Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer Travel Through TV: Blackpool 1.03

“Somewhere in everything that’s gone wrong, somehow or other, you are always there. What’s the opposite of a lucky mascot? Well, that’s you, that is!”

And we are now approaching the half-way point of the BBC dark comedy, “Blackpool.” Slowly (well, maybe not that slowly…it is only the third episode), Ripley Holden’s personal and professional life continues to unravel. There’s a lot going on in “Blackpool” with plots that feature all of the members of the Holden family, and as difficult as it is for me to say as a major David Tenant fan, the show is really the story of Ripley Holden and his unraveling. All the romances and other intrigue is just icing on the cake. This is Ripley’s story, first and foremost. In this episode, both his children turn against him, and his wife finally consummates her relationship with another man. He also is pretty horrible to both of his best friends, although he tries to make it up to one of them by the end of the episode. It’s really only a half-hearted attempt, though, because Ripley is a pretty terrible person.

We learn at the beginning of the episode in a conversation between Ripley and his accountant that Ripley’s finances are even worse than we thought. The accountant is bugging him about his overdue taxes, and Ripley hands him a stack of cash he had stored in the ceiling of the Lucky Star Arcade office. The accountant says that’s not going to be nearly enough to pay off his liability. They might need to use some of the casino expansion money. There’s just one small problem. Ripley has already used the expansion money to pay for the most recent renovations to the arcade. Ripley basically needs to keep expanding the arcade to pay off the debt he’s already incurred. He’s in a bad situation, and the accountant is not happy about it. To make matters worse, we soon learn that the planning commission has denied Ripley’s request to expand the arcade into a casino hotel. Ripley tells Albright that he’d better do something about it, although Albright swears he has no influence. Ripley tells Albright that it will help if he can finally get Carlisle to stop pursing the Mike Hooley case.

Carlisle, for his part, has been investigating the flats that the Holdens own. He speaks to one of the prostitutes, and he has forensics look at the place. Eventually, he tells Ripley that his team has found forensic evidence tied to Mike Hooley at the flats. Ripley continues to deny everything, and Carlisle and Blythe are at a loss for who exactly in the Holden family is guilty. Carlisle insists, at least, that he knows it can’t be Natalie. Carlisle and Natalie run into each other as Carlisle is leaving the arcade. She takes him to a strange underground aquarium place to talk, and they seem to work out their difference. Natalie is sure she wants Carlisle, and he eventually gets past the “she might be a murderer” thing. They go back to Carlisle’s place, and the resulting love scene feels more violent than romantic. There isn’t any actual violence, but it’s not what I expected based on Carlisle’s fantasy in the previous episode.

Speaking of romance, Shyanne, never one to give up, is a creepy stalker and stops by Steve’s apartment again. They end up getting back together, and they enjoy a lazy evening of sex and pillow talk. Eventually, they decide to get out of bed and go for a walk. I figured this couldn’t possibly end well. I thought Ripley would see them walking and cause a big fuss. Shyanne wants to spend the night at Steve’s place, but he wants her to go home because he has to work the next morning. He basically says it’s one of the hazards of dating an older man. He drops her off at a trolley stop, and she heads home, as he is walking behind an enclosure at the trolley stop, though, Steve is brutally attacked. We don’t see the perpetrator, but of course any viewer would guess that it’s Ripley or somebody doing Ripley’s bidding.

When he’s not shagging Natalie, Carlisle is of course diligently continuing with his investigation. The next step in the investigation involved what was perhaps the silliest scene of the series to date. Carlisle sets Danny up to sell drugs to a fellow police officer. Just as Danny hands the officer the drugs, Carlisle and an impressive amount of back-up arrive on the scene, dancing and snapping their fingers, “West Side Story”-style. Carlisle puts Danny in handcuffs, but he doesn’t actually take him to the precinct. Instead, they have a bit of a talking-to. Carlisle wants Danny to tell more of what he knows about the Mike Hooley murder in exchange for not telling his parents about the drug activity. Danny runs off for now, but thinks are going to get worse for him by the end of the episode.

Ripley is pretty much just being an ass to all of his friends. Ripley drunkenly stops by Terry’s apartment while Terry is having a date. Ripley’s complaining about Albright again, and Terry really just wants Ripley to go home so he can finish his date. Instead, his date goes home in the cab he called for Ripley. The next day, Carlisle confronts Albright about Albright’s financial interest in Ripley’s casino project. This leads Albright to tell Ripley that he’s pulling his investment out of the casino. Ripley, as you would imagine, is not at all pleased about this. He reminds Albright that he doesn’t exactly have money right now to give Albright to effectuate the cash-out. This sequence of events, I think, is what really made me feel like Ripley’s world is falling apart. Even his best friends have abandoned him. Ripley does, at least, attempt to make things right with Terry in his own way. Mostly because, as we know from a conversation he has with the protester in front of the arcade, he thinks doing something good will make his luck change. He talks to Terry’s date and apologizes for how he acted. Of course, we also learn that they (Ripley and the date) have slept together in the past.

Carlisle and Natalie have another rendezvous, but their time in a bubbly tub together is interrupted by a phone call from Shyanne. Natalie meets Shyanne at the hospital and learns about Steve’s rather horrific injuries. Shyanne wants Natalie to confront Ripley about the situation, because she’s convinced Ripley must be behind it. Natalie hesitates, which really angers Shyanne. Natalie does eventually confront Ripley, though, and he swears he had nothing to do with it. Once he’s recovered a bit, Steve tells Shyanne more about his history with Ripley. Ripley was a bully, and one time he left unflattering letters for a bunch of their classmates. Steve’s letter said that Steve was a bully, and Ripley was going to commit suicide because of it. Ripley survived the suicide attempt obviously, but Steve was kind of an outcast for the rest of his school career.

In the afternoon, Natalie notices Danny seems out of sorts. He is sitting at the kitchen table with his head down, and he doesn’t really want to talk about what’s wrong. Eventually, Natalie convinces him to spill, and he tells her that he’s being harassed by the police, particularly DI Carlisle. Natalie marches right down to the precinct, and she is devastated to see that the man she has been falling in love with is actually the police detective who has been harassing her family. She meets up with Carlisle at a café, where they both sing a song about lies. They kiss, and then she walks out on him without ever really confronting him about the lies.

The end of the episode sees a lot of Holden family turmoil and tense conversations. The most important of these conversations is between Danny and Shyanne. Shyanne is convinced that Ripley was behind the Mike Hooley murder and the attack on Steve, and she tells Danny that she hopes somebody eventually turns Ripley in. Danny ends up going to the police station himself, and he confesses to the murder. Albright gave Ripley and Natalie a heads up that Danny was at the precinct and wanted to talk without his parents, so they are both on their way. Carlisle is listening to what Danny is saying, and he doesn’t quite know what to do with it. He doesn’t believe Danny is a murderer, and more importantly, he doesn’t want to hurt Natalie.

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