There’s a simple way to tell if you’re part of the viewer demographic that Glue has in its shot-glass sights.
It’s this: when all those teens were having that shindig in the woods, if you didn’t think ‘Who lugged that sound system and stage into the middle of nowhere? And what’s powering it? A generator?’, then you are definitely still young enough to fully enjoy every moment of hedonism among the hay.
If, like me, you’re old enough to appreciate party planning, there’s fortunately an incredibly strong, character-driven murder mystery to peer at over your mug of Horlicks. With so much crime drama on these days turning your TV into a licence-fee Cluedo, you’d think by now we’d have learned how to spot a guilty character in ten lines of dialogue or less. It’s to Glue‘s strength, both in the brio of the writing and performance, that no one sticks out as ‘murderery’.
Like a boozy Broadchurch, the engagement lies in trying to see who fits in and who doesn’t. The problem is these are youths, and half of being young is coping with the feeling of not fitting in.
Everyone’s an outcast, a suspect. And sure, Janine Reilly (played by Pride‘s Faye Marsay and pronounced ‘Janiiiiiiine Reiiiiiillyyyyy!’ by Father Ted fans), is heavily implicated, and looks culpable, what with the ketamine and all, but she’s clearly the early red herring. This is only the second episode of 8 after all.
With Yasmin Paige brilliantly but carefully articulating being stuck in that awkward transition between carefree youth and responsible careerwoman, investigating copper Ruth is the biggest outcast; ostracised by both her peers and estranged from the Roma community, to the viewer she even seems separated from her colleagues, and from her baby.
If anything she’s one of the biggest suspects: plenty to lose, close enough to the crime to cover things up, and with an uncanny ability to turn a ballad into a creepy rhyme, as she soothes her baby with a decidedly creepy and portentous rendition of The Lincolnshire Poacher.
Like Ruth, John Deer calendar pin-up James (Billy Howle) is also struggling with belonging. He’s been accepted to Durham University but is torn between going or staying on the farm. Take it from me Jim-Jam and stay on the farm. Sure, Durham has a world-class uni, but there’s like one good pub and everything shuts at five. Sincerely, a resident.
No, he’d be much better staying in pop-up party paradise Overton, especially as it seems he has unfinished business with the late Cal that he’d like to keep out of the police’s eye line.
Once again an episode ends with something on fire in a field. Is this going to become a motif? If so he might want to keep that new tractor of his locked in the shed…
Aired at 10pm on Monday 22 September 2014 on E4.
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