It seems as though we say this every week with Marcella, but if you thought things were bleak and harrowing last week… Well then, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Except you probably have seen this fourth episode (which is why you’re reading this review). If you’ve not long turned off the latest instalment of the Anna Friel-starring ITV1 crime drama, there’s a very good chance you’ll still be reeling from another fifty minutes of tonally pitch black and unrelenting gloominess.
So dark and joyless is Marcella at times that the closing credits almost come as a relief. That’s not to say that we don’t enjoy following the grim events on show, it’s just that it can almost be too much to bear at times. Especially with it going out on a Monday, the internationally agreed-upon Most Depressing Day of the Week™.
The closing scene of episode 3 almost left us on a rare high with the kidnapped kid Adam escaping the clutches of the demented serial killer at the heart of the story. Running for his life through a wood, he was picked up by an elderly couple, desperate to help. Finally, some good news!
Except it didn’t last. Mere minutes after taking the kid in and planning a dash to the hospital, the trio’s car is nudged onto a train track and they’re all smashed to bits by a couple of hundred tons of speeding train. Typical, isn’t it? You rescue you a child from being tortured by a mad occultist child murderer and then you’re all but obliterated by the 3.45 to Oxford.
Firmly back into the realm of nightmare, the next scene took us to the peeved child molester Phil Dawkins, determined to get some baby-related revenge on Marcella. His not overly nice plan? To break into her home and rape her son. Luckily for the Backlands (sort of), Marcella’s colleague Mark has been spying on them and notices Phil in the house. He then puts in a call that saves Edward from being attacked, but tips Marcella off about his creepy webcam snooping in the process. Her reaction? Not to thank Mark for rescuing her child. Or even to report him to HR for inappropriate conduct. Nope, Marcella deals with the situation in true Marcella-style and assaults him. Then forces him to dig up blackmailable material on her ex-husband and his seemingly whiter-than-white new missus.
Speaking of the ex, Jason, you may remember we theorised last week that he could be behind Marcella’s violent blackouts and attacks. And, well, we could just be onto something. Only this week we discover that he faked his recent ‘post-incident’ injuries in order to make his former wife appear to be an even worse mother than she already is.
In our last recap we also praised this second series for keeping the suspects to a comparative minimum. Unfortunately, we may have to rescind that applause a little as this fourth episode introduced two new characters that could be up to no good. A young lesbian couple, one of whom works for a children’s charity we’ve already seen could be involved somehow in the children’s disappearances.
Continuing to throw fuel on the already flaming suspect-y fires are Nigel Planer and Keith Allen’s washed-up rock n’ roll types, as well as the self-made millionaire-in-trouble type, Vince. This week sees him sniffing around a boxing gym where he shows a young teenage boxer a lot of interest before driving off with him. Is he a Phil Dawkins-style pervert? Or, as we assume, is there something else going on?
We’re no closer to an answer as to the killer’s identity yet. What we do know though, is that it seems as if they may think they’re actually helping the child. The weird wooden discs being symbolic of warding off evil and all.
Was the killer abused themselves? Will Adam be able to identify his kidnapper when he finally wakes up? And will next week’s episode feature a single smile from anyone…? We’ll have to tune in to find out (although we probably already know the answer to that last one, don’t we?).
Did you tune in for Marcella series 3 episode 4? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below…