‘Marchlands’: Episode 4 review

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Whilst the previous instalment of ITV1’s supernatural drama Marchlands stoked up the scares and chills, Episode 4 holds back on the jumps but fires up the mystery behind the titular house.

The events surrounding Alice Bowen’s murky end are still not fully known, but more details seep out this week as we edge closer to discovering why the little girl is haunting future generations who live in her former home. Deaf woman Olive Runcie, who was but a peripheral character, comes to the fore as we learn more about her relationship with Mark (Elliot Cowan), who now lives in Marchlands in the current day with his wife and new born baby.

Interestingly, she is also one of the few players that we witness over the three time zones – ’60s, ’80s and present day. It would appear that young Olive was present when Alice died and your curiosity will be piqued by the fact that Alice’s mother Ruth, played so stoutly by Anne Reid (Dinnerladies), seems to deny much knowledge of her. Of course, Ruth has made a habit of omitting certain salient facts about her life; like not telling current the occupants (who, remember, have named their child Alice) that she used to live there.

Back in the ’80s (or forwards, depending on your point of view), the mystery deepens as concerned father Eddie Maynard, sympathetically played by Dean Andrews (Ashes To Ashes), approaches a local Priest – the same man who demanded that Ruth and her husband procreate after the death of their child in the ’60s – about an exorcism for the house.

The moments featuring the blessed water risk coming off as slightly comical, but it only highlights the belief of Eddie and his desperation to help his daughter. However, this faith only fires up the anger of his wife Helen (Alex Kingston). Their daughter, who claims to be seeing Alice, is the focus of their attention, but what both parents seem to be missing is the fact that their son is suffering seizures. Whether or not this is at the hands of Alice remains to be seen…

It’s these seemingly incidental characters who now appear to hold the key to the entire story, not the couples and families we were initially introduced to. Although it’s a bit of comedown after the super scares in Episode 3, the mystery – or, in fact, mysteries – will still keep you glued to the screen wondering how it’s all going to pan out in next week’s finale.

Airs at 9pm on Thursday 24th February 2011 on ITV1.

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