As we reach Our Girl’s finale, separate story strands are dealt with in order to create a sense of closure for Army medic Molly (Lacey Turner), but there’s plenty of potential for further stories if a second season is commissioned.
Smurf, Molly and Captain James’ scenario is handled with subtlety, yet poignant sadness. Having given up on his Army career, James is ready to make Molly a priority and their blossoming romance is lovely to see out in the open. Ben Aldridge, as Captain James, has a lovely chemistry with Turner and the script highlights their differences, but in such a way that you root for them as a couple, urging them to overcome any obstacles.
More dramatic, however, is the way that the finale deals with Molly and Smurf’s friendship and Smurf makes several mature steps to move on, stepping aside to allow Molly and the Captain to be together.
He decides to leave the Army and become a mechanic so that his Mum doesn’t have to worry, planning to take Molly to Vegas, reinforcing that it’s just as friends. This maturity, growth and sense of calm within the character is what makes his death, from a brain hemorrhage that went unseen, all the more tragic.
Quick, jarring and only subtly foreshadowed (“You been getting headaches? That’s it then, you need glasses”), you can’t help but be moved by it. Iwan Rheon has been consistently magnetic in his performance as the troubled Smurf, both within his own character and his chemistry with Turner.
The Bashira element is also explored, adding a strong sense of human jeopardy in the episode’s third act as Molly goes undercover to the safe house where Bashira is being looked after. It’s a striking sequence that highlights the perilous nature of the situation and the tactics involved in protecting someone. Bashira has been a strong part of Molly’s continuing development as a soldier and it’s great that in seeing her again, her internal conflict, self-respect and affirmation of her Army life is resolved.
Director Anthony Philipson’s visually stimulating direction continues to impress as does the writing from creator Tony Grounds, who has produced something truly wonderful here. The guest cast also have the chance to shine, particularly Sean Gallagher and Kerry Godliman as Molly’s parents Dave and Belinda, whose honest portrayals of a troubled couple brings an emotional realism to proceedings.
Lacey Turner truly deserves special mention though. She shone in last year’s one-off film so much that it warranted this five-part season. Turner has approached the series with a warmth and human relatability in the role and is electric as the maturing, yet conflicted, Molly.
And yet the story feels unfinished, despite the attempts to wrap up all the stories here. Molly’s troubled sleep, constant flashbacks and separation from her domestic life speak of a PTSD storyline that would be a wonderful angle for a second season to explore.
For now, however, Our Girl ends on a salute and a smile.
Aired at 9pm on Sunday 19 October 2014 on BBC One.
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