‘Glue’ finale review

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So, seven episodes later, that‘s who killed Cal. Were you surprised?

If you weren’t then that’s not a bad thing. In fact a lack of surprise is probably the best response to discovering Cal’s brother, Eli (Callum Turner), was responsible for his death. More an ‘oh yeah…’ than an ‘OMG!’.

It’s a validation of Glue’s purpose, as well as the strength of its storytelling: it’s not a shock because it makes perfect sense. More sense than Broadchurch‘s big reveal did actually. And because of that it’s a satisfying end to what has been a consistently excellent (and sadly under-watched) drama.

Although if Blackout the horse had done it, that would have been both a surprise and made sense. I almost wanted it to be him, you know. A deadly Mr. Ed. But I digress. Back to the plot…

James Glue

So fresh on bail that he still probably has that ‘cell-mattress scent’ about him, James is kidnapped by Eli, who holds him responsible for trying to take Cal away from him. He sees James as just another trespasser on his idealised life, attempting to break up the family he desperately wants to believe in but never really had. It’s why he killed Ian, and why

It is at once difficult and easy to engage with Eli. He’s a product of the portraitist landscape as much as he is a product of a broken home: natural, feral, and damaged by the selfish imperfections of human interaction. It’s lead to him being a violent and confused man-child. The kind of person who accidentally kills his brother in a childish fit of rage.

There’s no need to get all purple-prosed about Callum Turner’s portrayal of him. He is excellent. We deserve to see a lot more of him in future, ideally with an award of some sort in his hand. As indeed can be said of the rest of the cast. As I said two weeks ago, it shows that the next generation of British talent is something to be genuinely excited about.

Glue Callum Turner

It’s a straightforward finale but that allows it to be all the more tense. And it is bloody tense, ramping up the threat carefully until you’re certain someone’s going to die; first Eli clubbing James over the head, then Eli breaking James’ leg, and finally threatening to put a cattle gun bolt into James’ brain. By the end – poetically set atop the Uffington White Horse – you’re expecting a good deal more blood than there is.

But the real wounds are the emotional ones. They always are when you’re a teenager. As Eli is carted off by the coppers, everyone else has to deal with the fallout of losing another yet another friend again. Good job Glue wasn’t 12 episodes long, or there’d likely only have been Tina and Rob left by the end.

But now that it is at an end we can look back and say that this has been a far more grown-up crime drama than its horse for courses opening episode suggested. And while it occasionally trotted when it should have galloped, but if a murder-mystery is judged by its conclusion then Glue is one of 2014’s best.


Aired at 10pm on Monday 3 November 2014 on E4.

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