‘Babylon’ Season 1 Episode 5 review

After a rocky couple of episodes, it really feels like Babylon is back to full strength this week, with a barnstorming episode that finally brings lagging storylines up to a point of interest.

One wonders whether the show would have worked better with a lower episode count, but regardless of such wonderings, it’s certainly nice to have an episode that firing on all cylinders again.

The inter-office power-play is certainly heating up, with Nicola Walker’s Assistant Commissioner Sharon Franklin finally stepping out from the background and taking a firm lead role in the ongoing story arc over Commissioner Job spot. It’s great to see such an underrated actress take the spotlight, and Franklin is a character worth rooting for, a rare thing in a show like Babylon, where everyone is as flawed as the next. Though we do wonder when it will inevitably go tits up for Franklin, especially now she’s an unwitting pawn in the war between Finn and Liz.

After last week’s triumphant bounce back, it seems that Liz may well be feeling the strain. If anything, her manipulation of the missing child search to further her own political needs almost feels as though she is sacrificing her soul, her morals and her transparency, all to save her own skin. It’s a great performance from Brit Marling, especially in the final scenes, and an interesting development for the character that will hopefully be explored in the finale.

The real highlight of the episode is the investigation into the shooting last week, with particular emphasis on Warwick and Robbie, both of whom benefit greatly from the sudden pace in their respective arc plots.

Babylon

Nick Blood lets rip with great intensity as Warwick is betrayed by the most unlikely of people, whilst Adam Deacon gives an emotional and engaging performance as he comes clean to Matt. Even the Clarkey/Davina/Banjo triangle develops into something interesting this week, ending on a hell of a cliffhanger as Banjo finally puts two and two together.

The episode is full to the brim with the black humour we’ve come to know and love in Babylon, with the opening paintball ‘massacre’ being a particular highlight, no doubt thanks to the excellent soundtrack choice and the direction from Sally El Hosaini, who finally gets some meaty material to work with this week.

Writer Jon Brown proves once again to be a perfect fit for the show, delivering an excellent episode that juggles the intensifying political power-grabbing, dark comedy and emotional moments perfectly.

With some of the best performances from the entire run thus far, and with some major story developments at last, everything looks set for a great finale next week.

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Aired at 10pm on Thursday 11 December 2014 on Channel 4.

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