The second part of this face-skinning story begins at quite a pelt, as our witness link from the previous episode is made within the first few minutes. After her input, Buchan’s disgust is palpable at a link to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, drawing on a work of lurid fiction rather than his treasured archive of fact.
The camaraderie between Chandler and Miles, bought last time at the expense of a minor bust up, has developed into some comedy. It is welcome light relief too, as the next attack comes swiftly and is constructed to scare the pants off any viewer with an impending dental appointment.
We enjoyed the scenes of deepening honestly between the two as Chandler responded with honesty to the direct questioning of his OCD and its trigger. Miles vocalises what we witness each week; it is because of their flaws that these characters and the show have such appeal amid the death and depravity.
One surprise was Miles’ suggestion that they might contact a psychic, a path that Chandler almost takes despite his misgivings. Given his increasingly fragile state of mind, and the revelation that he of all people would consider such a thing, we can but wonder if there is a skeleton in Miles closet too?
The set-up for Buchan’s “liaison dangereuse” was spot-on with Steve Pemberton on effervescent form. His crushed look spoke volumes and it is clear that Mansell is now friendless in the incident room. The counterpoint of the kettle was a neat audible clue to Emmerson’s feelings, which we anticipate will boil over magnificently in the finale.
As the episode drew to a close, it was impressive to see all the pieces still in play with Buchan’s books of skin, the Goth lad whose mother had been killed and Mansell’s evidence pertaining to the second victim who also escaped justice. It is a testament to the quality of the writing that we were still none the wiser and yet, in retrospect, had seen all the pieces laid out. The reveal of the bookshop owner Diggory, and his subsequent suicide when evading capture, of course leaves Chandler’s undesired record depressingly intact.
As we head towards the final story, we look forward to a resolution of the footsteps mystery (along with the plumbing and lighting) and particularly the identity of the mysterious old woman Louise Iver (Angela Pleasance). She has popped up in both stories and surely has a larger part to play as Series 4 draws to close.
Aired at 9pm on Wednesday 25 September 2013 on ITV.
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