Oh dear. After a shaky start I was hopeful this might improve – and then the flashbacks began.
I presume we aren’t actually going to see anything that proves beyond reasonable doubt that Paul Finchley did any of the things his accusers claim, but we have to endure scenes of an actor who looks vaguely like a young Coltrane looking uncomfortable around an actress playing a caricature of a precocious babysitter.
All of this is seen through the eyes of the young Dee, although it’s fair to say the adult Dee (the very watchable Andrea Riseborough) isn’t the most reliable of witnesses. Is there a more hackneyed shot than the sleeping child opening her eyes as the adult leaves the room, having delivered a whispered confession?
Back to the present, and Dee’s being stalked by the press and sent poisoned pictures on her birthday. I’m not quite clear about her current relationship with the father of her children – when he refers to “we” seeking custody does he mean the two of them, as a couple? If they are to reconcile he might want to stop asking her things like “Are you being a good girl?” (It also might be useful if her mother didn’t hand her wads of cash, given that she’s an addict and all.)
Also unclear is exactly what Paul has told his wife about the allegations and the women making them. “A 15-year-old girl – I couldn’t,” he says. “You know that.” But how would she know what he could and couldn’t do, given he’s been up to all sorts during their marriage? Is she really naive enough to believe that he reported his every indiscretion to her?
The plot thickens further when Paul’s comedy partner claims to envy him because his wife and daughter love him (supposedly) and he was able to muster up a few dozen hangers-on to attend a soiree for the latter (is applauding someone walking into a birthday party actually a thing? What is it supposed to convey? “Well done, you’re not dead yet”?) But then he goes and spoils it all by saying something darkly accusatory like that the Paul Finchley way is to “pretend the mistake didn’t happen”.
Later he attempts some kind of weird proposition of Marie in the kitchen, which the programme-makers felt would be enhanced by having reflected light all over her face. In fact, the distracting lighting doesn’t let up until the episode is over, presumably with the intention of giving the whole thing an “arty” sheen. Given everything that’s going on, perhaps the Finchleys should consider investing in some curtains?