Though low on laughs, this latest no. 9 from the minds of Shearsmith and Pemberton is truly haunting in it's exploration of one woman's life.
Following last week’s cracking series opener, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton welcomed us inside another one of their enigmatic no. 9’s. Though this time the duo truly meant to keep us on our toes with a tale of life and love that comes with a hauntingly bitter twist.
The episode – entitled ‘The 12 days of Christine‘ – follows the story of Christine (Sheridan Smith), an ordinary woman, who one excitable New Years Eve, meets a man called Adam (Tom Riley). From there on in, we follow Christine sequentially, in the space of one day from the next 12 years of her life, as her love with Adam begins to evolve, dissolve and eventually unravel completely.
As I alluded to in the last episode’s review, Shearsmith and Pemberton’s work does not take well to explicit spoilers, particularly in this show – where nothing is as it seems, and absolutely everything is subject to the unexpected. And, if there is any one episode so far, that could especially be ruined by a sneaky peek on the internet, it’s this one. The writing duo masterfully play with the premonitions of their audience during the entire half-hour run of this story; what seems for certain one moment, is very quickly dissolved in the next.
The central performances by Smith and Riley are incredibly well played and very finely tuned to the vision of the writers. Smith is especially good, as she plays the vulnerability and confusion of her character throughout the years to aplomb. Shearsmith and Pemberton only have small supporting roles in this episode, with Pemberton playing Christine’s gay best friend and Shearsmith playing a mysterious character that keeps curiously reappearing in amongst the milestones of Christine’s life.
The ending of the episode is, as previously mentioned, best watched without previous insight. But it has to be said that it’s one of the most haunting and bittersweet moments that television has produced in years. Though on the whole, the episode is low on laughs – and nowhere near as comical as last week – the sheer emotional impact put into this small segment on the TV schedule is just astounding, and goes to show that Shearsmith and Pemberton are just as talented producing moments of real, hard-hitting drama as they are with laugh out loud comedy.
Next week’s episode seems to forecast a return to the dark and quirky kind of humour that Shearsmith and Pemberton are renowned for, but even if this was a one-off kind of twist on their inimitable style, the duo must be commended for their stellar efforts at creating an utterly enthralling and different type of story.
Inside No. 9 is broadcast on BBC Two and BBC Two HD on Thursdays at 10pm.