An unnervingly shocking final episode, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton truly have the last laugh, as their second series comes to a close.
This week, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton’s dark anthology series Inside No 9, embarked on it’s sixth and final outing for it’s critically acclaimed second series. And within this episode, came all the hallmarks that the duo’s creations have become renowned for; a wicked sense of humour, a knowing nod to all things horrific and a series of utterly unnerving plot twists.
Not dissimilar to last series’ finale ‘The Harrowing‘, Shearsmith and Pemberton decided to take the exceptionally creepy route on this final episode. Entitled ‘Seance Time‘ the episode is set in a dim and creaky Victorian Villa. Unlike ‘The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge’ however, this is not a period piece. It instead takes place in modern times and follows a timid young girl called Tina (Sophie McShera) as she consults the spirit world for the first time. Her guide to the whispers of the undead, Madam Talbot (Alison Steadman), is as unnerving as they come, complete with a rasping voice and still, clouded eyes. Meanwhile, Talbot’s assistant, Hives (Shearsmith), though helpful at first, is also eerily peculiar.
Throughout this series I have maintained that to fully appreciate the show for all it’s worth (surprises and all), spoilers must be avoided at all costs. And for this episode, it could not be more true. As we have come to suspect from the writings of Shearsmith and Pemberton things are not always as they appear and darker ultimately more sinister happenings are almost always afoot.
The episode is undeniably creepy in it’s aesthetic, taking on a setting not unlike those seen in contemporary fright films like The Woman In Black and The Conjuring: Children’s toys sit menacingly in the shadows, as lights flicker and windows rattle. It is an episode wrapped lusciously in the macabre gothicism that Shearsmith and Pemberton so gleefully revel in, and this works to great effect, especially as tensions start to arise and secrets unfold.
The cast is exemplary in this episode, McShera evokes exceptional innocence as Tina, while Shearsmith unveils an increasingly complex character to his portrayal of Hives. Steadman is also incredibly effective as the domineering Madam Talbot, whose character becomes surprisingly funny as the episode goes on. Also among the supporting cast are Pemberton (who provides something of a laugh out loud moment halfway in), Alice Lowe, Dan Starkey and Cariad Lloyd.
Overall, this is a brilliant, if chilling final episode to what has been an immensely enjoyable and engaging second series from Shearsmith and Pemberton. The duo have exceeded themselves in their capacity to shock, frighten and amuse. Here’s hoping that we’ll be invited to step into yet more of their No. 9’s in the future…
Inside No. 9, Series 2 is available to buy on DVD from 4th May.