Still catching up on Deadwater Fell episode 2? Read Steve’s review of episode 1 here.
Last week’s opening episode of Channel 4’s melancholic yet gripping new four-part series Deadwater Fell left us with a rather clear picture of who burned down the Kendrick home. We were led to believe, rather pointedly, that the depressed Kate had drugged her three daughters, locked them in their room and set ablaze to the family home.
Not so, however. At least not according to this second instalment of Daisy Coulam’s involving thriller, anyway.
Don’t dismiss the idea that Kate may have been responsible for the fire, though. Only we get the distinct impression that Coulam is playing with us a little here. Deadwater Fell feels like it’s very subtly manipulating our expectations and making us rely on our prejudices and presumptions to solve the puzzle. There are a few twists in the road ahead, we’re sure of it.
We begin this week’s episode with a brace of funerals – both held on the same day, yet poles apart in tone. First, only a handful of people attend a very stilted, quick and sombre cremation for Kate. Her assumed responsibility for her three children’s deaths left few members of Kirkdarroch’s small community overly keen to attend.
The second service saw the entire town turn out and bereaved father Dr Tom Kendrick (David Tennant) give an impassioned speech about his sadly departed daughters. Kate’s name wasn’t even mentioned. Her part of a freshly-planted memorial rose garden was later vandalised. The town had decided: Kate Kendrick killed the kids.
Jess (Cush Jumbo, Vera), however, is not convinced. Connected to Tom and Kate in a variety of ways, the more she hears and sees, the more suspicious she is that it’s the family patriarch behind the fire.
When she meets an old pal of Kate’s from their days at teacher training called Sasha (Seline Hizli, Grantchester) and finds out that Tom also seduced her as some kind of twisted power move, it seemingly cements the idea in her head. Tom was responsible.
Jumbo is outstanding here as a very personally involved Jess who inadvertently finds herself in something of a Sherlock Holmes role. She holds up this second instalment, allowing Tennant to dip in and out of the picture almost like a ghost. Or is he more like a werewolf? He’s lean, hairy and seemingly capable of two different states – one calm, friendly and reassuring, the other cunning, snarling and perhaps even murderous.
What’s clever about Deadwater Fell is that it keeps you guessing about David Tennant’s performance. Are we watching a grieving man, broken by the death of his wife and three infant children? Or a dead-eyed sociopath plotting to get away with murder?
We’re thrown a curve-ball in the final moments of this second episode which suggests that perhaps Tom isn’t a secret monster. Troubled troublemaker Dylan’s statement to the police seems to waver at the end, his whisky and nitrous oxide-blighted memory of the night of the blaze seeming to put Kate back in the frame…
We’re halfway through this rather mournful but engaging series. Where is it heading? We’re not quite certain yet, but we’re eager to find out.
Did you watch Deadwater Fell episode 2? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!