Mad Dogs: Series 3 Episode 3 Review
Reviewed by James Wynne.
Mad Dogs’ penultimate third series outing is a calamitous resumption of the lads’ ongoing plight, as the lid is lifted on the falsehood of Bax’s discoveries, and they once again find themselves fleeing from the authorities, and negotiating a desolate landscape, with nothing to do but play the blame game and reflect on the woefulness of their situation.
The recommencement of incessant bickering between the characters all but nullifies the spirited reunification of last week’s episode. Some of the hostility also seems born out of circumstances we see very little of (e.g. Rick’s accusation that Woody’s repeated insistences to remain together are mere products of the guilt he’s ridden with for leaving Rick in the first episode – though Rick accuses him of it on the one and only occasion of Woody shunning the prospect of them all splitting up). Whilst the strife between its principal characters has always been present in Mad Dogs, here it once again feels like a cursory and unnecessary occurrence, as it did in the first episode with Quinn and Bax’s coming together, and the disunity is somewhat dispiriting in wake of last week’s concluding events.
Rick’s antagonism is rooted in the festering sense of abandonment that’s plagued him for the last two years (well, that and the fact he’s always been a rather inimical chap), and one must presume that the tribal beastie he’s envisioning is a product of the same cause. Eagle-eyed viewers (or merely eyed viewers; it wasn’t that hard to spot, I suppose) will have no doubt caught the glimpse of a book in Rick’s abode, full of images of his bestial tormenter. This rules it out as being an exclusive imagining of Rick’s mind, and lends credence to the notion that it is the infamous South African omen of death; the ‘Dwarf Zombie’. The forebode of death(s) on the horizon it represents is an enticing prospect for the final episode to fulfil. Whether it will is another matter.
Meanwhile, this episode proved the funniest of the run thus far. Watching the lads’ purchased barge float downriver at the back of shot, whilst they remained oblivious, was akin to the sort of skit you might have seen on Mr. Bean – a misfortunate hilarity. Likewise, the playful pugnacity of Mercedes (Jaime Winstone) was the perfect, comical antipode to the quarrelling of Quinn, Woody, Baxter and Rick. Chuck in a bout of ‘masturbation misdirection’, as a slow camera pan downwards reveals what is actually Rick’s futile attempts to cut loose his tag, and you’ve got the greatest helping of comedy this series has managed to dish up.
This episode’s sole downfall is the immediate resurfacing of the lads’ animosity towards one another. It’s a shame Chris Cole hasn’t capitalised on the opportunity to rejuvenate the stale, argumentative dynamic of his main characters.