Like a man returned from the grave, Tommy’s dad turns up, talking like a pilgrim who travelled to America by way of the Road to Damascus and beheld a coming glory: casinos. A new place of worship to pray to the gods of chance. A way for the Shelby’s to rake it in that’s faster than four hooves can.
Of course we, sitting at home with our Shiraz and Dragons’ Den, can tell his dad’s full of fool’s gold and bullshit but Arthur Jnr. – the GOB Bluth of the Shelby family to Arthur’s George Snr. – is taken in by his father’s promise that there’s always money in the banana stand. We know he’ll disappoint Arthur, Arthur probably knows it deep down too, and you can’t help but feel sorry when it all falls apart as quickly as his homemade noose.
While one relationship withers, another blooms. Lurrrve is in the air for Tommy and Grace, and who can blame them – there really is nothing quite like a near death experience to get the blood coursing toward your genitals. The sudden openness between the two not only breaks the floodgates of sexual tension, but is a chance for Grace to react truthfully to events rather than sing hits from ‘Now! That’s What I Call Mournful Irish Drinking Music 79’. And not a moment too soon. Annabelle Wallis has been forced to play a sleeper agent so somnambulous that it’s a wonder she hasn’t been serving drinks in her pyjamas.
Speaking of seeing Grace in nightwear, curmudgeonly old Badger of the Yard Inspector Campbell feels his moustache stirring with amorous feelings. However, his growled proposal feels more like a reason to create more tension between Campbell and Shelby, instead of a natural progression. A last minute shot of ire to remind us to tune in next week.
Things run so smoothly otherwise that you could almost be fooled into thinking that this was the final episode rather than the penultimate. Campbell finds the guns, Tommy and Grace finally have some bouncy 1900s style sex, and there are just enough threads left for the rumoured Series 2. The long pan at the end, showing the Shelbys as successful, is our cut of the success that Tommy’s dreamed of. Dramatically, it’s a perfect end. Well, as long as you’re not Freddie Thorn.
So, when is a show’s finale not a show’s finale? When it’s too perfect to be true. Because there’s a lot of unfinished business. Scores have to be settled. Campbell wants Shelby’s head. Freddie probably wants Shelby’s head. And get in line fellas because the IRA still want it too. Whatever happens in the true finale, it’s not going to be pleasant. In fact, we might be back in that graveyard soon.
Aired at 9pm on Thursday 10 October 2013 on BBC Two.
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