How good is that?
Might I suggest: very good?
This episode begins in much the same way as the previous series ended: with a murder, brains, and Blaine’s vaguely unsettling presence. But the stakes are higher, light, easy-going conversations are fraught with deep meanings and deeper tension, and Peyton is missing, and while there might be – and is – humour in abundance, it is somewhat over-shadowed by, well, everything else.
There has been a shift in tone from the first season to the second, but it is a shift that works. That, contextually, makes sense. That is, to put it simply, believable. These familiar characters now occupy a different world to the one in which the first episode of the first season was launched, and if that hadn’t been acknowledged, it wouldn’t have felt right. This is a necessary change in tone, and, furthermore, one that does not undermine the consistency of language, style or attitude of the show as a whole.
Nicely, cleverly, done.
Have I said that I liked it yet?
The episode settles quickly enough into a familiar structure, offering a murder that will soon become suspicious, the subsequent involvement of the kick-ass Detective team that is Clive and Liv, complete with interesting wardrobe choices and an apparent dedication to hard work, and an all-new personality to consume in the name of justice. It’s a tried-and-tested arrangement that works well, and with the addition of several overarching plot points brought into play during the previous season – such as that involving Liv’s brother, badly injured last season, and now in hospital – offers plenty of action alongside the expected acknowledgement of the ground yet to be covered.
With both long- and short-term plot points to sink one’s teeth into, the episode was, to stretch a metaphor I haven’t really applied, and that I’m not sure I really want to, a meaty one, with the apparent assertion of similar depth to follow in the future.
So to speak.
At the very least, the ante has been well and truly upped, with well-established, familiar characters furthering new plot points, generating new twists, and lending the action an additional tension. Now that the viewers know the world and its characters, there’s no need for any handholding – and there’s a refreshing certainty to what remains.
Liv is, as ever, a delight, under the influence of brains or otherwise, but Liv in the form of ‘grumpy old man’ is better still, and the scenes involving her and Clive are particularly entertaining, tapping into a brand of humour familiar from the first season. It was fun, cleverly put together, and wonderfully enacted.
I have a few reservations in regards to keeping Clive in the dark – that’s getting a little old – but I’m sure the show will resolve them soon enough.
There’s plenty to enjoy in this episode. It’s well constructed, tastefully and cleverly done, and, as ever, humorous. It also does a great job at hinting at what is to come without erasing any possibility of surprise, develops some groundwork for future plot points, and treats its characters well.