 – 9pm

Written by: Peter McKenna

Series created by: Ashley Pharoah

Directed by: Sam Donovan 


 

CHAOS BEFORE CLARITY

Following last week’s leftfield cliffhanger, this penultimate episode in Ashley Pharaoh’s chilling period mini-series intensifies the “supernormal” activity, but does away with the story of the week template in favour of a more all-inclusive village-wide assembly of incidents.

It is All Hallows Eve in Shepzoy, and the farming community and out-of-town railway workers are uniting to mark the pagan tradition with typically folksy gusto. The date also marks the anniversary of the All Hallows Massacre, which centuries earlier saw the sword-slashing Roundheads ride on Shepzoy, hunting and gutting all in their way, “the ground sodden with blood…” Lovely.

It is gruesome visions of this historic bloodbath which this week manifest themselves to the fearful villagers, with the city-dwelling railway engineers driven out by the superstitious hauntings, after “townie” Smith (Harry Peacock) is terrified by the ghost of a hanging victim in the copse.

Maud Hare (1.3’s Elizabeth Berrington), meanwhile, is growing increasing concerned about living side-by-side with evil, as the mark of a noose grows more pronounced around her neck, and Nathan Appleby (Colin Morgan) is so consumed by his belief in the presence of his dead son and glimpses of a woman in a red coat carrying a book full of moving pictures, that he drags poor Harriet Denning (1.1’s Tallulah Haddon) back into the hot seat for another session of doctorly hypnosis.

“They’re coming for you, Nathan, they’re coming for you.”

Harriet’s father, village priest Father Denning (Nicholas Woodeson), is furious at Nathan’s ungodly meddling in the occult, until the whole village witnesses both a blazing tree which leaves no ash and a spirit army of Roundheads charging translucently through the forest. Reluctantly, he agrees to an exorcism, but Nathan is less than keen when his pregnant wife, Charlotte (Charlotte Spencer), reveals some startling evidence in the background of one of her photographs…

The hauntings intensify, the visions more frequent and the truth harder to ascertain in episode five of The Living And The Dead. A lot occurs in this busy hour of drama without the plot ever really progressing or the mystery becoming any clearer. Colin Morgan expertly portrays a spiral into insanity, while Peter McKenna’s screenplay is an effective exercise in tone and atmosphere. I suspect we are in for a spectacular finale next week, but if you aren’t binge-watching this as a boxset and catching it in weekly instalments then this is less satisfying as a standalone story, with no palpable beginning, middle or end.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 3 stars