Episode Eight: “Snow Maiden”
Here’s what BBC One said:
Byzantium is ordered to kill Jack Turner, but when the assassination attempt fails, Sam is exposed as a spy, and trapped inside the house. Turner produces the evidence he has against Byzantium’s client, while Sam – secretly being poisoned to death – at last begins to recover terrible memories that explain why the Hourglass conspirators want her dead.
That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Actually, the first… oh, two-thirds or so of this episode were reasonably good, then it took a steep nosedive into terribleness. I must emphasize that none of this was Patrick Malahide’s fault (or even Jack Turner’s). He turned in his usual excellent performance and was one of the few enjoyable bright spots. The problem lies entirely with some of the laziest, clumsiest plot contrivances and worst shoehorned coincidences I can ever remember seeing. I actually didn’t care that Sam’s questions weren’t answered (and they weren’t) because I was so seethingly angry by the end of it. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The Snow Maiden
We start out with an animated version of the Snow Maiden fairy tale that Sam has supposedly been reading to Eddie for the previous seven episodes. A cursory googling reveals that the real story matches Sam’s in very few respects, but whatever. The whole reason we’re getting this is to underline twice, very heavily in red ink, the parallels between the Snow Maiden and Sam. Frank Spotnitz (and the other writers, to be fair) do not want you to miss this important nuance by using any subtlety. The Snow Maiden, whose heart is made of ice, returns a lost little boy to his worried father; her heart melts and she dies, the end. Why it took Eddie eight episodes to read this, I’m not sure. Not a very cheerful story for a boy who’s lost his mother.
A Memorable Birthday Party
The Byzantium Spy Kids’ new plan B – or I think they must be up to “W” or “X” by now – is to assassinate Jack Turner and seize the evidence he has of Polyhedrus’ wrongdoings, which they have belatedly realized never left his office, because Jack Turner is competent. They decide to carry this out by planting a car bomb under Turner’s vehicle, which they will detonate when he leaves Eddie’s birthday party at a local go-cart track. As we’ve seen before, small things like collateral damage and innocent bystander death do not concern them. Seems foolproof, right? What could possibly go wrong? We also get a glimpse of Mysterious Silhouette Girl (Eloise Smyth), whom I will now call Mysterious Plot Contrivance Girl (the reasons for the name change become clear later), as she watches the Turners depart for Eddie’s birthday party.
The party itself is pretty ordinary, for a kid whose grandad is loaded. Eddie zooms around the track while his dad and grandad cheer him on (Jack looks very fetching in an all-black turtleneck, trilby, and overcoat ensemble), and Sam enjoys a flute of champagne offered by an unusually friendly Bingham. Why this doesn’t trigger any sort of caution in her is another complete mystery; she’s Byzantium’s best agent! But she drinks what Bingham offers without the slightest qualm. Of course, Bingham has been given the task of slowly poisoning Sam, begun by Turner in the previous episode’s Most Sinister Tea Service Ever; Jack wants Sam to receive “just enough to slow her down” and keep her associates reassured of her well-being until he’s signed the dam contract from Rahim Soomro.
Thanks to two conveniently inattentive henchmen, Zoe is able to plant the bomb and sneak away undetected. Turner has a chauffeured Range Rover to himself while everyone else is forced to pile into a Jaguar sedan – a bit surprising, since you’d think his son and grandson might be valuable to him. However, Turner throws an unforeseen monkey wrench into the Byzantium Spy Kids’ Well-Coordinated Plan (hah!) when he invites Eddie to ride with him so they can stop for ice cream (because they both need more sugar, natch). Sam tries a couple of rather obvious tactics to wrest Eddie away from his grandad and finally resorts to a twisted-ankle ruse, which has the effect of bringing both of them over to check on her (out of the “kill zone”, as Fowkes portentously narrates), at which point Crane gets antsy and detonates the bomb prematurely. KA-BOOM!!
Turner’s Range Rover and driver are incinerated and we learn later that several bystanders were injured as well, but Byzantium’s primary target is quite hale and hearty, thank you, aside from some rather nasty shrapnel wounds to the side and back of his head, and an arm that’s on fire. Bingham rushes over to check his boss and help remove his burning coat (Turner’s trilby nobly sacrificed itself), while Stephen hangs back well out of the way. (Stephen!! That’s not very nice!!) Turner checks if everyone else is all right (what a gent!) before running back to the Rover to see if his driver can be saved (answer: uhm, no). It’s worth noting that while Aidan survived the explosion of an entire building from mere feet away without so much as a scratch, Turner (as the nominative villain) is given obvious and rather gruesome head wounds. Double standard much?
Everyone immediately returns to Chez Turner and Bingham transforms it into a well-armed and guarded fortress while Turner nips into the kitchen for some self-administered first aid (one of my favourite scenes of this episode). “You should go to hospital, Dad,” says Stephen, who has suddenly become concerned again. “Naaah,” replies Turner, as he applies a compress to the back of his head; he’s a very tough old bird. He even inquires about Sam’s ankle (so polite!) before joking with Eddie, “That’s the best fireworks display you’ll ever see… It’s a good job your presents were in the other car!” Only a mobster grandad… could joke about a car bomb that way, and attempt to normalize it for his grandson. Turner suggests Eddie might like to open his presents in the library now, as a sort of encore, but really as more of a distraction tactic; he doesn’t permit himself an indrawn hiss of pain until Eddie’s out of the room.
Nearing End Game
Everyone seems oddly calm about the whole thing, and no one inquires why or how such a thing would have been done, until Stephen’s alone with his father and asks, “What happened back there?” Turner replies, in calm, conversational tones, “Somebody tried to kill me, obviously,” while matter-of-factly spraying Bactine onto the burned backs of his hands. He doesn’t seem perturbed or frightened in the slightest. “This is all about the dam, isn’t it,” says Stephen, with a fine grasp of the obvious. “It’s game over, Stevie,” answers Turner, “No one gets me again. We’ve won.” Stephen wants to remove Eddie from the situation immediately, but Turner refuses to consider it: “Inside this house is the safest place on earth until that contract’s signed.” Stephen then points out that Sam saved Jack’s life; Jack counters, “She saved the boy,” and logically notes that the only way she could have done it is by knowing the bomb was there in the first place.
More Byzantium Spy Kids Antics
Back at Byzantium Spy Kids HQ, we have some truly execrable dialogue to recap the situation: “The moment she saved that boy’s life, she sentenced herself to death,” intones Deacon ominously. “Then why’d she do it? Thought Sam had ice in her veins,” replies Fowkes. Oww!! It’s almost physically painful, it’s so clunky!! You can see the underlining! “We need to get her out of there, Deacon,” says Aidan, in a variation of a line he’s uttered (woodenly) at least once per previous episode, if not two or three times; it seems like more. Then Deacon almost beats up Aidan for bugging him too much about losing Hasan (did they really like him that much?) and my hopes started to go up, but Keel arrives, making an unusual field trip to his operatives’ location, and breaks it up like a teacher interrupting a school cafeteria food fight. They all hash over what to do next and try to figure out how to remove Turner’s evidence and Sam (whom Aidan reiterates is Keel’s “best operative” – haaaah!! It’s like if he says it enough, it’ll become true or the audience will start to believe it) to “complete the op”.
Fowkes then complains that Sam isn’t doing enough to get the case. “Next time, why don’t you strap on a bra and try being Sam?” retorts Zoe, in one of the most completely nonsensical rejoinders I’ve ever heard. Who writes this crap?? Let’s break it down, shall we?
- I highly doubt any woman would actually say this, for starters.
- Wearing the right kind of bra makes you Byzantium’s Best Operative™?
- Does she keep screwing up because she’s wearing the wrong sort of bra?
- Maybe she should go without.
- Maybe Fowkes will try it sometime and decide he really likes it. Won’t you look foolish then, Zoe!
- And finally, there’s more than a whiff of Mary Sue syndrome going on. Sadly, this gets worse as the episode progresses.
Anyway, the Byzantium Spy Kids come up with Brilliant Plan “X”, which is to send Aidan into Turner’s house as part of Rahim Soomro’s security detail, whereupon he’ll get his hands on Turner’s evidence in some unspecified way and destroy it in some unspecified way. Without the evidence, Turner “loses” and Byzantium’s client “wins”. What could possibly go wrong?
Back at Chez Turner, Bingham has been diligently administering the drug to Sam’s drinking water, and Sam has been unsuspectingly drinking it. (Byzantium’s best operative, everyone!) Even the fact she’s feeling unwell and threw up that morning is apparently not enough to tip her off that she’s being drugged. She’s also being anxiously watched from across the road by Mysterious Plot Contrivance Girl.
Interlude for Hitman and Hitlady
We next have an amusing, if too short, interlude with Blankie dropping in on Orla Fante at a bar. She immediately tries to grab for a knife (he’s faster) then shows him she’s got a gun in her purse. Obviously it’s love at first sight. They seem fairly equally skilled and have a brief verbal sparring match: “Byzantium might have disappointed my employers, but I won’t,” says Orla, and Blankie answers, “Then one of us will walk away from this, and one won’t.” The scene has a bit of a gunslinger showdown vibe, and it’s kind of a shame it’ll never come to fruition. Ultimately it ends up serving no purpose whatsoever, plotwise.
Stephen Discovers a Plot Contrivance
Meanwhile, Stephen receives an anonymous note (sealed with a flower sticker, no less) asking him to meet the sender outside. He does, and it’s Mysterious Plot Contrivance Girl, who is about to fulfill her name. She’s rather obviously mentally unstable – her arms show cuts and scars from self-harm (why it was necessary to include this detail, only Frank Spotnitz knows) – and she’s worried she’ll be seen talking to Stephen, but she does manage to tell him that his wife was murdered by Bingham and Tyrone, with the latter drowning her in the back garden pool (how Plot Contrivance Girl saw this when her room seems to face the front of the house is rather puzzling). She didn’t tell anyone at the time (further fulfilling her name), but she’s telling Stephen now because she’s seeing the same pattern starting with Sam – first the drugging, then the drowning. Stephen can’t believe it at first, but then decides it must be true and that Jack is responsible for his wife’s death, and wants to kill Sam as well.
More Slow Poisoning (it’s very slow)
While this is going on, Sam is writhing around on her floor in agony (not calling for an ambulance or anything, which, gee… might get her out of the house!) when she finally realizes her drinking water might be drugged, after she’s already swilled down glass after glass. Amazing!! Despite being nearly unable to move with pain a moment before, she nonetheless goes downstairs for another snooping trip into Jack’s office. Now that she knows where to look(!), she discovers a hidden wall compartment containing the Mysterious Briefcase™. She’s almost caught red-handed by Bingham, but Deacon, who is watching the whole thing on surveillance, dials Bingham’s cell (is Bingham’s number listed?) to warn Sam of his approach. She covers her presence in the library by saying she was there to get Eddie’s things. Personally, I was rather disappointed she wasn’t busted then and there.
Meeting Dad’s Other Son, or the Worst Plot Twist Ever
Stephen, who seems to have little sense of self-preservation, decides to confront Tyrone and heads off to the late Dave Ryder’s (R.I.P. Dave!) pub to find him. I must note here that in keeping with the Villain Injury Double Standard noted above, Tyrone’s face still shows obvious bruises and gashes from his last set-to with Fowkes, whereas say, Sam’s or Aidan’s faces would not, and never have, shown any visible injuries after fights. Stephen demands to know if Tyrone murdered his wife; Tyrone replies that whether he did or didn’t, he wouldn’t tell Stephen. He complains that he’s “living in a shitty dump” (Turner doesn’t pay him well? seems very short-sighted) while Stephen’s “up at the big house with the old man”. He then snipes at Stephen for thinking himself better than him, adding, “I’m a better son to him than you’ll ever be.” This is meant to be literally, rather than metaphorically, true. And this… is where the nosedive begun with Plot Contrivance Girl really begins to pick up speed.
This has got to be the Stupidest, Most Useless Plot Twist Ever. It serves no purpose, other than to establish Turner as a racist with a bastard son, and thereby emphasize his utter Evilness so we will presumably root harder for his downfall. It is completely unnecessary and so shoehorned in it’s almost painful. I could’ve bought it if Tyrone was speaking metaphorically of being the better son; Stephen might even have been jealous of his father having a better relationship with his top thug rather than his own flesh and blood. I could also see Turner being a sort of “mentor” to Tyrone in thugdom (heck, Tyrone has proven numerous times that he’s far better at planning “ops” and taking down targets than the Byzantium Spy Kids). But that would have required some subtlety, and as we’ve already seen, Spotnitz does not do subtlety. Instead, the plot twist gets really heavy-handed as the unacknowledged, “wrong colour”, illegitimate son is written as the one who kills the innocent wife of the innocent, legitimate son, on the orders of the Evil Father. It does nothing to advance the plot, except give Stephen more of a reason to leave, but he already has more than ample reasons if you count Jack’s myriad other deeds. As our fearless Admin has noted, nor do we have any previous character interactions between Jack and Tyrone that might have established some plausible basis for this. In short, it’s a plot point that’s so far out of left field and so stupid it’s infuriating!
Final Meeting with Soomro
In the meantime, Turner has his long-anticipated meeting with Soomro to finalize the dam contract. He’s cleaned himself up (someone – maybe Bingham?? – has even tacked some surgical (we hope) staples into his scalp, since it’s doubtful he’d have nipped off to the nearest A&E clinic) and is wearing an especially festive blue-striped shirt, white polka-dotted navy tie, and pinstriped three-piece suit. At least he dresses for the occasion. Soomro (with Aidan the Wooden in tow) challenges Turner to bring out his evidence, saying he won’t sign until it’s been confirmed. Turner goes over to the hidden compartment, opens it (!! I don’t think he’d ever actually do that in front of witnesses), and brings forth the Mysterious Briefcase™. I suppose I should mention that just prior to the meeting, Sam is subdued by Bingham (she’s so weak she can’t even take on two security guards, as opposed to her usual ten!) and fed another dose of the drug. Inexplicably, Bingham still takes the time to mix it with water instead of just administering it straight.
Turner believes he’s on the brink of triumph. He declares that the Pakistani villagers were not killed by hydrogen sulfide gas as the result of a natural seismic event, but by Polyhedrus spraying it into the air, and that Horst Goebel’s sediment samples will prove it. They are “unique as a fingerprint” and will provide incontrovertible proof of Polyhedrus’ guilt, because they contain no traces of hydrogen sulfide whatsoever. He offers one sediment sample to Soomro, confidently saying, “Go ahead, analyze it,” while keeping one for himself; he’s still being very shrewd about the whole thing. He invites Soomro to wait, and Aidan the Wooden rushes off with the case. Apparently while-u-wait geological/chemical analysis labs are a common thing.
Final Father/Son Confrontation
Stephen has since returned from experiencing the Stupidest, Most Useless Plot Twist Ever and unsurprisingly demands a meeting with his father. Jack gloats at first, saying he’s got Soomro “shitting himself”, and exulting that he’s “hurt them, badly”. Stephen asks why his father has gone to so much trouble when he really doesn’t care that much about water rights or the dam; Turner tries to deflect the question at first, then replies quietly, “Justice.” And here we have simultaneously a great moment of acting by Patrick Malahide and the Second Worst Plot Twist Ever. The combination is somewhat headache-inducing.
Turner tells Stephen that while he was clawing his way up the ladder and acquiring property in the docklands, he was threatened by Polyhedrus, and when he wouldn’t back down, they took John and “cut his poor body to pieces”. Jack had the two men directly responsible killed, but “it wasn’t a man” who gave the ultimate order; if it had been, he’d have killed him and his entire family. Instead, it was Polyhedrus, and Jack declares, “If I couldn’t kill a man, I’d bloody well kill a corporation.” It’s taken him “the best part of twenty years” (?? Stephen’s in his thirties and Jack Jr. was murdered relatively recently – seems like the timing is way off), but he’s finally done it – and his moment of triumph is well played by Malahide. However… John’s having been killed at Polyhedrus’ order is yet another “surprise” plot point that Spotnitz pulls in from left field, with nothing established in the previous seven episodes to support it at all! Maddening! So clumsy!
Stephen reminds Jack that John’s still dead, and drops the Carefully Crafted Plot Twist Bombshell that he’s spoken to Jack’s other son, “the one you won’t admit to because his skin’s the wrong colour – the one you had murder my wife.” Turner looks uncomfortable for a moment or two but doesn’t deny any of it, then finally says in tacit admission, “His name’s Tyrone, and he’s always been loyal… He’s never crossed me.” Apparently the reason Jack had Stephen’s wife killed was because she would have taken Stephen and Eddie away from Jack, and “destroyed this family”. Stephen then leaves in disgust while Jack plaintively calls after him: “Stevie…” I’m sure it’s meant to be poignantly ironic (or ironically poignant) that in trying to keep the family together, Jack utterly destroyed it himself, but it doesn’t quite come across that way.
Terrible Soap Opera (and it started out so well!)
What it does come across as is a particularly terrible soap opera, written by someone suffering from Acute Over-Cleverness Syndrome. Jack is a corporate raider and gangster; it would have been more than enough motivation for him to want to acquire the dam simply to make a huge pile of cash. After “Kismet”, I figured it was likely he specifically wanted the dam so he could engineer a huge disaster and make an even bigger pile of cash. Such a man inevitably attracts enemies, and again, no elaborate explanation was really needed for John’s death. Besides, if Polyhedrus wanted to get rid of Jack that badly, why didn’t they just kill him instead of John? It’s not like they’re squeamish. And considering that Turner is a huge fan of the direct approach and corporations are, after all, run by people, why wouldn’t Jack simply track down every single person responsible for issuing the order to kill John and have the highly capable Tyrone bump them off one after the other? Surely he’d find that a quite satisfying and far more permanent form of revenge.
Add to this… how does Turner’s acquiring the dam really damage Polyhedrus that badly? Sure, they lose out on the contract, but if they’re a huge multi-national it’s likely a drop in the bucket (pun not intended) for them. Would it really ruin them financially? And if the Pakistani government ever decided to re-nationalize the dam, wouldn’t Turner be out of luck anyway, contract or no contract? And couldn’t he have done a lot more longer-lasting damage by just going public with Goebel’s evidence in the first place? He’d have looked like a hero.
But no, Spotnitz instead opts for an overly cute, too elaborate method of tying everything together into a rather badly rendered little bundle of coincidences so far-fetched and stupid that even Dickens would reject them, and Dickens liked terrible soaps and intricate coincidences. Spotnitz provides elaborate explanations for questions that didn’t need answering, drops a bunch of “gotcha” surprise plot points for character motivations that should have been explained or at least hinted at in the previous episodes to have even the slightest credibility, and ends up shoehorning Turner and Stephen into an ultimately meaningless side plot which is an utter waste of both Malahide’s and Campbell Moore’s considerable talents as actors. This is why I say it’s like a terrible soap! Good soaps make at least nominal sense and are fun; the previous seven episodes were examples of this. This is a bad soap. And quite frankly, the whole “Turner had Stephen’s wife killed” was yet another soapy plot point that really didn’t fly for me, especially when you lump in that he had his illegitimate, biracial son do the killing. It cheapens what was for me a key element of Turner’s character: his deep attachment to and love for his family. What did this do for the story as a whole? Nothing. It was easier to accept the assassination of Rafi the Rabbit as a valid plot point.
Analysis Results on Turner’s “Ace in the Hole”
Sigh. Back to the story. Byzantium apparently has a while-u-wait analysis lab (convenient!) and while waiting for results on the sediment sample, Fowkes picks that moment to get ill-advisedly chatty with Keel, saying he “really enjoys” the job (what the hell?? all the killing and bombing and fighting??) and is grateful to have been given a chance. Keel eyes him wordlessly and says nothing, lobster-style. Guess whose performance review is going to be bumped up? However, it’s a sign of shell shock and desensitization from what’s gone before that I couldn’t figure out if this was intended as a (badly timed) moment of comic relief, or a serious conversation.
Aidan the Wooden returns to Chez Turner with the results, which the Byzantium Spy Kids do not seem panicked by. He whispers them to Soomro, who smiles at the expectant-looking Jack and says abruptly, “Goodbye, Mr. Turner.” Jack’s expectant look turns to surprise as Soomro says he won’t be signing the contract. “You think I won’t go public with this?” asks Turner. Soomro replies that the Polyhedrus shareholders are unlikely to be “interested in a tube of dirt,” and informs a badly shaken Turner that the tube contains only nitrogen fertilizer. “You’ve been had,” Soomro adds, “and so have I.” He makes a grand exit as Turner stands stunned. The viewers realize Blankie tampered with the case while it was in his possession. And here we have the Third Worst Plot Twist.
Waaaaaay back in episode one, Turner made a big point of telling Dave Ryder that the Mysterious Briefcase™ was worth “a few million quid” and contained his “future”. If it was that important to him – and it was, since he was willing to sacrifice Dave for a decoy – why didn’t he do two things right off the bat?
- Check Horst Goebel’s appearance and ID before ever meeting him face-to-face. Turner is a cautious crimelord and Bingham is a cautious majordomo. This could have/should have been done. Heck, Stephen should have suspected Goebel was an imposter from the information Sam gave him in the previous episode, and could have/should have tipped off his dad that something was up.
- Check the sample. As I said, Turner’s a cautious crimelord. Why would he stake so much on a pig in a poke? If it’s worth millions and his “future”, why wouldn’t he have it analyzed himself? It’s not like he’s worried about the cost. For that matter, why didn’t he demand proof from Soomro?
Going Out with a Bang(?)
Gah!! So Turner’s in shock, believing that not only has he lost the dam contract, he has utterly failed to exact the vengeance for his son’s death that was twenty years in the making. His next move is straight out of the Supervillain Handbook. He orders Bingham to “clear the house… everybody except… Alex Kent.” Bingham does so and there’s frantic activity outside while Turner goes over to his Supervillain Control Panel and activates the metal shutters on his entire house. It’s visually impressive, but I’m not sure why he did this unless it was to create the dark, murky atmosphere so annoyingly adored by “Hunted’s” cinematographers. I thought at first that it was in preparation for blowing the joint sky-high, a spectacular ending for him I could have accepted, instead of what we did get.
A Cross Between Mary Sue and Rasputin
Turner proceeds to meticulously hang up his jacket and neatly roll up his sleeves (he’s such a tidy criminal!) on his way to Sam’s room. It must be said that he makes quite a terrifying stalker, prowling through his house with his intent written all over his face; he’s been denied all other forms of revenge, but he won’t be denied this. He runs a bath, picks Sam up, dumps her in, and proceeds to hold her under the surface one-handed. Sam struggles and thrashes a bit (you’d think she’d breathe in some water) and at last goes still. Of course, it’s being blatantly telegraphed that viewers are meant to hearken back to her amazing breath-holding skills from episode one! And here we have the Fourth Worst Plot Twist, Over-Used Plot Device (faked death), Mary Sue Syndrome, and Stupid Coincidence (convenient breath-holding practice) combined, because Turner becomes convinced that he’s drowned Sam.
Turner’s (Badly Written) Comeuppance
Turner leaves the bathroom for a bit of a breather after that, neatly drying his hands and leaning over the banister – maybe he’s contemplating some really creative comeback revenge on Polyhedrus, a nice cup of tea, or perhaps a trip to the West Indies, we’ll never know – but at any rate, he inexplicably fails to hear splashing behind him as not-dead Sam climbs out of the tub. He turns around just in time to see she’s still alive as she heaves him over the banister, and he falls a couple of storeys to his nice, shiny floor and dies. Apparently Sam has a lot in common with Rasputin; she was drugged all day to the point of being greatly weakened and was just pretty much drowned, but she still isn’t dead. Add to these factors that she maybe weighs 100 to 110 pounds soaking wet (which she is), yet she still has the strength to knock the much heavier Turner over his higher-than-waist-height banister without so much as a struggle. Mary Sue much, Spotnitz? What a completely unsatisfying cheat of an ending, and a waste of a great character! This really made me angry.
Then Some Other Stuff Happened
With Turner dead in such a stupid and pointless fashion, I rather lost interest in the final fifteen minutes. To cut an already long story short, Zoe’s forced by Orla into betraying Sam, but it’s all a swerve as Sam fakes her own death (yet again!! Tired plot device!!) and goes back to Scotland, where she’s reunited with her not-dead baby. Before all of that, she bids goodbye to Stephen and Eddie in some more heavy-handed reinforcing of the Snow Maiden parable, which I was so fed up with by this time. She also bids goodbye to Aidan the Wooden, having apparently forgiven him for that whole ratting-her-out-to-MI6 thing. Big of her.
The Real Ending
I have unilaterally decided that the story actually ends with Turner leaning over the banister. He sues for custody of Eddie and gets it, because Stephen is unemployed and has no marketable skills since he’s always worked for his father. Turner and Eddie jet off to the West Indies with Bingham, who has to invest in tropical turtlenecks. Sam stays dead. Byzantium is pushed out of business by Tyrone’s far more successful company. Orla and Blankie run off together.
What Did Byzantium Really Achieve?
The really terrible part – aside from the horrible soap elements – is that none of Turner’s downfall is due to the actions of Byzantium at all. They never actually succeeded in any of their “ops”, save placing Sam in the Turner household in the first place. The only thing that brought him down was the fact that Blankie (a free agent, as far as we know) switched the samples in the Mysterious Briefcase™; otherwise, Turner was two steps ahead of everyone the entire time (and I still say he would have checked those samples!). Byzantium might as well have not been there for the whole thing; the outcome would ultimately have been the same. That the outcome satisfied Polyhedrus’ demands was only by pure accident. Rather a waste of Polyhedrus’ money, don’t you think? And rather pointless for the viewer when the putative protagonists can’t even solve their own dilemma.
The Best Parts (there were a few)
So, what did I like? I really enjoyed Turner pre- and post-explosion, especially his tough self-doctoring and car bomb bravado in front of Eddie. I liked his utter confidence and assurance that he’d finally defeated Polyhedrus, and gloating over his win. I thought Malahide effectively portrayed his grief at John’s death and single-minded search for revenge, and I liked his creepy meticulousness and neatness when he set out to drown Sam.
As a matter of fact, I greatly enjoyed Patrick Malahide’s performance throughout the entire series. He was the only reason I kept watching. He made Turner a charismatic, tough, menacing, thoroughly dangerous crimelord, yet with an element of humour, appeal (those smiles!), and devoted love for his family that made him compelling. He far outshone his material, and the same can be said of Stephen Campbell Moore and Tom Beard (Bingham grew on me). And of course, Malahide did great justice to what had to have been one of the loudest, yet still attractive and flattering wardrobes a crimelord ever wore.
If you feel you really must, you can watch “Snow Maiden” online for a limited time on BBC One’s Web site.