Families matter to Mr. Mountjoy and his angels, as you’d expect given the effect a bad upbringing can have on a person later in life.
Like last week’s opening instalment, the second episode of Eternal Law has a familial theme, with a storyline about parents trying to look out for their kids to the best of their ability.
But where the Episode 1 was all about the surprise denouement – the child turning out to be the real baddie and the supposed ‘psychopath’ villain a protective dad – the ‘twist’ in last night’s episode about a custody battle between adoptive parents is that far from being embroiled in a human version of the celestial battle between good and evil, both contestants in the court-case have their child’s best interests at heart. And rather than having to uncover one of them (traditionally the least-likely of the two) as the villain, the angels’ job is to bring them together through their love of their child.
This realisation dawns on the increasingly soft-hearted cynic of the angelic duo, Zak (Samuel West), around the half-way mark and it isn’t really a twist so much as a gentle veer in a new direction, making the episode a more straightforward yet perhaps more subtle affair than last week.
Meanwhile the sexual tension between Zak and rival lawyer and love-interest Hannah mounts, with Hannah first mistrusting Zak for his unorthodox handling of the case and then when his strategy works being impressed with him and deciding to befriend him, only to have him thwart her attempts to patronise him.
Mr. Mountjoy’s no-intervention rule is still a bit on the vague side, however. Yet again Zak appears to break it the way he did last week: by placing a hand on a key witness’s shoulder to inspire her with an angelic vision in order to give the evidence he needs to win the case.
The legal sub-plot is again wrapped up satisfyingly enough, but what of the bigger picture; the reason why the angels are here in the first place? Zak speculates to Tom that if any more angels fall Mr. Mountjoy might well pull the plug on earth entirely, leaving it to pestilence, war and all-round misery.
But at the moment the chances of one of them falling – whatever that means – seem pretty slim.
Zak falling for Hannah doesn’t seem enough of a fall to warrant Mr. Mountjoy washing his hands of earth when Mrs. Sheringham did the same thing herself and still works for him, albeit in a reduced role, while fallen angel Richard Pembroke is more of a goader than a tempter. Thus so far there isn’t a feeling of anything larger being at stake than the court cases themselves.
Nevertheless, Eternal Law remains a well-acted, enjoyable show that celebrates niceness over nastiness, even if the idea of angels coming to earth and working as lawyers hasn’t yet been explored as intricately as it could be.
Aired at 9pm on Thursday 12th January 2012 on ITV1.
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