Whilst Titanic’s historical inaccuracies are piling up, unfortunately for Fellowes, the compliments are not. The third instalment of ITV1’s drama limps on, attempting to develop the characters whilst plot lines duck and weave.
The mysterious Peter Lubov comes further out of the shadows this week, becoming embroiled with the Maloney family, yet still failing to really intrigue. The unveiling of his true identity (which is likely to ring no bells with the majority of the audience) in combination with his strange power over Mary Maloney only serves to make his character more absurd and out of place in a cast of straight laced stereotypes.
Jumping from character to character, deck to deck, requires a certain amount of recapping to ensure audiences do not get lost; however, the repetition of footage from previous episodes leaves the impression that the series is one endless catch up with relatively little fresh action.
A weakness in the set design identified earlier suffers further with a closer focus on the ship’s descent from the point of view of the steerage class, which serves only to make the decks seem even more unrealistic. The ship barely moves or makes a sound despite the enormous amounts of water flooding into the lower decks.
Once again the most successful moments of drama in the hour are those that awaken human sympathies for these characters facing a very conscious and unavoidable end. The final scene of the episode is certainly distressing and thought provoking, yet once again it relies on the very fact of the Titanic sinking to get a reaction from its audience. The overwhelming reality of such a tragic loss of life remains all that is keeping this adaptation afloat.
This penultimate episode puts increasing pressure on the finale to deliver both climactic conclusions for the various erratic story lines and a sufficiently cathartic end to satisfy viewers – a tall order for a drama that seems to have already played all of its few trump cards.
Airs at 9pm on Sunday 8th April 2012 on ITV1.
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