The second part of BBC One’s new drama Doctor Foster continued this week, upping the emotional state of all the characters as Gemma tries to come to terms with the revelation of her husband’s adultery.
Suranne Jones continues to be excellent as the titular GP, displaying a beautiful yet broken performance as the emotionally fragile Gemma. Her conviction to the role is brilliant, which helps in its slightly unbelievable moments, but assures the sympathy of the viewer with a poignant and immensely watchable performance.
“I thought it would be better if he told you himself. He promised that he would.”
Despite effectively being the step by step breakdown of a marriage, the beauty of Doctor Foster is how it dissects all those parts of the break down that other similar stories may miss, yet plays with our emotions as a result. Given that Ros (Thusitha Jayasundera) knew of the affair, it’s a surprise turn when she becomes Gemma’s biggest ally.
“Go back to the party…don’t tell him that there’s anything wrong. I want him to come in and see those suitcases and understand, in that second, exactly what he’s lost.”
The confrontation scene as Simon (Bertie Carvel) returns home is an anticipated moment. Yet, it is underplayed by him being so drunk he doesn’t even notice his suitcases. It’s an insulting moment for Gemma, who by this point is a veritable cauldron of rage and will no doubt pave the way for something underhand at a later point.
The show does continue to have its niggles, however. The score can be a bit overpowering and the slow motion and soft focus camera work creates an unnecessary theatricality to proceedings. The ‘broken’ metaphor with the wing mirror was incredibly unsubtle, rather than symbolic. This is raw human drama and doesn’t really need the trying-too-hard technical assistance to make it shine.
Once again, we have to question how good a doctor Gemma is as well, after forcing a patient with a brain tumour to tell his wife, by dialing his phone when he nips to the loo and explaining his diagnosis. Also, would her associate really be ethically allowed to phone a pregnant patient’s lover (who just happens to be Gemma’s husband) to tell him she is about to abort a baby he should never have known about?
The further revelation of Kate’s pregnancy and the fact that the relationship has been going on for two years already add to the drama. What weakens it somewhat is the fact that almost everybody in the village seems to be aware of the affair. Hell, even Gemma’s son Tom infers about parental divorce and comments that his Dad is “always on his phone”. The signs were always there, it seems.
“You’re having an affair, aren’t you? I’m convinced of it.”
Giving Simon the chance to effectively confess with no real consequence and for him still to plead innocence takes things further into revenge territory, especially with the teaser for next week implying an extra marital affair on Gemma’s part.
Doctor Foster is a great piece of drama, but its ludicrous moments devalue it somewhat and undermine what is a beautiful performance by Suranne Jones.
Aired at 9pm on Wednesday 16 September 2015 on BBC One.
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