A blistering (and at times very bloody) double bill brought series two of The Hour to a close, with reputations rescued or ruined – and in the case of Freddie, a severe kicking that serves as the cliff-hanger for a potential third series.
Episode five largely revolved around chasing the ongoing scoop and trying to find links and proof of corruption between the Castle Corp company, Tufnell Engineering’s MOD contract and the El Paradis Club blackmail epidemic that’s enveloped the police and the government.
The episode climaxed with a raid on the club led by Commander Stern who, in trying to salvage some of his reputation, was beginning to dither between good and evil. Never before have so many influential people been seen running from an illicit nightclub hiding their faces from blinding 1950’s flashbulbs, and in an attempt to discredit The Hour, the government pushed all the scandal onto Hector.
Except Hector faced the scandal with a bit of backbone – it was his photo on the front of all the papers the next day, but he faced it with his chin held high and a ‘oh well, the worst is over’ shrug. This ended ITV’s interest in him, but I don’t think Hector would be suited to the ‘panel shows’ mentioned in the small print of his contract anyway.
Marnie’s fledgling cookery career was also put on hold for a few weeks (not just by association, she was also at the club when it was raided), but she had some smart retorts to the ITV execs, hinting at their own presence there too.
The tension mounted therefore as the team had to put a show together to expose the whole tale. In a cinema, during an awful sci-fi movie, Freddie managed to persuade showgirl Kiki to appear on the show – Bel also chipped in when she wavered (‘Miss Ramirez wanted to help us too’), but by then Freddie was getting his face rearranged by Cilenti and his goons.
This was actually a weak point in the story: Freddie helped Kiki escape at the cinema and could have actually gone with her to the safety of the BBC studios. Did he fancy playing the hero? It did mean that Hector had to interview Kiki, and she spilled the beans magnificently, naming names and implicating everyone she could think of. For Cilenti, this meant an arrest, for Stern, this meant blowing his brains out in the back of his car, and for government minister Satchell this meant his naming and shaming (and one would assume resignation) due to his involvement in insider trading.
Some people saw their reputations saved or enhanced, even slippery government spin doctor McCain played his cards well, helping the journalistic team (after some gentle persuasion from Randall) and suggesting that he was going to give up looking after politicians to reinvent himself as a PR guru.
The series ended with a battered and bloodied Freddie lying outside the Lime Grove studios whispering for Bel (‘Moneypenny’). They’d snogged, at last, earlier in the episode, so it was probably safe to assume that something horrible was going to happen to one of them.
So, will The Hour survive? The viewing figures haven’t been great, so series three hangs in the balance. Series two was a little uneven, as it chugged along for four episodes then had a seismic plot explosion over the last two. But the acting’s been terrific and the whole thing looks so damn good, with those responsible for sets and costumes deserving a special mention, that I want to spend more time in their company. Let’s hope the BBC drama department feel the same.
Final thoughts/things that just bug me:
- I still think the story line was a bit tagged on, but the Capaldi/Chancellor acting masterclass continued – it was heartbreaking twice, once in a pub when they comforted each other over the wrong adoption file, then in the final episode when they discovered the daughter they had given up had been killed in a wartime air raid.
- Isaac’s play was broadcast, and in a nice touch was complete with a Bel soundalike barking orders.
- Marnie announced her pregnancy to Hector, who had confessed to Bel his inability to have children. Who’s the daddy?
- Why are the streets always so empty of cars and people? Was London really that deserted in 1958?