WARNING: spoilers below
Rellik, it turns out, is all about the concepts of fate, self-determination and how the past shapes us as people. It may have confused some viewers and put off many with its backwards storytelling, but ultimately this very grown up and smart thriller has proved a triumph. Not just as entertainment, but as a bit of a thought provoker. Its themes force you to ponder why exactly people do the things they do. Perhaps the biggest question Rellik poses its viewers is this – ‘Can the scars of the past ever truly heal?’
That’s a heavy way to start this round-up and review of the sixth and final episode of Harry and Jack Williams’ jet black crime drama, we know. But then it’s been a pretty heavy series. This is no Murder, She Wrote-style fluffery. In fact, we’re fairly certain that we’ve never seen a BBC crimer this dark or disturbing before. And we watched every single second of The Fall…
If you recall the final scene of episode 5, you’ll no doubt remember the grand unveiling. The Acid Killer has been DI Elaine Shepard from the very beginning. Assigned to work on the case with her boss and lover DCI Gabriel Markham, it turns out that she’d been manipulating suspects, evidence and the entire investigation all along. All while conducting an illicit affair, dealing with the death of her murderer father and talking to the ghost of her mother on a daily basis. She’s certainly a lady that likes to keep busy.
This closing instalment really drives home the series’ main message of just how much the past can affect people’s psychology. We open the final episode with a flashback from Elaine’s youth. It’s been alluded to before, but we see the devastatingly traumatic incident which was to set her on a path to violence in later life. The murder of her mother, by her father, right in front of her. In a playground (which is, you’ll remember, where she would leave her victims as The Acid Killer).
We’re then treated to a visually stunning montage of the past five episodes in reverse, taking us right back through the whole case, but with the killer’s identity now no longer a mystery. Back up to speed and in the modern day, the action kicks off with Elaine being forced to steal a vital piece of evidence to keep the team from discovering that she’s responsible for the killings. But it doesn’t take long for Gabriel to work it all out and track her down.
In order to figure out where Elaine has holed up, he has to revisit some fairly nasty memories of his own. Some two decades ago, he and his then-partner Benton responded to a 999 call made by a patient at a psychiatric hospital known as The Salvia Unit. A 10-year-old girl called Helena Paredis had called in an assault. On arrival, Markham finds another patient raping the young girl. A scuffle ensues and Markham accidentally kills the man. Helena Paredis, we later find out, grows up to be Elaine Shepard (it’s an anagram, y’see…).
It all ends in flames, somewhat ironically for the severely-burned Gabriel Markham. But this time around, he’s able to impact the situation a little more and he escapes the huge fire. Holding his partner/former lover/perpetrator in his arms, she’ll have to face justice for the murders, which also now include that of a certain Dr Isaac Taylor, for his work in covering up her abuse all those years ago.
We end with Gabriel waking up – once more – in hospital, covered in burns. We cut to a dreamlike shot of him looking in the mirror, apparently free from disfigurement. Will his scars ever really heal? And how about Elaine’s/Helena’s…?
It’s been quite a journey over these past six weeks. What started as a little bit of a gimmicky show pony of a series with unlikeable characters and a slightly distracting plot device quickly turned into an absorbing character drama. Sure, it wasn’t perfect. Most subplots fell flat or tailed away and the relentless darkness could prove hard work at times. But by the end? It was hugely gripping and quite brilliantly stylish and thoughtful. We’ll miss it.
What did you think of Rellik episode 6? How did you find the series? Smart and original? Or too complicated and depressing? Let us know in the comments below…