Case Sen­si­tive: The Other Half Lives

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Satur­day, 8.30pm, ABC1 This is the sec­ond two-episode minis­eries in the Case Sen­si­tive crime fran­chise. Shown in Bri­tain in two 50-minute episodes a week apart, the whole 100-minute she­bang runs to­gether tonight. It’s not the best Bri­tish crime se­ries we’ve seen on the ABC but it is far from the worst. We first meet lovers Ai­dan (Theo James, last seen ever so briefly as Ke­mal Pa­muk in Down­ton Abbey) and Ruth (Eva Birthis­tle) in a beau­ti­ful English park. She has laid out a pic­nic. He has gone miss­ing. Ris­ing strings lead us to be­lieve he may have met with foul play, though we don’t yet know whether the Ai­dan she is fran­ti­cally call­ing to is child, man or labrador. Turns out Ai­dan is in­deed the very hand­some James. Af­ter scar­ing the crap out of her (and us) in a boathouse, he goes down on one knee and pro­poses mar­riage. She ac­cepts, even though she is still mar­ried. In the afterglow that fol­lows their love­mak­ing, Ai­dan blurts out that he hurt some­one once and that the woman later died. But he re­coils from his own con­fes­sion, say­ing he doesn’t want to talk about it. Ruth men­tions it to some­one she barely knows in a self-de­fence class, as you do, and this per­son turns out to be se­ries pro­tag­o­nist Char­lie Zailer (Olivia Wil­liams), a hard-nosed de­tec­tive sergeant. She gets in­volved in the case against the wishes of her su­pe­rior of­fi­cer. ‘‘ Our job is to in­ves­ti­gate crimes that have al­ready hap­pened, not to chase up gossip from your Pi­lates class,’’ he barks. Red rag to a bull. The plot thick­ens when Ruth’s for­mer hus­band turns up dead as well. al­most im­pos­si­ble to write about Break­ing Bad with­out giv­ing away spoil­ers. Piv­otal things just keep hap­pen­ing. So let’s just say that early in this sec­ond episode of the fourth sea­son (the sec­ond half of the fifth and fi­nal sea­son is ex­pected later this year on Fox­tel’s Show­case chan­nel), our pro­tag­o­nists Wal­ter (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul) take de­fin­i­tive ac­tion to re­move com­pe­ti­tion from their metham­phetamine (‘‘ice’’) pro­duc­tion op­er­a­tion. There are many tele­vi­sion shows in which a death is just a death, an ex­pe­di­ent plot turn. Ev­ery death in Break­ing Bad — and there are many — is tor­ture for th­ese men. They are not psy­chopaths but each is well on the way to a harder, more fear­less iden­tity. Each death and un­savoury act scars their souls and lines their faces with sor­row. Just watch Paul’s in­ten­sity af­ter the shoot­ing in this episode. He is so stunned by the hor­ror of what he has just done. When Wal­ter — held at gun­point in the room to which Jesse is driven — word­lessly works out what Jesse has done he is at this stage still man enough to be aghast for him. If you are new to Break­ing Bad it will not be dif­fi­cult to pick up the threads at this point. Chem­istry teacher Wal­ter White and his for­mer pupil Jesse Pinkman form an un­easy yet bind­ing al­liance to man­u­fac­ture ice. Wal­ter’s jus­ti­fi­ca­tion is that he needs to sup­ply his fam­ily with funds af­ter his im­pend­ing death from can­cer. Jesse is kind of lost in al­most ev­ery way ex­cept morally. Along the way they en­counter ev­ery imag­in­able hor­ror of the drug busi­ness, from its ruth­less mur­der­ers to its de­cep­tively smooth op­er­a­tors. The ten­sion gen­er­ated by the col­li­sion be­tween Wal­ter’s fam­ily val­ues as a de­cent Amer­i­can hus­band and fa­ther and the mon­ster evolv­ing within him makes for epic TV. It is my firm be­lief that, as it pro­ceeds to­wards a res­o­lu­tion to some of the con­flicts set up in ear­lier sea­sons and in th­ese first episodes, sea­son four of Break­ing Bad is some of the finest, most en­gag­ing TV made. It is not yet too late to board the speed­ing train.

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