‘Apple Tree Yard’ review: Episode 4 is a belting end to BBC One’s thriller

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“Courts aren’t about the truth. They’re about who tells the best story.”

The sex in public, the family politics and the vagaries of the legal system have pushed us to this conclusion where the fate of Yvonne Carmichael is in the hands of twelve strangers in the jury rather than the one stranger who led her here.

The court proceedings are wonderfully done and charge forward purposefully with brisk powerful punches of all the information we need. At no stage does it drag or feel like ‘Broadchurch Season 2 Syndrome’ (now a recognised television disease).

The more he sits silently in court, the more Mark Costley’s aura of mystique is taken away from him. The flesh of his lies reduced to mere bone. We learn more about his past – the time he was inappropriate with a former work colleague and his previous conviction. There are even two conflicting accounts on whether he has a personality disorder.

One doubting Thomas declaring “his pursuit of extramarital sex and a tendency to embroider the facts do not mean he’s mentally unwell. Otherwise half the men in the country would be seeking treatment” Touche! However, a Doctor claims he does suffer from one and Likens his behaviour to acting like a movie star in his own movie. 007 has truly lost his shine.

The knife twists further as Yvonne takes to the stand and has to relive the assault and the the day of the murder. If that wasn’t tormenting enough the big reveal is to follow, the big reveal to Gary at least, when the question “Are you familiar, Doctor Carmichael, with the small alley way called Apple Tree yard?” comes crashing in like a wrecking ball. And no, Miley Cyrus wasn’t called as a witness.

As if emotions haven’t been shredded enough there’s one last twirl of the dramatic blender as the twist kicks in. We get a flashback, yes that devious old trick, but this one is worth it. As they lay together in romantic clinches she jokingly says “I want you to kill him” and perhaps with more serious intent “I want you to smash his face in”. Costley proudly declaring he never told anyone this information is a bit like a cat bringing home a dead mouse wanting some applause. Her steady response of “People can say anything. You really can’t tell the difference can you?” may mask an agenda we’ve never seen before.

It’s a belting end to a show that’s been all about the issues of trust and people living false narratives. As for Costley, on the plus side he now has a confined space all to himself where he can create many filthy stories with that vivid imagination.

Blind alleys

Full marks for the healthy discussion of mental health issues. Very refreshing to hear.

It’s up for debate if Yvonne knew what she was doing when asking Mark to kill. Was she much less innocent than we thought? Did she know Mark was a bit of a fantasist who would take it literally? Or were they really just throwaway comments?

The look to camera at the end suggests it wasn’t the latter.

He could be out in five years on good behaviour. Which alley would the sequel be set? Answers on a postcard.

We’re all Googling for places with rude names now, aren’t we?

Aired at 9pm on Monday 6 February 2017 on BBC One.

Order Apple Tree Yard on DVD on Amazon here.

What did you think of the final episode? Let us know below…

Read Michael Lee’s blog here.