The Escape Artist: Episode 2 Review
Reviewed by Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.
Last week The Escape Artist premiered with a sensational opener that nicely displayed David Tennant’s capability as an actor. My only misgiving was that it was rather unconvincing in places (Kate’s insouciance when she and Jamie returned to the country cottage) and unfortunately I had the same feelings after episode two. Nonetheless The Escape Artist is still a thrilling, terrifying and gloriously tense series.
After his wife’s brutal murder Will Burton is still a very unhinged man, trying to paste the fragments of his life back together but still hoping for requital. His son Jamie is having night terrors and is becoming more and more uncommunicative although he adjusts back into school surprisingly quickly. David Tennant is on top form as per usual, imbuing Burton with that slight tangibility that is just so endearing. Sitting on my sofa I am as keen for justice as Will is, largely because Foyle is so execrable. Toby Kebbell has crafted a serial killer so abhorrent I struggle watching through scenes where Foyle is present. His manipulation of Eileen was truly gruesome viewing and my heart ached for the poor woman, so terrified and scared into serving this creep. Nonetheless she did seem to be pining for him – I’m looking at that spur-of-the-moment kiss – and I can tell some part of her recognizes Foyle murdered Kate but love overpowers it. Monica Dolan did a splendid job conveying Eileen’s palette of emotions and I commend both Kebbell and Dolan in the confrontation scene in Foyle’s home: truly heart-pounding viewing.
Meanwhile Sophie Okonedo upped her game as the devilish Maggie, a woman so rigid in her goal to outdo Will that she’s actually getting obsessive. She refused to heed Will’s warnings of Foyle and from the spoiler-full (avert your eyes now if you didn’t see the ‘next time’ trailer) preview of next week, it appears her unruffled manner will come back to bite her. Okonedo does a fine job, really, as she makes us hate Maggie and feel worried for her at the same time. I hope I’m not the only one who felt ill at ease when Foyle thrust his hand into her car for a handshake or when Maggie returned to her natty apartment to hear unsettling noises.
What troubles me is how Foyle is getting off the hook so easily. Yes, Will was distressed at the time of his wife’s murder but that sliver of defence up against two witnesses and actual DNA at the crime scene means the whole thing should be an open-and-shut case. To me, it beggared belief just like Will’s carelessness with his son. Jamie’s bedroom is on the bottom floor in the far corner whilst Will’s room is upstairs (allowing some in silhouette shots of Tennant bounding and leaping across the lounge). You could say this is a pedantic niggle but I do expect a level of realism, particularly with a by-the-book courtroom drama. And Will allowed his son to walk through the streets of London (admittedly with a friend); in this day and age you can’t be that incautious.
Another thing I’ve spotted is a lot of heavy symbolism: red balloons, red things in general (coats, tools, implements) and taxis. Black cabs crop up an awful lot in the series. Perhaps I’m scrutinizing too hard but with The Escape Artist, you never know.
Kate’s pregnancy will now spur Will’s vengeance onwards and, speculating from the ‘next time’ trailer, I can see things escalating. Will Burton get retribution? Will Foyle get banged up or worse? And what will become of handshake-happy Maggie?
Another smooth outing from The Escape Artist and we’ve reached the midpoint in the serial. Tennant and Okonedo dish out a couple of meatier performances whilst I can’t help but acknowledge Gus Barry’s very good rendition of Jamie. For a child actor he did a great job given the subject matter. Things can only get better for the Burtons – at least that’s what I hope.