The jumping from reality, memory and fiction is getting a lot more prevalent now. The banter between Marlow and Binney is great. Honestly, I really like the noir scenes even if Dr. Gibbon thinks the book is a bit derivative 🙂
According to Wikipedia, “originally, the title of the series was “Smoke Rings”, and the Singing Detective noir thriller was to be dropped after the first episode; Potter felt it would not hold the audience’s attention”. I am really glad they it was not dropped, the slimy Mark Binney and airy Marlow are great.
Smoking plays a big part in the story. Hospital Marlow is always trying to figure out a way to get to cigarette. Also, there is a lot of smoking in the noir scenes. For some reason, a lot smoke seems to swirl around Binney’s head in particular. It fits him because he is so mysterious and more than a bit devilish.
As usual, spoilers and a gallery below.
Episode Three “Lovely Days”
It is a lot easier to understand what is eating Philip Marlow after watching this episode. It opens in a train in the 1940s with a young Philip Marlow and his mother. There are group of soldiers ogling her (one of the soldiers is a rather young David Thewlis which is pretty cool) and young Philip is full of questions about why they left his father behind. Scenes alternate between the present Marlow’s psychotherapy session and his childhood memories before settling on the strains of Lili Marlene and Marlow’s novel.
Binney & Marlow
Marlow is in Binney’s flat and the meeting is not going to well for Mark. Marlow, however seems composed enough. He makes a comment about reptiles in the zoo and a tiger padding away in his cage. Both are fitting comments because Binney is a snake and he, like the tiger, is pacing about his flat. Marlow claims he hasn’t been able to come up with much concerning the case and makes a few amusing jazz & dance hall references that only serve to annoy Binney.
Things heat up when Marlow comments on Binney’s “expensive things”. “Nice things,” says Binney. Marlow points out there is a difference between expensive and nice and he only said expensive. Marlow makes some cryptic comments about speaking German and Nazis. Marlow then gets Binney to look out the window and he sees a blonde woman (played by Allison Steadman, who is also Philip’s mum). Binney (badly) feigns puzzlement as to who she is. Marlow lets us know she’s Russian and this all has something to do with Binney helping Nazi’s escape prosecution.
Binney demands that Marlow leave but Marlow suggests he’d be happy to see Binney hang for treason. Binney goes to a drawer he’d secretly opened earlier and pulls out some money (which is right next to a gun) and pays Marlow. “You’re cheap Marlow.” “Ten cents a dance, fella.”
There are lot more childhood memories in this episode. Marlow’s new bedside neighbor George tells him a disturbing story about how he could take advantage of young German women after the bombings for just a couple of cigarettes. George gets so excited with laughter from his story that he has a heart attack. At first Marlow verbally attacks him but when he sees it is serious, he calls for the nurse.
This all causes another memory to unfold where the young Philip inadvertently saw his mother have sex with her lover, Raymond Binney, in the woods. It was a traumatizing experience for him because he didn’t really understand what he was seeing. Especially as Mrs. Marlow (feeling guilt and probably frustration with her lot in life) began to cry. Philip interpreted it all as Raymond hurting his mother.
Later in the pub, Mr. Marlow and Raymond are singing their popular songs while Mrs. Marlow plays piano. At one point, Raymond casually, but tenderly, puts his hand on Mrs. Marlow’s shoulder. Philip understands there is something going on between them and, in a very creepy scene, imagines everyone in the room laughing about it.
Shots are Fired
As the nurses are clearing away and taking official stock of George’s belongings, Nurse Mills remembers she has to grease Marlow’s skin. This is always awkward because Marlow becomes aroused during these sessions. He tries to force himself to think of other things so he goes back to his story. But, he makes the mistake of having Binney pull out the gun (no, don’t think of the pistol) so it ends embarrassingly for him and Nurse Mills.
He quickly goes back into his novel and meets up the the blonde. He tells her to meet him at the Laguna but that never happens because two mysterious trenchcoated figures shoot her. As she is dying, she tells Marlow that Skinskapes is a front. Marlow presumes it is a front for getting Nazi’s out that the British and American governments don’t want prosecuted but she just says something about rockets.