‘My Mother and Other Strangers’ review: Episode 3 offers a rural escape

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In a world of turmoil and uncertainty, it could be easily imagined that escaping to the fictional village of Moybeg every Sunday evening could be quite the tonic we’re all looking for.

In Barry Devlin’s latest BBC period drama, the rural rustic setting certainly is an incredible escape, but three weeks in and the beautiful background isn’t quite enough to lift this slow paced drama, where even the war isn’t enough to make things happen.

We rejoin the inhabitants of Moybeg and airbase Station 328, in what feels like the beginning of an episode of Jonathan Creek – it’s Halloween and someone is putting on a play by candlelight. The local children are enthralled, we see that Michael Coyne likes poetry as much as his English wife Rose.

My Mother and Other Strangers 1 3 Francis Coyne (MICHAEL NEVIN), Emma Coyne (EILEEN O'HIGGINS)

Maisey Quinn is sick with scarlet fever that she may, or may not, have caught from the dump, which also happens to be seemingly where all the other children in the village go to play. Francis Coyne, our narrator and the son of ‘My Mother’ is toiling with his emotions and misplaced guilt about playing in the sin pit (the dump) of the village, by hiding from the police and the U.S. Airforce, which is similar to what he was doing last week when he was certain he was going to end up in court for being on a boat.

Rose and Michael are still not seeing eye to eye about the selling of illegal corned beef, other black market goods, and stolen paint from the air base and with Captain Dreyfuss making late night calls to Rose, she’s all in a tither about the men in her life.

Maisey Quinn’s scarlet fever is spreading and Rose and Michael, who aren’t on talking terms, unite as their youngest daughter, Kate, is taken down with the fever, but even at the bedside of their ailing daughter they can’t put their differences aside.

My Mother and Other Strangers Ronald Dreyfuss (AARON STATON), Rose Coyne (HATTIE MORAHAN), Michael Coyne (OWEN MCDONNELL)

Maisey Quinn doesn’t survive the fever, and the Doctor clears Francis’s guilt by revealing that the source of the fever had actually come from the actors from the Halloween play, not the dump. Not quite the twists and mystery of a Jonathan Creek, more a case of making sure the one loose end was tied up.

At the funeral for the young girl Rose sees Captain Dreyfuss comforting Nurse Tiller and, even in this moment of sadness, she realises that she has to let go of her secret crush.

In simultaneous moments of confession and repentance, Michael goes to the confessional box to unload about the paint, Rose throws Captain Dreyfuss’s secretly hoarded button on to the fire, and Francis chucks his dump found toy airplane in to Lough Neagh, and as each of them clears their conscience Kate makes a remarkable recovery. She’s the only child in the story who recovers, so I don’t know what that says about the Quinn family’s guilt…

As Rose and young Francis do ‘the right thing’ and put the paint back, our narrator tells us that he and his mother ‘went home together in the twilight’. And as their shadows dance against the sun set, I can’t help but wonder when this slightly twee drama will dance out of the twilight and in to the light.

Aired at 9pm on Sunday 27 November 2016 on BBC One.

Buy My Mother and Other Strangers on DVD on Amazon here.

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