With numerous loose ends and mysteries to tie up in the last episode of ITV1’s supernatural drama, will Marchlands answer the questions we’ve all been pondering for the past four weeks?
Yes, it does. The fifth and final part categorically resolves the story of little girl Alice, who died in the 1960s and left her presence in the show’s titular house, where she has remained throughout the ’80s and up to the modern day.
Alice’s mother Ruth, played in 2010 by Anne Reid (Dinnerladies), has been left a clue by her daughter in the form of the letters written on a mirror: “askor”. Sadly, the subtlety of previous episodes has deserted the show and the scene featuring Ruth deciphering what these letters could possibly mean is painfully slow, not to mention clichéd when she does finally comprehend.
It’s indicative of the entire finale – everything is spelt out. With no mysteries and no ambiguities, the story becomes as mundane as your everyday soap. Indeed, in the opening episodes Marchlands was more akin to your nightly kitchen-sinker, with few scares and little of the promised supernatural.
The denouement returns to the relationships and families, sadly providing little in the way of scares. Episode 5 is all about tying up the threads. Many will be pleased that there is no Lost-style get-out, but the reasoning behind this whole saga simply does not warrant the events which followed such a banal and common occurrence.
Earlier instalments had hinted at the enigmatic nature of Alice’s “ghost”, much like Henry James’ The Turn Of The Screw for example, but perhaps this is too lyrical for ITV1. Instead the desire for firm resolution wins, whilst the notion of further thinking fails.
Despite some fine direction and an intriguing premise, ultimately Marchlands has barely warranted the five episodes it was assigned to tell the story and the cast never really found their feet, with too few characters engaging in any real or meaningful way.
Airs at 9pm on Thursday 3rd March 2011 on ITV1.