Patrick Malahide as John Poole in Five Days S01E03

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Five Days S01E03

Admin: Five Days S01E03, is called Day Twenty Eight so everyone is now giving up hope that Leanne is alive.  Barbara, who is helping Matt out, blames John (and Matt also) for giving up hope.  It is clear John is starting to unravel; she mentions that he isn’t going out much and how badly he needs a haircut.  For a smartly styled, outgoing man like John that is likely sign of depression.  But, he did make a pretty spiffy birthday cake for Matt.  Ethan is impressed by it.

Clever Granddad baked a cake.

Clever Granddad baked a cake.

RF:  Unfortunately, Barbara’s still very much the same person we saw in the previous episodes.  After mentioning that John won’t even leave the house, Barbara’s dialogue to Matt is again all “me”-centric:  “Don’t.  Please don’t lose it now, I need your support.  I can’t have you caving in on me, too.”  It’s all about how John’s depression is causing her to have problems, not the fact that he’s depressed.  Maybe it’s not such a surprise that John wanted to opt out of the party.  Barbara also manages to blurt out in front of the kids that the police believe Leanne’s dead; they obviously hear her, but she tries to gloss over it as though it never happened.  Grrrr!

At the Hair Salon

She's a chatterbox.

She’s a chatterbox.

Admin: John Poole is finally getting his haircut, and Barbara wasn’t kidding; he is pretty shaggy. The hairdresser is a sweet, chatty type but not knowing who he is makes an unintentionally callous comment by laughing about how her father spends her inheritance on his holidays. John bluntly, but with some politeness, asks her not to talk to him. At that point another hairdresser calls her over and tells her who he is.

She's been called away

She’s been called away

RF:  John’s really shaggy, the poor fellow.  🙁  He’s also visibly uncomfortable sitting in the chair and barely holding it together, especially when the hairdresser mentions she’s her father’s “only daughter”.  It’s too much to take and I can’t blame him for asking her not to talk to him.   Of course, John overhears the other hairdresser revealing who he is, which just racks up his tension and discomfort.  There’s a nice bit of wordless acting by Mr. Malahide as we see him struggle with his reaction before deciding he just has to get out of there.

Admin: Absolutely, the look on his face shows that he knows exactly what is going to happen next.  Even though they mean well, he is in no state to handle them right now.

Admin: The girl is very distressed and starts crying and apologizing. He is kind and understanding, telling her she wasn’t to know, but she runs off in a state. In a resigned fashion he pays the other girl who says she is very sorry. He has a mini breakdown laughing ruefully and flinging the money down, “Oh, we’re all sorry, I mean everyone is so bloody sorry.”

"Oh we're all sorry"

“Oh we’re all sorry”

RF:  I think it’s characteristic of John that he’d first try to comfort the hairdresser even while he’s in the midst of misery himself, similar to the way he comforted Tanya in the previous episode.  Then we see an unusual flash of temper and frustration with his “everyone is so bloody sorry” line.  Or maybe it’s not so unusual if it’s been building up inside for the previous twenty-eight days, but I got the impression it was rare for him to let his feelings emerge like that.  It’s another sign of the huge amount of stress he’s under.

Admin: He leaves the hairdresser, and the shot is briefly shown on CCTV. I like the way they use the CCTV.  It reminds us of how useful it would have been if there hadn’t been a blind spot when Leanne went to buy those flowers from the van. John suddenly stops and seems to make a decision before walking off in a different direction.

CCTV captures his exit.

CCTV captures his exit.

RF:  Agreed, it’s an interesting juxtaposition to show John on CCTV.  I also noticed that as he left, he was unthinkingly trailing his jacket behind him on the ground, something the old John would probably never have done.  He’s so distressed he’s not really aware of what he’s doing.  But he does have a moment of decisiveness when he heads off in a different direction.

John and Vic

Admin: “I thought if I don’t get of here right now, I’m going to cry.” We see he made the decision to visit Vic (Edward Woodward) at the nursing home. “ People…it’s almost as if they think it’s catching. Grief is catching. Death is catching. And they mustn’t get to close or it will happen to them too.”

It's almost as if they think it's catching

It’s almost as if they think it’s catching

RF:  Vic is one of the few people left to whom John can completely unburden himself in the face of Leanne and Tanya’s absence and Barbara’s continuing self-centeredness.  If the hairdressers are a sample of the sort of treatment he’s been receiving lately, with others behaving as if “death is catching”, maybe it’s not such a wonder he’s let himself get so shaggy.  Vic can at least provide a completely understanding and sympathetic ear, since he’s suffering himself.

Admin: Vic has been through that before and tells John about how his neighbors avoided him after his wife, Barbara’s mother, died. John asks Vic to have a word with Barbara because of the way she is holding firmly to the belief that Leanne is still alive. It is a contrast to Barbara’s discussion with Matt earlier.

RF:  I think John was well aware shortly after Leanne first disappeared that they were unlikely to get a happy ending out of it and has been reacting to that expected outcome ever since, hence his severe depression.  Barbara seems to be far more willing to keep deceiving herself, perhaps because she’d take it as something of a personal failure if Leanne is actually be dead.  Or perhaps because she can then continue portraying herself as the only one with enough faith to believe Leanne’s still alive, as sort of a martyr complex.

I was hoping you might have a word with her...

I was hoping you might have a word with her…

RF:  However, I think one of the most significant things going on here is that John has probably tried to speak to Barbara about this already and has gotten nowhere, so now he’s been driven to enlist Vic’s help as someone who might better know how to deal with her.  There were serious communication breakdowns in the Pooles’ marriage before, but everything’s been exacerbated by Leanne’s disappearance.  I also notice that John’s able to make eye contact with Vic when he talks to him, which is something he couldn’t do with the hairdressers.

Admin:  Good point.  It seems her constant optimism, forced or otherwise, has driven a total wedge in their marriage.

Hearing about Daf "bloody" Parry.

Hearing about Daf “bloody” Parry.

Admin: Vic agrees, but then blames himself because Leanne and the children were off to visit him when it all happened. John stops him saying that everyone needs to stop blaming themselves, even poor little Tanya blames herself. Vic seizes on that saying he doesn’t like Tanya being on her in France. John reminds that she isn’t on her own, she’s with her father Daf. “Daf, bloody, Parry,” says Vic.

RF:  John and Vic are talking past each other a bit, but they both clearly have protective, loving instincts for their granddaughters.  Again, John tries to comfort Vic when he tells him not to blame himself (as opposed to Barbara, who’s still looking for someone to blame).  I think that Vic seizes on Daf as a convenient, if absent target; someone on whom he can unleash his frustration and anger with the lack of progress on Leanne’s case.  The Daf discussion seems to be a very old one that’s been rehashed many, many times before.  John begins to clam up a bit in the face of Vic’s anger, although there’s barely suppressed tension and frustration written all over his face.

Admin: It gets pretty heated since he attacks John for letting Leanne marry Daf, thus ruining her chances at getting a college education. John’s response is interesting. At first he looks angry, but then he lets it slide by lashing out against Matt who was “raised in the gutter…still doesn’t have a pot to piss in.” Vic suddenly looks worried and asks John if he thinks Matt has anything to do with it.

Vic: ""I would have killed rather let her marry that waster.""

Vic: “”I would have killed rather let her marry that waster.””

RF:  It’s completely unrealistic for Vic to tell John he should’ve locked up Leanne rather than let her marry Daf, and Vic no doubt knows it.  However, he’s got up a head of steam and is venting at whoever’s available.  I think John also knows that Vic would never have been able to bring himself to lock Leanne up, nor “[kill] her rather than let her marry that waster”.  I’d say John’s initial anger is because Vic directly criticizes his parenting (“you should have done [x] instead of [y] and then none of this would’ve happened!”), although his lack of reaction could be because he realizes Vic is more venting than truly criticizing.  Matt makes a handy change of focus, shifting their attention to a different, mutual target for whom they apparently both have a lot of suppressed dislike.

Admin: John doesn’t think Matt was responsible but is a bit unsure. One thing he is sure about is that Barbara seems to think the sun shines out of Matt’s backside. “Why do all the women in my family have such terrible taste in men?” Vic gently touches his hand and says, “I’m not the bloke to ask that, am I?” They both laugh, kind of, which is very awkward (in a sincerely touching way) because they are both ready to cry.

Pained, awkward laughter.  Trying not to cry.

Pained, awkward laughter. Trying not to cry.

RF:  Of course, Barbara’s having “terrible taste in men” means that she made a terrible choice in John!  It’s not clear if he intends or even realizes the double-meaning, though.  You’re right that they share an awkward laugh, but at least it defuses the hostility and tension.  John’s expression clearly conveys that it’s one of those “don’t know whether to laugh or cry” moments – or perhaps both, poor guys!  Anyway,  I would guess that it’s rare for John to display such outspokenness and candour.  He would never express himself this way to Barbara, especially since he’s well aware she regards Matt so highly.  It’s rather sad that he can’t express his true opinions to his wife any more – if he ever did.

Admin: John asks if Vic if he is alright. Vic, being honest and blunt, says he isn’t. Hazel, Kyle Betts’ mum (the man who was holding Rosie in Vic’s caravan), is Vic’s only friend in the care home. Now she won’t talk to him because she is so ashamed and distraught over what her son did.

RF:  Vic continues on the themes of grief being catching and assignment of blame.  Like John (but unlike Barbara), Vic is unwilling to assign blame even though he knows his life has altered, never to be the same.  Also, in typical fashion, John’s more concerned for Vic’s well-being than his own; he asks how Vic’s doing despite the almost-fight they nearly had.

You alright there, Vic?

You alright there, Vic?

Admin: It is an amazing scene and they have such wonderful chemistry together. I love that John made the decision to go see Vic the way he did. Both men felt the need to talk and vent their frustrations and fears. And even though Vic was briefly hostile to John, it is obvious he cares for him.

RF:  John and Vic feel more comfortable opening up to each other than to anyone else in their lives.  Tanya’s away and John can’t speak to Barbara, while Leanne’s disappeared and Vic can’t speak to Hazel.  Everyone else treats them as pariahs so they’re both feeling completely alienated.  They also appear to share the same negative opinions of Daf and Matt.  They’ve been put in the same foxhole by the stress of Leanne’s disappearance and they naturally turn to each other.  I agree, Mr. Malahide and Mr. Woodward have some outstanding chemistry and play off of each other extremely well in this scene.

Birthday Boy

Admin: Barbara finally succeeds in cutting John’s hair. She did a good job because he looks great. John is upset to hear Barbara found hairs in the spare bed at Matt’s. They belong to Sarah Wheeler, the woman who found Ethan in the first episode. Barbara tells John not to say anything about it since it would just ruin Matt’s birthday.

Not yet.

Being told Matt hasn’t slept with Sarah, “Not yet.”

RF:  It’s a good haircut, but she certainly seems to be letting a lot of those trimmed hairs go down the back of his neck.  :-/  Their conversation expands on Barbara’s regard for Matt;  she’s as protective of him as John is of Leanne or Tanya, which is probably why Barbara concludes that Sarah and Matt couldn’t have slept together because Sarah’s hairs were found in a separate bed.  It would be an astoundingly naïve conclusion to reach in any case, but perhaps it’s the only way she can willfully blind herself to the possibility of Matt’s cheating on Leanne.  She’d rather have him remain untainted, as she thinks he ought to be.  John rolls his eyes at Barbara’s insistence but tacitly agrees not to make a fuss.

Admin:  I didn’t really notice the little hairs, but you’re right.  Her pink make-up brush isn’t quite doing the job.

Admin: At Matt’s little birthday party, which consists of the children (barring Tanya who is in France), Matt and the Pooles, they sing Happy Birthday. The Pooles have gotten him a new phone. Later, as the Pooles are leaving Barbara asks Matt if he’s sure he wouldn’t like them to stay since he shouldn’t be alone on his birthday.  Matt says he wants an early night.  John is being very sullen and quiet and just nods goodbye.

Not looking very happy at all.

Not looking very happy at all.

RF:  John has a look of incredible sadness after Barbara says “Don’t forget to make a wish,” and Matt and the kids blow the candles out.  🙁  It’s odd and rather painful thing for Barbara to say (although it’s probably due to her not thinking very deeply) when what they’re all wishing for should be obvious.  Coincidentally enough, the Pooles’ gift of a new phone corresponds with the police discovering  Matt’s smashed-up old phone in a storm drain.  John keeps his promise of not saying anything to Matt, but I suspect he’s mulling over his earlier conversation with Vic.  Maybe he’s worried about what he would say, and being unable to stop once he started.

Admin:  Yeah, he was almost certainly thinking about Sarah, the smashed phone, and Vic’s question.  He looks so trapped there.

Admin:  Before they get in the car Barbara yells at John for not making an effort. “Oh for…,” he replies. “OH! You never liked him,” yells Barbara. Matt probably heard her say that. Couldn’t she have waited until they got in the car?

RF:  “Oh, for…” is something new for John.  I don’t think he would’ve ever said that much before, so perhaps he’s becoming rebellious.  But yes, very, very tactless of Barbara since Matt wasn’t even back in the house yet.  It’s ironic for her to yell at John for not making an effort when she doesn’t even try to keep her voice down herself.  Either she really is that clueless, or she’s trying to advertise to Matt that she’s on his side.

Admin:  Could be.  She could also be trying to convince herself of Matt’s innocence.

Tanya is Coming Home

Admin: Back at the Pooles’ home the phone is ringing. John picks up and is absolutely delighted to hear Tanya on the other end. It is so nice to see him visibly brighten. Tanya is at the airport and wants him to pick her up, but the line isn’t stable and John doesn’t know what flight she will be on.

"Hello love!" It's Tanya.

“Hello love!” It’s Tanya.

RF:  John hesitates for a moment before picking up the phone, probably wondering if he’s about to get news about Leanne.  But you’re right, he absolutely brightens when he realizes it’s Tanya at the other end.  He sounds happier than we’ve ever heard him sound yet, although he begins to worry again when the line breaks up.  He’s very anxious to have Tanya back home soon.

Admin: Barbara, for a moment, thinks it must be Leanne on the line and nearly breaks into tears when she realizes it is Tanya. John tells her to use her mobile to ring Matt. That just confuses Barbara, so he yells at her that he doesn’t want to use the landline in case Tanya calls back, “…for God’s sake, Barbara, where’s your common sense?” That is uncharacteristically harsh of him, but all his thoughts are on getting to Tanya.

Tanya...she's at the airport, coming home early.

Tanya…she’s at the airport, coming home early.

RF:  John’s uncharacteristic brusqueness gets Barbara to do what he asks without grousing, which is a change for her.  She seems confused and goes blank for a second, even though he’s not exactly explaining rocket science.  We could give her the benefit of the doubt and say she’s still trying to wrap her mind around the phone call not being about Leanne.  I’d expect her normal reaction to being told she has no common sense to be much more explosive.

Admin: Barbara rings Matt and Sarah answers the phone. Barbara tells John, and he is still angry, “Well, now do you believe me?” The look on his face is very intense! As they go to the car he is still upset and chivvying Barbara forward. In the car, Barbara gamely tries to defend Matt, “He is a good man.” She starts to cry, and John is at his wit’s end, “Give up her, love, for God’s sake,” as he guns the accelerator.

Chivying Barbara forward, "Do one thing at a time."

Chivying Barbara forward, “Do one thing at a time.”

RF:  I kind of like the new, assertive John after seeing him pushed around so much!  He’s suppressed so much for so long, which I think accounts for his intense expression – which is indeed very intense!  He’s finally been proven right (or so they both think) about Matt and Barbara is utterly confused because one of her most dearly held ideas – that Matt is a nice, blameless guy who could never cheat on his wife – has seemingly been proven wrong.   I think that’s what John’s telling her to give up in the car, too.  He even drives much more aggressively than he did on their previous trip to Matt’s.  It could partly be anxiousness to meet Tanya’s plane, but I think he’s finally allowing more of his emotions to emerge in front of Barbara.

Admin: As he speeds by, he passes a man with a bunch of dogs. Actually, it is the kennel owner who was looking after Leanne’s dog, but I won’t get into all that. Just know that a dog named Scooter breaks free and when the dog man goes after Scooter he finds a body. It might be Leanne.

The Airport

Found out about the body: "Police say it could take all night"

Found out about the body: “Police say it could take all night”

Admin: At the airport John is on the phone with the police; he has been told about the body. He apologizes to Barbara for his previous eruptions. She wonders what they are going to tell Tanya. John is rather calm now because Tanya will soon be with them, “…where she belongs.” Barbara is afraid that it is going to start up again with the television cameras and the newspapers.

RF:  John is obviously shaken by the news and his manner is now more subdued.  He’s more concerned about getting all of them through the whole thing “together”, while Barbara’s more concerned with pressure from the media.  She’s oddly stonefaced and impassive after the phone call, which could be a delayed reaction to the news that Leanne’s body has been found, if she really believed Leanne would be found alive.  Or she could just be in total shock.

Admin: There is a brief glimpse of the Pooles waiting for Tanya’s delayed flight to land. They are sitting a seat apart. It seems things are back to normal with them. Meanwhile, the police forensics investigator quickly establishes that the body is male and is missing two fingers, an old injury. The flower seller that Leanne went to buy from before she went missing had lost two fingers. The police ring the Pooles to let them know it is not Leanne giving them a glimmer of hope once again. It draws them together as they share the phone to hear the news and then embrace.

Embracing.

Embracing after learning it wasn’t Leanne.

RF:  Very true that there’s an instant re-establishment of physical space between the Pooles, even though you’d think they’d both want comfort and contact after the body’s discovery.  Instead, they’re both locked into their own heads, not speaking.  They do come together after the second call, with the rebirth of a faint hope that Leanne might still be alive, which is a nice change.  Probably not destined to last, but nice.

Admin:  It was nice to see them close together sharing that one moment.

Tanya: "I know I'm late, but there's no need to squeeze me to death."

Tanya: “I know I’m late, but there’s no need to squeeze me to death.”

Admin: Tanya finally arrives and John is so pleased to see her. They hug and she says that it was Daf’s “horrible, bloody girlfriend” who drove her away. But then who should show up behind her? Daf! And he looks a right sleaze. He tells Barbara she looks great and John goes after him, “Don’t you go anywhere near my wife.” He shoves Daf, calling him a bastard, and airport security have to intervene. The episode ends.

He's spied Daf.

He’s spied Daf.

RF:  It’s a lovely reunion until Daf shows up.  John’s visibly overjoyed to have Tanya back, then instantly changes moods when he sees Daf.  His gaze changes to a glare as he quietly growls, “What the hell are you doing here?” as his protective instincts go into overdrive.  You’re right, Daf does look like something of a sleaze.  If he had any sense at all he’d recognize John’s growl as a warning, but instead he makes matters worse by telling John to “[c]hill out”.  Piled on top of John’s current turbulent mood, Daf’s comment just adds fuel to the fire.  I also thought that John’s prior conversation with Vic was likely running through his mind as he physically put himself between Daf and Barbara and gave Daf a shove.  Very uncharacteristic of him, but probably the long overdue eruption of a huge accumulation of stress, anger, and frustration on a handy target.  Too bad John couldn’t have gotten one good swing in before the security guard showed up.

Admin: John does have a strong protective streak that just seems to be overflowing right now.  If only he could have just gotten to take Tanya back home without “Daf, bloody, Parry” showing up to make a mess of it all.

Wrap-Up

Admin: This is such a good episode.  Patrick Malahide plays John with such sympathy as we watch him falling apart with grief and loss.  John is usually a kind and stable man that his flashes of anger toward the hairdressers, Matt and Barbara seem very uncharacteristic, but considering his situation they are perfectly understandable.  He wants to move on with life, preferably with Tanya close-by, but he can’t.  Barbara’s relentless optimism and what he considers to be Matt’s suspicious behavior won’t let him.

Don't you come anywhere near my wife.

Don’t you come anywhere near my wife.

RF:  I agree, this was a great episode.  We got to see a lot of versatility from Mr. Malahide:  from depression and anxiety, to grief and commiseration with Vic, to those flashes of uncharacteristic anger and aggression you mention, then to despair and hope again, and joy at Tanya’s return.  It’s all from one extreme to another, while Barbara’s unrealistic attitude, Matt’s behaviour, and Daf’s arrival act as additional stressors.  Mr. Malahide perfectly conveys a man being dragged through a hell he never would have imagined for himself, although he’s still trying desperately to do the best that he can to help his family.

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