‘We’ve found our man,’ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle announces midway through the final episode of ITV’s three-part drama Arthur and George.
When the main character says something like this with an impenetrable air of confidence whilst there are still twenty five minutes of a finale left, you know there’s a plot twist yet to come.
And Arthur and George does not disappoint. This episode is fast-paced and full of plot, following the mystery of The Great Wyrley Outrages with an intense focus which makes this last episode possibly the most compelling of the three – which is fantastic, as it’s always frustrating when a finale can’t quite manage to wrap everything up sufficiently.
Thankfully, this isn’t the case here. In true crime drama style, there are a couple of red herrings tossed our way; Woody (as ever brilliantly portrayed by Charles Edwards) remains dubious over George’s innocence throughout, and Sir Arthur becomes convinced that local boy Royden Sharp is surely the real perpetrator. (The other characters repeatedly refer to Royden as ‘strange’, which of course means without a shadow of a doubt that he is the one who has been hacking up livestock in his spare time. Definitely.)
But the juiciest plot twist comes when the likeable and (apparently) helpful Harry turns on Sir Arthur’s gang and is outed as the true villain. ‘Wouldn’t it be something to outwit the man who invented Sherlock Holmes?’ Harry sneers, as confessions of old resentments and simmering rages festered over years come to an explosive boiling point.
It’s very well acted – the main cast have already been praised in previous reviews, but it’s only fair to mention Ciaran Owens here too, as he is excellent as friend-turned-foe Harry.
From the first episode, Arthur and George showed an impressive talent for unnerving the audience by emphasising that ‘something is going to jump out’ feeling, and this episode has plenty of that – there is enough suspense to possibly require a cushion to hide behind. The various threads of plot are neatly wrapped up, including George’s future as a solicitor and the question of Arthur’s relationship with Jean Leckie.
All in all, this is a finale which really delivers on the potential of the previous episodes – and it does so with a flourish. Well done, ITV.
Aired at 9pm on Monday 16 March 2015 on ITV.
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