Blackout – Episode 2

Christopher Eccleston gets down and dirty, part 2.

 

4 stars

 

 

Daniel Demoys (CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON) and Ruth Pulis (REBECCA CALLARD) in Blackout episode 2

 

UK air date: Monday 9th July, BBC One, 9pm

 

Another week, another Monday and the murky July skies give way to the murky, rain sodden (winter? probably) skies of The Northern City where Daniel Demoys (Christopher Eccleston) has assumed the mantle of mayor. As he tries to invest the council with his reborn idealistic values, he does his best to keep control of the manslaughter conspiracy that threatens to engulf him…

 

It would be tempting to say that this week's middle episode isn't as good as last week's, which centred on Demoys' visceral battle with the gutter. Tellingly, the best scene here is one where he struggles against drinking a glass of vodka in the dimly lit nightclub where he picked up Sylvie (MyAnna Buring), as nurse Donna (Branka Katic, in a low key but stand out performance) mysteriously pops up like an ex-alcoholic guardian angel. "You hate yourself, all we alcoholics do," she tells him. Tears rolling down his face and shot in extreme close up, Demoys heartbreakingly confides, "My wife knows what a vile piece of scum I am." This is brave stuff for any actor to take on, but Eccleston really is mesmerizing as the guilt-wracked councillor (even with occasionally overwrought dialogue).

 

Slightly disappointingly, the female characters hardly develop. Demoys' wife Alex (Dervla Kirwan) remains glacially disgusted by him throughout, while part-time call girl, Sylvie, and Ruth Pulis (Rebecca Callard), the fragile daughter of the businessman who Demoys accidentally killed, both pine for intimacy with their friend the mayor. I'm hoping that this isn't because author Bill Gallagher hasn't done his job and has left them underwritten, but because he's clearly been reading his Franz Kafka. Like that author's The Trial and The Castle, Blackout is a tale of male angst seen almost exclusively from the protagonist's perspective; any number of the women who cross the anti hero's path could be his downfall, while sexual tension hovers dangerously around most of these relationships. Significantly, in the scene where Demoys confesses his crime to his wife, the positioning of the two actors is deliberately awkward. Alex has her back to him while her husband crouches uncomfortably in the background of the frame, emphasizing Demoys' estrangement and isolation from the person he should be the closest to.

 

Episode two is a slow burner, with lots of characters warily circling Demoys, and the nagging feeling persists that his ruin is moving inexorably closer. The overall impression here is that the pieces are being put in place for next week's apocalyptic showdown, for what promises to be – on the strength of last week's opener and the better parts of this one – an absolutely cracking finale.

 

Please don't disappoint us, Mr Gallagher.

 

Rob Fairclough

 

Click here for a clip from episode 2:

 

 

 

Blackout - Episode 2
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