‘Indian Summers’ Episode 4 review

‘I wrote you a letter,’ Eugene Mathers tells Ralph, who has many other things on his mind at the moment, and demands simply to be told what is written on the piece of paper.

This, loosely, is the connective tissue of the fourth episode of Indian Summers: Very Important Things Written On Bits Of Paper.

Sarah (Fiona Glascott) finally gets the confirmation on Alice  that she suspected anyway – that the latter is not a widow after all, and that the absent father is alive and well. Nobody seems interested yet in the possibility that he might turn up one day in search of his wife and child.

Sarah wonders aloud: wouldn’t it be a pity if such a scandalous secret was to – somehow – come out? Particularly with Alice’s brother being lined up to become Viceroy at some point? Alice isn’t a fool.

‘What do you want?’ she asks Sarah, coldly. Sarah, in return, is all sweetness and light. ‘To help, silly,’ she answers. Alice isn’t convinced, and you can’t blame her.

Alice (Jemima West) Indian Summers

Meanwhile, Eugene finally sick of having to knock at every door in the house just in case he walks into Ralph boffing his sister, demands that he makes a honest woman of her, something that neither of them seem particularly interested in. He warns Madeline (Olivia Grant) that Ralph is just using her for sex, and is somewhat dismayed by her answer: perhaps she likes it.

In his opinion, that’s not good enough (her answer, not the sex; thankfully he doesn’t take the time to ask about that). He books the next ticket back home, but his sister chooses to stay, much to his bridling frustration. Ralph (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), apparently presented with a rapidly decreasing amount of choices the closer he gets to true power, may end up asking Madeline the big question anyway.

Ralph (Henry Lloyd Hughes) Indian Summers

The most important piece of paper, however, is in Aarfrin’s (Nikesh Patel) possession, and again he’s a man that gets more restricted the closer he gets to power. Last week, he filched an important piece of evidence about the shooting and hid it under the bed. Now, he gets invited to dinner with the suddenly visiting Viceroy (Patrick Malahide) while officials search his home.

In panic, he throws himself at the mercy of Alice, and presents her with yet another Important Bit Of Paper – an instruction to destroy the evidence. In the end, Aarfin escapes censure, and clearly believes that he can thank Alice, but it seems that not everything is as clear cut. There’s a fair chance that Ralph knows what’s going on, and is keeping his mouth shut as he plays the long game.

More important, there is now another piece of paper – the instruction to destroy – that could ultimately end up implicating a lot more people.

Cynthia (Julie Walters) Indian Summers

And behind it all, Cynthia (Julie Walters) continues to pull the strings. When Ian’s uncle dies, she’s quick to put it down to murder, despite the truth quite patently being very far from that. Ian (Alexander Cobb) is too overcome with grief to put up much resistance. We don’t get to see Cynthia Coffin play host that much these days: her face hard set, it’s clear that she wants to keep her little garden in India exactly how she thinks it should be: for the British.

The writing, sending, delivery, and destroying of letters this week is only so many MacGuffins. Secrets are bursting open, and very soon, the writing will be on the wall.

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Aired at 9pm on Sunday 8 March 2015 on Channel 4.

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