Ramping up the drama with only two episodes left of this explosive third season, The Syndicate features closure for some and continued emotional rollercoasters for everyone else this week.
“Nick Harrison was shot last night. He’s in a pretty bad way. The shot hit an artery and he’s lost a lot of blood,” explains DI Baker (Polly Walker).
Of course, Nick has survived the gunshot that seemed to claim him in last week’s closing moments, but as a result Andy (Kieran O’Brien) finds himself in hot water.
It’s not looking good for him as he is implicated in Nick’s shooting. With the unexplained bruises on his face, an international bank account that could potentially be in his name (A. Stevenson – but is that Andy or Amy?) as well as Andy flying off the handle at a different person in every episode all leads you to believe he could very well be responsible for Amy’s disappearance.
It’s a credit to Kay Mellor’s writing that Andy’s potential guilt has been subtly signposted since the season opened and we genuinely don’t know, even now, if he is connected to his daughter’s disappearance.
The flashbacks continue to be a useful tool in this episode (even if the one involving Daisy Head’s Amy makes her character feel a tad underutilised), but is particularly effective in the Sarah and Sean storylines. Given what we know about Sean’s past in the flashbacks, there is a deeper level of poignancy in his story and indeed, Richard Rankin’s performance. But this episode really does belong to Cara Theobold as the lonely, yet hard-shelled Sarah.
We learn that Sarah is adjusting to her first real relationship since her ex and still carries around a tremendous amount of sorrow and guilt over the situation where she was left broken hearted and then subsequently lost her unborn child and her father one after the other. A particularly touching scene between Theobold and Rankin continues to display the romantic chemistry between the two leads and adds a sensitivity to the episode’s high drama.
Of course, things are no better upstairs in the Manor as Lord Charles and Lady Rachel continue to duke it out over the divorce, with Charles standing his ground triumphantly.
“I am sick to death of hearing about bloody Lydia,” Lady Rachel (Alice Krige) snaps at her husband, regarding his late wife. “I have lived with the ghost of your dead wife for the last twenty five years. Maybe that’s why our marriage didn’t work?”
Lord Hazelwood seems to be gaining ground over his wife and stepson though, much to their dismay. The reversal of the power of attorney puts him firmly back in charge over the Manor’s sale and the continued implication of Spencer in both Amy’s disappearance and the stolen and forged paintings highlights his criminal dealings, upsetting Lady Rachel.
So much so that by the episode’s end, Rachel leaves, unceremoniously and rather anticlimactically in the back of a taxi. The exit doesn’t really reflect the strength of Alice Krige’s performance as Lady Hazelwood (also highlighted in a fantastic, explosive little scene where she and Melanie Hill’s Julie fight), but I suppose a sharp exit, filled with quiet indignity is fitting for the character. It also paves the way to focus on other character’s developments in next week’s finale.
Yet the episode proves revelatory, explaining about Edwin, Lord Hazelwood’s first son who died, the mystery surrounding the priceless antique clock and the missing money from Dawn’s bank account. But no mystery is bigger than the one surrounding Lord Charles and Julie as we learn that her late husband Ken couldn’t have children and that Lord Charles is Sarah’s biological father. It’s not an entirely surprising revelation, but Melanie Hill and Anthony Andrews’ earnest performances sell it completely.
With only one week to go, The Syndicate has a lot to tie up but something tells me that the show’s winning streak will continue.
Aired at 9pm on Tuesday 30 June 2015 on BBC One.
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