WARNING: spoilers below
Have you ever sat on a train next to a braying group of drunken idiots, late at night? Loudly recounting the tale of their boisterous, Jägerbomb-fuelled evening? They’re awful people and you pretty much hate them all and everything about them, but you just can’t help but listen to them. You’ve even unplugged your headphones. Soon enough, you’re completely drawn in. The anecdotes are expletive-filled and stomach-churningly offensive, but you’re hooked. Time flies by and you realise your stop is coming up. You’re going to miss the end of the story. God knows you’d hate to actually have to meet or deal with any of these people one to one, but somehow they’ve immersed you into their unsettling and rather disgusting world. You’re repelled, but you can’t get enough.
Well, Rellik is kind of like that.
Bereft of redeeming characters, devoid of light moments and relentlessly grim in subject matter, it is – to put it mildly – not a very cheery watch. Yet somehow you can’t look away. We’re a full five hours into the backwards-told Acid Killer investigation now and even with the reverse chronology meaning the body count actually drops with each passing week, things are getting no less disturbing. If anything, somehow, Rellik is even seedier and more horrible than ever.
We started the series at the end of the story. Lead detective DI Gabriel Markham, severely burned and obsessed with tracking down his attacker, is a gruff and monosyllabic lunatic, running around in near-constant agony, smashing things up. As the episodes have gone on and we’ve slipped further and further back in time, we’ve started to see the man before his attack. And it’s not a pretty picture that’s painted. In fact, by episode 5, we’re left with a pretty clear image. Markham is a nasty, lying, selfish, guilt-free, nihilistic, drug-using narcissist. And that’s not a good combination of character traits for anyone, let alone a police officer in charge of a large-scale murder investigation.
He might not be Prince Charming, but Gabe’s certainly got a way with the ladies. We discover this week that Elaine isn’t the only colleague of his to have fallen for his rather hard-to-spot charms. He makes a regular habit of seducing the new female recruits. And, as with Elaine, he’s not above telling them that he loves them. When he doesn’t. This time though, those three little words come back to bite him later on. Potentially in a pretty big way.
The plot thickened with Dr Isaac Taylor this week, although his phone conversations with the first victim, his partner Dr Jonas Borner, seem to put his name in the clear. New (or is that old?) suspect Richard Bell is put in and out of the frame very briefly as well. So the big reveal at the end – which we won’t spoil for anyone yet to watch this episode – very much seems to put the spotlight on someone in particular. Someone very close to home. We’ll just say this – if you’ve been following our reviews so far, we might well have guessed who the Acid Killer is a few weeks back… But then again there is another hour left. There are no doubt more twists to come.
The early word is this: episode 6 is even uglier and more shocking and disturbing than the sixty minutes we just watched… So, y’know. Fair warning and all that.
Next week’s instalment is the final stop on the Rellik train. Part of us is glad that this grisly series will stop creeping further into our brains with its blood-soaked tentacles. But at the same time, we’re going to miss it once we alight. It’s not been an easy watch and we’d struggle to recommend it to more casual fans of crime drama. But if you like your fiction blacker than black, then we can’t speak highly enough of this grim, grim, grim serial killer thriller.
Did you tune in for Rellik episode 5? Did you see the big twist coming? What did you make of that reveal at the end? And how do you see the last episode playing out? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…