By Any Means: Episodes 4 & 5 Review
Reviewed by James Amos.
“My brief is ‘by any means’ remember?”
Episode 4 sets itself apart from the last three, simply because for the first time the team actually make a proper mistake. Not only this, but the reason they made the mistake is because for once the show was living up to its name ‘By Any Means’. Their only real answer lied in kidnapping one of the crooks in order for the other to show them where the money is. It was a dangerous idea, and it showed how the team can become reckless.
Of course, I’ve been asking for a mistake to be made by the team for a very long time, just so we can actually see them improvising. And although this handed me what I wanted on a silver platter, it didn’t really thrill me as much as I hoped it would. For instance, the mistake was fairly short lived. They got out of jail in no time at all, and the only downside was that they now weren’t allowed to carry on with the investigation or even touch the baddies. But they’ve been in this sort of situation before in the episode previous to this, where they weren’t allowed to touch the bad guy. So the effects of the slip up weren’t as dire as I hoped they’d be. Basically the reasoning behind it is that it showed that this team doesn’t always get it right. Now I’m waiting for a moment where not only do they slip up, but they pay the price for it, allowing them to really try and get the bad guys by any means possible.
“It’s game over for the usual routes to justice, which is why I thought of you.”
By Any Means so far has been sort of a mixed bag. The opener was lazy, and although the episodes following it weren’t bad, none of them have been exceedingly good. Does this story break the mould?
We open up on yet another crime, this time with a crook evil enough to shoot an innocent man three times in the back. We get to see the ruthlessness of the criminal as he stands over his victim whilst calmly munching an apple, yet unfortunately this doesn’t make him any more dangerous than the criminals we’ve had before in the series, and again we can see that the stakes have not really got higher. Of course, they don’t have to get higher, but I’d like to give the show more than just a ‘good’ rating. So far it’s been more or less the same thing every week. The writers may want to wait until the big finale, but that just means we are left with average to good episodes for the other five weeks, with nothing touching great or amazing standard.
This episode does set itself apart from the others lightly, for instance the By Any Means team don’t even show up until nearly 10 minutes in. This gives us time to witness what they are going to have to be dealing with. A man who is almost impossible to be convicted without the gun that he hid in the woods, as well as MI5 releasing him in the interests of national security. We can see that although it will certainly be a tricky one for the team, its nothing worse than what they’ve handled before.
The plan is actually very clever. By capturing Ahmed and pretending to be on his side, they can get him as close to the forest where the crime happened. Then, once they trick Ahmed into believing his life is endangered they can be assured he will lead them to where he hid the gun. The plan, once again, is pulled off almost perfectly. Although I was rather happy there was no unneeded big twist thrown into the mix, as the show has been mistaken in doing that before. Instead it was rather easy to guess what the team were planning as soon as they sped away in the car, and I applaud the writers for coming up with this simple yet ingenious plan that put Ahmed behind bars.
The only problem I have is that this is the penultimate episode of the series. A lot of the time, and especially with BBC dramas, the second to last story is one of the most exciting; even if it isn’t connected to the last in any way as this one wasn’t. Yet I’m stuck here thinking the same thing I thought after the second or third episode, it was good, but it wasn’t great. This is strange as there aren’t any real flaws in the episode, the plot in itself was rather good. But, and I find myself saying this frequently in these reviews, I just wanted something more. The plots have never got any more intense and the stakes have never really gotten higher, its just more or less the same thing week after week. The characters haven’t really been developed further since episode 2, and we actually haven’t seen them badly affected from the missions they are setting up.
There are positives however, I thought the soundtrack to this episode was fantastic, especially when it got to the eerie waiting scene in the safe house. The direction once again was excellent, and the acting from the four mains was a joy to watch. Warren Brown especially has really got his teeth into this part and made it his own. Also, if it’s anything to go by, the Next Time trailer does indeed make the last episode of the series look like a cracker. Perhaps for the last one the stakes truly will be higher and it may even get personal for the team, whatever happens, it has to be a step up from the episodes we’ve had so far. Although there are positives, there are also little niggles I had with the episode. The plot has a few similarities with episode three, it was almost like a less extreme version. These are meant to be standalone episodes with a brand new mission every week, meaning each week should be different from the last. Also, the writers shouldn’t have felt the need to explain the twist, if the audience hadn’t grasped it before hand, then the moment the crook picked up the gun would have been enough. It didn’t have to go back and explain what had happened as it was pretty open and shut already, by doing this they are assuming the intelligence of the audience.
All in all, I’m left feeling a bit funny on my view of this episode. I liked it, I’ve like all of them apart from the first. The only thing that’s getting me down is the lost potential behind each script, the episodes could be a lot better than what they actually are. This makes me unable to give them a final rating anything higher than a 7. Like I said, this episode was definitely good, but there was nothing in there that made it great.