Mad Dogs: Series 4 Episode 2 (Finale) Review
Reviewed by James Wynne.
Well, if ever an ending was open to interpretation, that was it. A lot happened throughout the course of Mad Dogs‘ final episode, and I’ll get to most of it in due time, but the frantic internet discussions that have no doubt already ensued will be all about that ending, so where better to start this review?
As the credits rolled on the most bizarre conclusion to a television series that I can recall, I imagine most were staring incredulously at their screens for a few seconds, before furiously rewinding, and repeatedly rewatching those last few minutes to try and glean some modicum of sense from it all. Clarity was all but absent, and so it’s up to us lowly fans to theorise what exactly was inferred during those final scenes.
Dominic’s revenge was fulfilled. The lads were gunned down, and the sequence that followed the preparation for their executions was nothing but a depiction of their immediate afterlives. Them driving off in Quinn’s car was a metaphor for the departure of their souls (its eventual flight off the edge of the road could also be interpreted as them vacating this mortal plane), and the reason that Bax glanced himself beneath the Tony Blair mask was because of the self-inflicted nature of their fates, which was discussed just prior to their demise. Rick also briefly turned his gaze towards the masked man in the car, and in all likelihood, saw himself unmasked just as Bax had seen his self.
This might seem an outlandish notion, but then Mad Dogs has never lacked in that regard.
Rick’s hallucinations of the Tokoloshe were clearly a manifestation of his own paranoia, and it was clear from the last episode that Bax, at least, was harbouring some fears that there were still forces pursuing the four of them. After Quinn’s partner was assassinated, a state of paranoid psychosis could have feasibly been triggered, and everything from thereon in was nothing more than a shared hallucinatory experience.
The army of ‘Tiny Blairs’ that were remarkably skilled at hide and seek, and who seemed to pop out of thin air on the beach that was in sight for the entire duration of the lads’ conversation before they were alerted to their own graves being dug, were apparitions manifesting from their fear, in the image of Alvo’s killer, and their sole, similarly guised persecutor that arrived at Quinn’s house.
The whole situation from Series 1 onwards was a nightmare, and so the imagined continuation of it played out similarly, and the lads’ were unable to discern what was reality, and what wasn’t, which lead Quinn to steer them off the edge of the road and to their probable deaths, in an attempt to end it once and for all.
It was just nonsensical madness that had no real, conclusive meaning to it. Mad Dogs has always struck me as being written off the cuff right from the very start, so it’s entirely possible that when crafting that ending, Cris Cole was simply fixated on emulating the definition of that first word in his show’s title. And Mad, it certainly was.
Aside from the speculative possibilities that the ending posed, this finale wasn’t quite the satisfactory denouement to the series that many would have hoped for. In fact, it wasn’t really a denouement at all. It was just another madcap run-around, albeit more ghastly at times than we’ve perhaps been used to.
Carmen’s (Leticia Dolera) demise was effectively harrowing, especially with how her earlier, imparted story had unwittingly foreshadowed it. ‘Wait and see.’ Because the smallest, most dismissible moments can lead to significant ramifications down the line, be they fortunate or unfortunate. Bax reluctantly taking Carmen’s gun upon her insistences inadvertently instigated the fateful circumstances that followed.
The bulk of the episode wasn’t quite as exemplary as some of the individual moments suffused throughout. It was standard Mad Dogs fare, and felt at times a bit too derivative of previous instances in the show’s past. I praised last night’s episode for deftly paying homage to the past without being too imitative of it, but tonight’s was bordering on trite.
The assault on Quinn’s house was exceedingly repetitious of the attack on Alvo’s villa from the first series, with only a few differences to distinguish the two events (e.g. the CIA woman — arguably the barmiest character Cole has concocted — is shot in the head before being run over in front of the gate, unlike Dominic who was only run over and, hence, survived the ordeal). But the similarities are too abundant to avoid the feeling that for its final episode, what we got was, predominantly, just another rehash.
Perhaps contradictory to what I’ve said above, this was still an enjoyable episode to watch. I’m finding it difficult to reach a definitive verdict on it, because on the one hand, as a standalone viewing experience, it was fun; Carmen’s death was painstakingly poignant, and Tiny Blairs’ pursuit of Quinn, Woody, Baxter, and Rick, was fraught with no small degree of suspense. But as a finale to the series as a whole, it brought very little to the table, and offered no admissible closure for those of us who’ve stuck with it since the beginning.