Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Summer Travel Through TV: Blackpool 1.05

“So what made you happier? That you got off the hook or that you made a fool out of Carlisle?”

This episode of “Blackpool” put me through quite the emotional wringer, mostly because David Morrissey is a fantastic actor. I kind of loathe Ripley, because he’s a terrible person, but I can’t help feeling at least a bit sorry for him by the end of the episode. Morrissey just makes you feel Ripley’s devastation at his life being torn apart, piece by piece. Ripley loses his treasured arcade, and his relationship with Natalie has also reached the breaking point. Natalie and Carlisle’s silly little affair drama seems inconsequential compared to what Ripley goes through in this episode other than the fact that the affair is one of the things that drives Ripley to the brink. Seeing Ripley hit rock bottom is some powerful stuff, and it’s an example of why I recommend “Blackpool” in spite of the silly musical numbers.

We begin the episode with Carlisle leading a police raid of the Holden home set to “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” In the heightened reality section of the musical number, Ripley and Carlisle get into a pool fight, with each trying to dunk the other. Natalie ends up giving Ripley something of an alibi, telling Carlisle that she picked him up from the arcade at 4:00 AM. As a result, the police take some evidence with them, but they make no arrests. Ripley is extremely proud of Natalie for standing up for him in this way. He’s practically giddy with how happy her deception has made him. The glow doesn’t last for long, though. Ripley and Natalie later have a big argument at the arcade. Natalie is pretty convinced now that Ripley did not murder Mike Hooley, but Ripley is pissed off that she ever doubted him.

Ripley also still has the Shyanne and Steve situation to deal with. Ripley pays a visit to Steve at the theater where he works, and this time he tries a new tactic to get Steve to stay away from Shyanne. He apologizes for what he did to Steve when they were kids, figuring that Steve is just continuing to date Shyanne as payback. Steve doesn’t take the bait – he appears to truly love Shyanne. In the course of this conversation, we learn that Ripley didn’t send the bullying letter to Steve for any particular reason. Apparently he just chose six boys in his class at random to torment before the suicide attempt. Ripley basically explains it as, if he was going to go out, he was going to do it in a way that people would never forget him. Steve basically just stares at Ripley like he’s nuts. Which is pretty accurate, I think.

Ripley’s financial troubles continue to get worse in this episode. He has a big argument with his accountant over the tax bill, but eventually Ripley agrees to a second mortgage on his house. Ripley pays a visit to Hailey, the main prostitute over at the flats. She finally tells him the whole story (that she knows) about Mike Hooley. Basically, he dropped dead in her room and Danny helped her move the body (which we pretty much already knew). When Ripley inquires about how she knows Danny, Hailey says he was her drug supplier. Basically, he makes speed in the local high school chemistry lab. Ripley isn’t especially pleased to hear this, and he has a long chat with Danny to try and get him back on the right path. He tells Danny that this is the perfect opportunity to turn his life around and reinvent himself. He doesn’t have to change his name like Ripley did, but he can take his life in a more positive direction.

Outside the arcade, Carlisle tries to convince Hallworth, the perpetually protesting vicar, to testify that he saw Ripley after the time at which Natalie claims she gave him a ride home. Hallworth refuses. Further, Blythe is really pissed off at Carlisle, because he believes at this point Carlisle is more interested in hurting Ripley than seeking justice. Natalie is also facing a crisis of conscience. She is packing stuff up to leave Ripley, but she hides the suitcase when Ripley arrives home. To make things even more complicated, Ripley gives a big speech about how he’s lucky he will always have Natalie and the kids. A little bit later, Natalie runs into Carlisle on her way to Samaritans. He tells her that he’s withdrawing from the Mike Hooley case because he loves her.

While she’s at Samaritan’s Natalie has a brief phone conversation with Shyanne about getting Ripley’s approval for the wedding. Shyanne decides to go for the approval in person. She and Steve pay Ripley a visit, and it doesn’t go at all as she hoped. At first, it seems like Ripley might finally relent, because he starts offering to pay for all sorts of aspects of the wedding. When Shyanne and Steve accept his offer, though, Ripley turns it around and says that they just want his money, not his approval. Ultimately he says “no” to giving Shyanne and Steve is blessing, and Steve says that for the first time, he feels sorry for Ripley. He hasn’t really changed at all from the scared bully of a little boy. Ripley is in an especially bad mood after this, and when he gets to the arcade, he sees that his staff has some of the guys who were trying to cheat the machines pinned to the ground. Ripley almost beats the scammers with bats, but Hallworth stops him.

Carlisle plays creepy stalker again, and he manages to catch her as she’s leaving her Samaritan’s shift. He makes a bit speech about how much he loves her, and it ends in a kiss. Natalie has let her guard down again. I guess I don’t blame her. If David Tennant was proclaiming his love to me, I’d probably kiss him too. Carlisle and Natalie end up back in his hotel room again, and when they’re post coital, Carlisle asks Natalie to leave Blackpool with him. Natalie hesitates because, you know, her kids, one of whom is still a minor, live in Blackpool, but Carlisle implores her to think of herself for once. Eventually, Natalie agrees.

At the arcade, things continue to go from bad to worse for Ripley. The accountant tells him that he only got $50,000 from the second mortgage, and the tax bill is $100,000. The accountant offers to buy the arcade – since he would just be buying the debt, it’s not like it would cost much. Ripley blows a gasket at this. He declares that he’s lucky, and to a musical interlude of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” he goes to the roulette wheel at a nearby casino and bets the entire $50,000 on red. Of course, the wheel lands on black, because Ripley is a dumbass. An utterly defeated Ripley gives his accountant the arcade. Ripley is a terrible person, but I almost feel sorry for him, because it gets even worse when he goes home. At home, Ripley notices that a family photo is moving. This leads him to find Natalie’s packed suitcase.

Ripley goes back to the arcade and calls Natalie at Samaritans. He talks about how she has betrayed him, and she thinks he’s talking about the affair. He clarifies that he’s actually talking about how the accountant told him that Natalie has put the flats in a trust for the kids. Natalie almost gives away the fact that she’s been having an affair, but she manages to get it together to make it through the rest of the phone call. After the call, she completely breaks down in tears. Ripley decides to start following her, and he follows her all the way to Carlisle’s hotel, where Natalie breaks it off with Carlisle. Carlisle doesn’t take it well at all, and he’s pretty much an ass to Natalie.

After Ripley continues to follow Natalie for a little while, he heads back to the arcade, where he talks to Hallworth about how his father used to quote Bible verses before beating him. I guess that helps explain a little bit why Ripley is the way he is. Then he barges into the arcade and kicks everybody out. Back at the Holden home, Natalie lets Shyanne and Danny in on a bit of what’s going on, and Danny expresses some concern that Ripley might try to hurt himself again. This definitely seems like a possibility, because as this episode fades to black, Ripley has just kicked everyone out of the flats before reentering the building with a full gas can and a cigar.

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