By Any Means: Series 1 Episode 6 (Finale) Review
Reviewed by James Amos.
“It’s a grey area.”
Over the weeks By Any Means has grown and matured as a show. It’s almost as if it wanted to take itself seriously after the dire opener. Although this is the case, By Any Means never raised its standard. It’s always been good, yet it’s never become something that wowed me. So did the finale raise the stakes? Did it stand out from the rest of the series? More importantly, did it give the audience a reason to want a second one?
To put it bluntly, yes. The finale was everything I wanted. It was something that raised the stakes and made the game more serious and more brutal, allowing the By Any Means team to really feel the effects of a mission that hasn’t gone perfectly to plan. At times it had humour, and there were a few fun elements to it, for instance the opening sequence. However, overall this last episode was very dark, and the team were truly pushed to their limit as they set out against a murderous villain who plans to bring an illegal new drug into Britain.
I didn’t think it was possible, but Warren Brown’s acting got even better here for the finale. I now completely see him as the leading tough man, rather than the soft younger brother we saw him as in Luther. This is Brown showing us how versatile he is, he nails this role and leads the group perfectly. The others have fully found their feet now too, although Conn’s character, Jessica Jones, still has a bit of a way to go in terms of development. What happened to Charlie could have actually happened to her. That could have been interesting as a sort of test to see if the audience care for her enough to want her character to survive. But then, this brings me onto what happens to Charlie in the first place.
This was a fantastic and bold move from the writer, one of the By Any Means team members going down, and perhaps for good. It was truly shocking to see Charlie put in this state due to the bad guy of the piece, Jamie Caine. It happened to not only make the audience take a step back and realise this is real, but the team as well. So far, and as I’ve said in my past reviews, the show’s writers haven’t got to grips with the effect the missions have on the cast. Well, they certainly grip that rope with both hands in the finale, even if it is a tad prolonged. Finally the team get to see how this can all go wrong, they get to feel the consequences of what they do. It adds to the drama, it adds depth to the series rather than it being a good guy gets bad guy storyline every week. Now the team aren’t just fighting to get the bad guy because they were asked, now they’re doing it because it’s got personal, they want to get him for Charlie. It’s an exciting twist, and it’s a lot more interesting for the viewer.
Of course, as I’ve said nearly every week, it was shot beautifully. A few shots and angles the director chose just wowed me, and it’s not often anything a director in television does that. He also knows how to shoot action scenes, which is always appreciated when it comes to TV drama, as a lot of the things we’re usually given are rather shoddy. Here it’s quick, exciting and quite literally packs a whole lot of punch. Also the music fitted excellently with the dark feel of the episode, as it has done throughout the series. I can’t quite believe this was given to us by the same guy who gave us episode one. The difference is almost disturbing, the rise in standard is astonishing: one was awful and the other was great television. There’s a large difference in the villain too, in episode one we’re given an exaggerated pantomime kind of villain. Here, we’re given the real deal, someone so unreliable the audience doesn’t know what he’s going to do next. It’s thrilling, bold and just a great way to end the series.
So overall, this series has been sort of a mixed bag for me. The opener was poor, and the rest were simply good. I suppose I expect a lot from BBC detective drama’s ever since the arrival of both Luther and Sherlock. By Any Means is no where near close to these two, but if the series had been up to the standard of the finale then it might have been a different story. This is why I truly hope the series is recommissioned for a second run. I believe that the second series would be far better in terms of quality compared to the first. I say this because the writers have been a bit lazy in terms of character development.
Warren Brown has had to create his own through his outstanding acting skills, even if the writer likes to think he brought it far enough through the predictable speech Jack gives to Charlie in episode one. Charlie and Tom-Tom’s characters have been developed necessarily throughout the series, so I have to commend the writers for that, even if there have been a few missed opportunities for the writers to give them even more. As I said before, Jessica has received the least out of the lot of them, so there’s still room for her development in series two. So now that nearly all the characters are more or less there, the second series can focus on testing them. This would mean we as an audience will get more enjoyment out of the drama every week due to our care of the characters.
In conclusion, the last episode of the series was an utter corker. The pacing was perfect, the directing was spot on, and the story was compelling. I felt like I was watching a different show, and it was wonderful to realise By Any Means really has matured as a crime drama. I do hope we’re treated to a second series, it would be a shame to waste this when we’ve only just gotten started.