Episode Two “Heat”In “Heat”, Marlow agrees to meet with the staff psychiatrist Dr. Gibbon (Bill Paterson). As he is being wheeled to the doctor’s office, we see more of the noir novel play out it in his head. Binney has Sonia (not Amanda) at his home. He is terribly insulting to her, smears her lipstick and proves himself to be a slimy villain.
He callously tells Sonia to take her clothes off but she only responds by holding out her hand and saying, “Give!” This leads to a battle of wills. Binney tries to give £10 but Sonia holds out for £15. The battle continues as he tries to force her to ask nicely, she refuses and (intentionally, I’d say) remains short with him. He slaps her but it is to no avail. Once she gets the money, she shocks him by ripping it to shreds and stuffing it her mouth. Binney is totally taken aback and asks if she’s trying to make him look small.
The “look small” line is repeated as we leave the pulp novel and go back to Marlow who has now reached Dr. Gibbon’s office. Inside the office, he finds a deliberately placed copy of his novel, The Singing Detective. Marlow knows that the novel was put there on purpose and eventually Dr. Gibbon shows up and another battle of wills starts up. Gibbon is trying to get to the root of Marlow’s psychological issues which he feels are contributing to the psoriasis. Gibbon focuses largely on Marlow’s failures as a writer (the doc doesn’t hold pulp in very high regard) and the way sex features in his work.
This allows us to get back to Binney and Sonia who have had some unpleasant sex thus showing Dr. Gibbon’s observation to be true. Binney lights a cigar and menaces Sonia with it. Then he steps to the window and sees two trenchcoated men outside. Those two men had appeared in episode one around the time Binney found a dead agent at Skinskapes. He comments on them and Sonia becomes immediately agitated. She tries to escape, but he won’t let her. She finally head butts him and gets away. (film clip below)
In the next scene, Binney is laughingly telling Marlow (now a noir detective who sings in a nightclub, hence The Singing Detective) about what happened. Binney’s entire demeanor has changed and he is acting very charming and concerned about what happened to Sonia. Marlow knows that there is lots more to the story than what Binney is letting on and isn’t shy about letting him know what he thinks of him. Again, Binney becomes agitated and says he came for help, not to be made to feel small. Feeling small appears to be an issue with him.
Back in the ward, Marlow begins hallucinating about his childhood. Marlow imagines that his bedside neighbor, played with dark (very dark) comic perfection by Charles Simon is crooning Don’t Fence Me In. This takes us to a childhood scene with his parents and grandparents. Marlow’s mother (Alison Steadman) is very much a fish out of water in the rural mining community and argues with the rest of the family. She is desperately unhappy but her husband (Jim Carter) doesn’t seem to want to rock the boat. The arguing reaches a fever pitch and the young Marlow thinks it is his fault.
We see happier moments, though, where his father entertains patrons at the local pub with his wonderful singing. Mrs. Marlow plays the piano but she doesn’t seem to illicit quiet the same level of adoration. However, one person seems to like her very much and that is Raymond, also played by Patrick Malahide. Marlow’s memories also involve the two trenchcoated figures, only now they are villagers. We learn that Marlow’s father is dead but Marlow still has lots of things he’d like to tell his dad.
There are also bizarre scenes of a young Marlow running through the woods. As he runs, he sees a woman having sex in the woods with a man who appears to be Raymond. Marlow is also having trouble with his classmates who have branded him “clever dick” because he is so much more capable of answering the teacher’s questions than they are.
Meet the Wife
Finally we go back to the pulp story. Those two trenchcoated men show up at Binney’s place to tell him that he is in trouble because Sonia’s body has been found. As they go up the stairs they see a nude portrait and pause to insult it and Binney. The scene then goes back to Marlow whose wife is visiting him. She is the woman who young Marlow found in the woods and it looks like she is the inspiration for Binney’s nude portrait. The visit does not go well.