We’ve made the lazy comparison to shows like Tales of the Unexpected before, but it’s in this episode where such lineage really makes itself known.
Whereas in previous episodes, Inside No. 9 was literally that – half an hour trapped in the titular location – ‘Tom and Gerri’ makes the promise of a life on the streets and roads beyond. It isn’t always a promise that is kept, but that’s rather the point as would-be writer (but actually teacher) Tom, played by Reece Shearsmith is forced to face the unpleasant realities of life when he looks into the eyes of homeless Migg (Steve Pemberton).
If you’re good at reading between the lines, then you’d be well advised to skip over the rest of this paragraph. It’s not that we’re going to indulge in anything as tiresome as spoilers, but it’s true to say there’s a pleasingly ambiguous air to the episode (if not the actual final reveal) that will have you rewinding back to clarify exactly what it was you think you saw and heard. It’s true that there is a twist of sorts by the time the final credits roll, but it’s also likely that you’re meant to pick up on the many clues scattered throughout the preceding twenty eight minutes. Also gently blurred are the moral compasses of each character, every hero throwing away a line that hints at twattishness, every villain suggesting a noble and sad backstory.
With sterling support from Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace) and Conleth Hill as the most important people in Tom’s life, this is a tightly scripted half hour that has much in common with a stage play. It has plenty to say about the need to face up to reality, and is, once again, an episode we’d be uncomfortable about pigeoning as ’comedy’ or ’drama’ (and certainly not the clunky ’dramedy’). Better to appreciate it for what it is: a genuinely good tale of the honestly unexpected.
Aired at 10pm on Wednesday 19 February 2014 on BBC Two.
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