Our Girl takes a different direction this week as Molly and Smurf return back to Britain on respite from their Afghanistan tour. However, coming back home only seems to highlight the differences in Molly’s life.
A comical, light-hearted opening sequence with the soldiers on an assault course, to the tune of ‘Good Golly, Miss Molly’ provides a moment of levity, but we soon realise that this episode is all about the drama. There is an ominous sense of tension lingering throughout the rest of the episode that builds successfully, creating a palpable air of unease and shock at its events.
“I don’t care what they get paid, it ain’t enough. They’re just kids Smurf, its sick” says Molly, upon the discovery of murdered Afghan comrades at an ambushed mountain checkpoint. The discovery of the slaughtered soldiers, bloodied and decaying in the Afghan sun, is a disturbingly striking visual.
Director Richard Senior does a phenomenal job here in highlighting the differences in Molly’s worlds, both as a soldier in Afghan and as a daughter and sister back in the UK, by applying simple aesthetic and tonal changes. The Afghan scenes, bathed in sunlight, are frenetic in pace, while the UK filming is languid, grey and deliberately emptier in activity: all to highlight that Molly’s place is now with the Army and to explore how much she would have lost out on, had she not enrolled.
Smurf (Iwan Rheon) is explored more as well this week as we learn more about his home life and why he is the way he is. “I couldn’t wait to see him…to hold him”, Smurf’s mum explains to Molly through her tears, reiterating about how she lost her other son and was genuinely afraid she’d lose Smurf too. It’s a genuinely affecting moment, and the loss is echoed when Smurf repeats the words spoken at his brothers funeral from the Dylan Thomas poem, ‘Under Milk Wood’.
“We are not wholly bad or good…”, repeating the sentiment Captain James said to Smurf when leaving Afghanistan. Rheon proves his dexterity as an actor, showing a sensitivity and vulnerability that hasn’t been afforded to his character yet. It also provides another of the episode’s key themes: how families cope when their loved ones are off fighting and in potential danger.
The episode’s main element is to highlight that Molly is maturing: as a person, as a soldier and in her expanded outlook on life. The episode is peppered with some lovely character moments that show this: her conversation with her Dad over supporting her Mum (“If you hold her hand, you’ll move up with her”), her Coco Pops flirtation with Captain James, all furtive glances and smiles, and their heartfelt goodbye (“Come back to me”). However, as matured a person and as good a soldier as she is becoming, she is shaken to her core by the latest developments in Afghanistan.
The distrust and suspicion towards Afghan soldier Sahal (Tamer Burjaq) that has built over the last few episodes comes to a head here and, like the Bashira storyline, turns our expectations on its head. Molly is heartbroken to find out she is a target for the Taliban after supporting Bashira and feels so guilty when she learns that Sahal, who was asked by the Taliban to assassinate her, was beaten with rocks and left to die because he refused to do kill her.
Turner really proves her worth here and is mesmerising to watch as the conflicted Molly, crumbling under the pressure of the threat.
As we reach more than halfway through this five-part run, there are enough emotional and dramatic moments to follow us through to the season’s final episodes.
Aired at 9pm on Sunday 5 October 2014 on BBC One.
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