By Any Means: Series 1 Episode 3 Review
Reviewed by James Amos.
“His times nearly up, this is going to be his last job.”
Another Sunday, another episode of By Any Means. Last week we were left with a very satisfactory and sufficiently entertaining hour, a vast improvement over the bland opener. This week, it was rather hit and miss.
The opening of the episode gets it right yet again. We are given a rather grim few scenes as we see a young boy preparing for a football trial, his mum handing him brand new yellow trainers. After the opening titles, we see them lying in the ash, the block of flats burned to the ground. It’s moments like this which reminds you why you’re watching the show, as well as what sets it apart from other rather heartless crime dramas. The episode has an interesting prospects, and it certainly heightens the challenge for the ‘By Any Means’ crew. Yet it falls short on closing interesting ideas in an ideal and satisfactory way, making the whole thing rather a mixed bag. Indeed, the episode did well on opening interesting plot threads, yet the conclusion of them was rather disappointing.
Thomas, or rather ‘Tom Tom’, is on his last mission with the team before he can leave. This thought of whether or not he’ll stay is sewn into the episode, opening and closing different doors the story could have gone down. At one point Tom wants to have a word with Jack about it, but he’s distracted. In other points it seems he almost wants to leave, as his job is to always sit at the computer without getting in on the action. At another, Charlie brings it up that this is Tom’s last mission. Both Jessica and Jack almost laugh it off, discussing getting him a cake. It’s almost as if they don’t really want to think about being in the team without him. It’s a welcomed plot thread, one of them isn’t actually there by choice; will he go or will he stay? Unfortunately this isn’t really paid off in the end. We get a short scene where he is, out of audio for the audience, making his decision. Believe it or not, this is all resolved through Tom knocking off two police officers hats, cementing his place yet again in the team. It’s all a bit ‘meh’. It was an amusing and nice moment, in that Tom wanted to stay. Yet I was expecting a bit more from this, it almost felt like the thought of Tom having to leave didn’t need to be included in the episode at all. It didn’t come to anything, and it didn’t really push his or any of the others characters forward.
Another thing that didn’t really see the bar set for itself was Charlie and his attachment to the ambassadors daughter Vanessa. It threatened the entire mission, and could have even clouded his judgement on what he was doing. Especially after Vanessa admitted her feelings for him, and how she knew he was the only man who liked her for her. It was a tricky situation, and Jack simply shrugs it off. This could have come to something, it could have even foiled the mission for them, making Jack question his emotional tactics. Unfortunately, like Tom’s story, this falls short on becoming anything. It doesn’t really affect the mission in any way, and she simply walks off in the end, with Charlie choosing not to go after her. Don’t read this the wrong way, it wasn’t an emotional moment at all, the emotion in their false relationship is simply brushed away in five seconds. It’s a shame as the writer did well in setting up these interesting plot points, but there sort of there for nothing. There is no point in them if they don’t come to anything, and both of them come to nothing.
The general plot though was very good. Was it me or did the party at the end feel like a Mission Impossible scene? It was all very impressive, but again, the writer gets it wrong. For some reason there must be a plot twist in every episode. It was good in the opener, it was alright in the second episode, but here it was simply unneeded. There were many things that nearly put a hold in the plan, and for one moment it looked like this may be a mission they fail in. But by the end we discover it was all part of the plan yet again. These twists are verging on being monotonous, it means a lot of things are being kept from the audience. A lot of the time that works, but here it just doesn’t. We should have seen the ‘By Any Means’ gang complete the mission without everything being part of the plan, again I find myself saying that they should have something that doesn’t go their way. It would have been far more interesting to see them at the party with the plan completely down the drain, and we could have then seen what they would do from there.
All in all, I find myself saying the same thing as last week, the team need a challenge. This was good in giving them a bit more to deal with, what with Philip being protected from an arrest or any harm. But rarely was there a real struggle with the mission, I would quite like to see that. However, I’m happy that things are still going in the right direction, and this episode was very entertaining and very funny. The directing wasn’t quite as good as the previous two efforts, but I can look over that for now as it’s still far better than most things we’re seeing on the tele at the moment. Looking forward, I would like to see the show raise the stakes. In short, I want to see something actually go wrong, I want to see the ‘By Any Means’ team fall into unknown territory; improvisation. It wont make the show instantly perfect, but it would certainly shake things up a bit and make for a more exciting viewing experience. Yet, from the ‘Next Time’ trailer, it looks like we may get just that.