“Seriously? Police sponsorship? This kettling was brought to you by Morphy Richards?!” mutters Finn, in just one of the many brilliant one-liners spouted in this week’s Babylon, which continues to prove itself as a contender for the titles of the best and funniest cop show of the year.
It’s not surprising to find the script credited to Misfits writer and Mongrels co-creator Jon Brown, who delivers yet another witty and inventive episode of the show. Indeed, Brown also continues the trend begun by Jesse Armstrong last week by steering the show clear of cliché, instead finding new and creative ways to tell police procedural stories that, in any other show, may have felt tired and overdone.
Judging by last week’s Next Time trailer, it did feel that, after the impressive and thrilling riot storyline in the season opener, things were taking a slower pace this episode. So kudos to Brown and director Jon S. Baird, who between them manage to turn out another thrilling and hilarious instalment with a plotline that could have been slow and plodding in lesser hands, yet in theirs is handled in a way that is perhaps more exciting and intriguing then last week’s more high octane opener.
The deputy mayor scandal is a terrific story, handled well, and developing down avenues one wouldn’t have expected – it’s a great moral and political conundrum that perfectly sums up the central theme of the show – corruption and political manoeuvring in the face of public opinion. The continuing feuding and bitching between Liz and Finn is as tasty as ever, whilst James Nesbitt as Richard Miller continues to both terrify and enthral.
Miller telling Finn that “backstabbing is a wanker’s game” is hilarious, but Nesbitt also deliverers the lines with the right amount of threat and malice that sets a strong uneasy tone to the moment. Clearly Miller is not someone to trust, but he’s also impossible to dislike as well, especially when putting weasel-like Finn in his place.
Other key storylines are already moving at breakneck pace, particularly Warwick’s continuing downward spiral and the ongoing relationship between loudmouth Robbie and manipulative filmmaker Matt. Both Adam Deacon and Daniel Kaluuya are excellent as ever, with their strange and manipulative friendship developing in a way that is more than likely going to lead to an explosive climax, a scene which will be a thrill to watch these two actors perform in.
If anything, the only criticism here is the continued alluding to Davina and Clarkey’s affair, which isn’t quite ringing true as of yet (probably because we’ve barely seen any evidence of it, only the odd whisper here and there). Hopefully this’ll be rectified in the coming weeks, as it’s clearly being set up as a catalyst for something bigger later on.
Niggling aside, Babylon remains massively entertaining this week, straying into less action-orientated territory and yet still managing to keep things fresh and exciting throughout (the breathless car chase scene also helps, we grant you). The character relationships continue to develop in new and interesting ways, whilst the office biting and backstabbing results in the kind of clever, witty, quotable dialogue that sticks in the memory long after initial viewing.
Aired at 10pm on Thursday 20 November 2014 on Channel 4.
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