We are continuing our look at Patrick Malahide’s performance as John Poole in the series Five Days. This is will be for Five Days S01E02, our previous recap can be found here.
Five Days, S01E02
Episode two, starts on day three (obviously the days are not sequential). Tanya is staying with the Pooles as she waits to her from her biological father in France. She fully expects to be staying with him shortly, but it seems he isn’t much of a father to her at all.
Meanwhile, Matt is trying to cope with not knowing what has happened to his wife Leanne and daughter Rosie. Sarah Wheeler, the woman who found his son Ethan, is working her way into their lives. Also, Mrs. Poole and Matt attempted to give statements at a press conference, but Matt stormed out and Mrs. Poole had a panic attack, so it was cut short.
RF: Although it looked to me like one of the oddest, most self-conscious panic attacks ever. Barbara was… sort of screaming, but her gaze was level and none of the volume or supposed anguish was actually reaching her face. She even shifts her gaze from side to side to gauge how it’s going over. The whole thing looks like an insincere, badly acted put-on. I’m not even sure what it was for – a sympathy ploy, maybe?
Admin: She does pause to shift her gaze while kind of licking her lips; I noticed that. It splits up her cries which seems odd. Admittedly, I’ve not had any experience with such things, but I would have thought some real screaming, the shrieking kind, and smashing of glasses and general effing and blinding would be more demonstrative of a panic attack. I think it could be Barbara is so absolutely self-involved that she can’t even have a fully natural panic attack.
Admin: Again, this is a complex series with a huge cast and we are focusing primarily on Mr. Malahide’s work, so for a more comprehensive recap, Wikipedia is the place to go.
‘Straberry’ Jam and Cake Batter
Admin: John Poole makes his first appearance in a scene with Tanya. They are working in the kitchen, Mr. Poole working on a cake while Tanya makes his labels. Tanya is chatting away, defending her father Daf. She seems to be trying to convince herself that the reason he hasn’t even phoned her from France is because he’s a “rebel” and lives his life his own way. She notices her grandfather’s skeptical face and chastises him on it. “I’m not looking like anything,” he responds with his arms out. Oh, he was totally giving her a “yeah, right” look about dad Daf.
RF: Yes, the “rebel” label is obviously meant to be in the “oooo, sexy!’ sense, which tells you a lot of what you need to know about Daf as a father. I can’t blame John for being skeptical, even from what little we hear. Obviously his dad/grandad Spidey sense is working quite well as far as Daf is concerned. However, he backs down on discussing it further, realizing that Tanya has enough to deal with right now as it is.
Admin: He then offers to let her lick the cake batter spoon, but just gets the infamous teenage “spare me” look for his asking. He muses sadly for a bit and tells Tanya that when her mother was a little girl, she used to love raw cake mixture. Tanya doesn’t really know how to respond to that. John goes over and puts his arm around her and notices that she has misspelled strawberry as “straberry” on the labels. But when he tells her she explodes, shoving him off, yelling at him to stop being such a teacher. “OK, OK….,” and he resumes mixing his batter. Tanya then looks up and smiles slightly, probably her form of peace making.
RF: John’s “I yield!” gesture after he corrects Tanya’s spelling is almost the same one he made to Barbara in the previous episode when she was making bazillions of sandwiches. Although, c’mon, not being able to spell “strawberry” at her age?? He does look rather sad, almost on the point of tears, as he reminisces about Leanne. Tanya picks up on that, and I think you’re right that it’s her form of peace-making when she smiles.
Admin: Poor John. He does a lot of backing off. But, he does seem to have a natural inclination to offer advice which probably is a result of having been a teacher for so many years.
RF: Or a dad/grandad reflex. 😉
Admin: It is actually one of my favorite scenes because Tanya is being a typical teenager, but you can still see she really does feel closest to John and why. He is gentle and understanding, but he also is quick to back off and give her the space she needs without leaving. It also shows how John still sees her as a little girl, and that she clearly reminds him of his daughter Leanne.
RF: The two of them do seem to have a very close and loving relationship, finding support in each other that they’re not finding in other family members, like Barbara and Matt. It’s almost an echoing of an earlier scene with Victor Marsham, when he describes his relationship with Leanne – which was more parental than grandfatherly – for budding journalist Josh Fairley. John and Tanya have a connection that Tanya doesn’t seem to have with either Matt or Daf.
The Family Struggles
Admin: Later, the Pooles, Matt, Tanya and the family liaison officer PC Simone Farnes (Nikki Amuka-Bird) are watching a video copy of the press conference. When Tanya sees Matt leave the conference she asks, “Could he look any more guilty?” John gets on to her, “How does saying things like that help anyone, hmmm?” That’s enough to make her leave the room.
RF: And yet another teenage fit of temper from one of the most gentle of remonstrances, although I was a bit surprised when Tanya said that right in front of Matt. I also noticed that just as in the car scene in episode 1, there’s still a certain amount of distance between John and Barbara, even while they’re sitting on the couch.
Admin: Yeah, everyone is closed off and far apart and shows in the body language.
RF: That’s true, everyone is within his or her own personal space bubble. There’s no physical contact or comfort going on.
Admin: It is revealed that Leanne was pregnant, but had kept it quiet. Mrs. Poole: “I’m her mother, why did she never confide in me?” With that Matt leaves the room also as PC Farnes follows leaving the Pooles on their own. John tells Barbara that Leanne always went to her grandfather, “it was always him she confided in.” He is a bit resentful with that, hitting the word “him” with extra emphasis.
RF: Barbara turns the news about Leanne’s pregnancy into a reflection on herself; it’s all “me, me” (just like the news conference), with an added tinge of blaming Leanne for not telling her. The atmosphere gradually becomes more and more strained as more people leave until the Pooles are alone. John does seem just a touch resentful when he says that Leanne always went to Victor; he doesn’t appear to recognize that he’s already developing nearly the same type of relationship with Tanya. I also noticed that while John looks at Barbara as he’s talking to her, she appears to be completely transfixed watching herself on television.
Admin: He tries to comfort Barbara by saying that any mistakes they made, they made together, but Barbara puts the blame on him for never backing her up and indulging Leanne. He looks so crushed, “you never let me in,” and then, almost as if to himself, “…maybe if we had more children…” That seems to be something that has long eaten at him. Barbara completely ignores him, somewhat proving that maybe she never did let him in, as she watches herself on the screen, “How did I get to be so old?”
RF: Mr. Malahide has some extremely interesting body language going on in this scene. He tentatively reaches over to pat Barbara’s hand, as if anticipating his comfort might be rejected yet still trying to breach their physical separation, when he says they made any of their mistakes together. There’s no attempt at reciprocation from Barbara, who, still transfixed by her own face, blames him for indulging Leanne. John withdraws his hand and begins to fidget a bit, shifting hands and knees and generally looking restless and uncomfortable as he faces away from Barbara (shades of the car again!). He can’t look at her as he says, “You never let me in,” a deep and crushing truth for him to admit, both to her and himself. You’re right that it seems to have been something that’s been eating at him for a long time; their marriage is breaking if not already broken. John looks as if he might become tearful, then his gaze becomes more wistful and distant when he mentions wanting more children. I got the sense that having Leanne was some sort of concession Barbara made and later regretted. Maybe it isn’t such a wonder after all that Leanne didn’t confide in her.
Admin: His fidgeting is very telling; he rwants to be doing more and getting closer to those he loves but can’t get anyone to co-operate. You can sense his frustration.
RF: Barbara’s attention remains entirely on the television throughout as she concentrates on her “performance”. She even rewinds to watch it all over again. Her comments at the news conference were focused mostly on herself (“I’m Leanne’s mother. I would have known if…”). Her comments at home are self-centeredly concerned with how she looks on television, instead of what’s actually happening to them as a family.
Rosie is Found
Admin: We’ll go over one non-Poole moment quickly, because it is relevant. Josh Fairley (Al Weaver) a journalist who had been bonding with Leanne’s grandfather Victor Marsham (Edward Woodward) found Rosie in Victor’s caravan. She had been put there, without Victor’s knowledge, by Kyle Betts (Rory Kinnear), the son of a nurse, Hazel Betts (Margot Leicester), at Victor’s nursing home.
RF: I was very glad when Rosie was found alive and apparently unharmed! Kyle Betts is incredibly creepy.
The Grand Vizier
Admin: Tanya is in her bedroom at the Pooles when John knocks on the door to speak with her. She had been trying to convince herself that her mother and Rosie were together, but now that Rosie has been found she knows that something really has happened to Leanne. John tries to reassure her that they’ll find her Mum. Then he does something that he obviously used to do when she was small, she protests that she’s thirteen and he’s just being pathetic, but he continues undaunted.
RF: Notice how John gives her some space before he comes over. It’s a completely different sort of giving space than we saw between him and Barbara on the couch, though. Though he’s tremendously worried himself, he tries to sound confident when he tells Tanya that they’ll find Leanne.
Admin: “By the pricking of his thumbs the Grand Vizier to her Beauteous Highness Tanya will now demonstrate his magical ability to read minds” “Oh, no! Her Beauteous Highness Tanya thinks this whole thing is her fault. Which wicked fairy as put this wicked lie into her pretty head?” And with that he cracks what has been really eating at Tanya. She blames herself for staying in her room when Leanne and the children went to the nursing home. She didn’t actually have homework; that was just a lie because she simply didn’t want to go.
RF: This is such a sweet and incredibly touching scene. Even in the midst of all the horrible goings-on, John’s playacting is a tiny bit of humour and lightness; I bet it worked extremely well on Tanya when she was small. He nails right away that Tanya thinks the whole thing is her fault (more of that dad/grandad Spidey sense, and/or he just understands her very, very well). He looks as if his heart is breaking when she admits she stayed in her room and caused everything that happened afterwards.
Admin: He firmly tells her that she mustn’t blame herself that none of it is her fault, “none of it!” She seems to finally understand him and sees that she has to stop beating herself up. She confides that it is “the scariest thing that has ever happened to me.” Then he lets out his grief, “me too, love, me too.” That brings out Tanya’s nurturing side as she reassures him and they hug. “Someone has to know where she is,” says Tanya.
RF: John’s first priority is reassuring Tanya rather than placing blame. Very telling that John chooses to reveal his grief to Tanya rather than Barbara, who would probably regard it as a weakness anyway. And unlike Barbara, Tanya responds with understanding and comfort in turn – they change roles, with Tanya becoming the comforter while John is the comfortee, as she tells him that someone has to know where Leanne is. There’s no reluctance at physical contact either, just reassuring hugs.
Admin: What a brilliant and genuine scene. You can see how close those two are, and it has obvious parallels to Leanne’s love for her grandfather Victor. It is also important because it shows that Tanya really does care about her grandfather and wants to comfort him as much as he wants to comfort her. But, none of that could happen for her until he used what seems to a tried and trusted technique of his at getting to the crux of her problems. Once she was able to let go of the guilt she’d been harboring for getting out of seeing Victor she could finally reconnect properly with her grandfather John.
RF: I totally agree, it’s a wonderful scene. And you’re right that John makes the crucial breakthrough by understanding Tanya so well. He knows how she thinks.
Wrap-Up to Episode Two
Admin: Again, we see John Poole acting as mediator as he tries to comfort those around him with varying levels of success. His attempts at getting close to Barbara are especially crushing because she is now completely shutting him out, leaving him feeling very alone. His facial expressions in the living room scene speak volumes. While everyone else is exploding in anger and wanting to be alone, he is the one who would really like to connect to all of those around him.
Thankfully, he is eventually able to reconnect to Tanya, and we see that she is actually like her grandfather in that she can reach out and reassure him as he does for her.
RF: John does seem to be the emotional centre of the family, even though Leanne preferred to bring her problems to Vic. He’s still trying to mend the breach with Barbara, but it seems like he might have less and less enthusiasm for the effort with every rejection. It’s hard to say if Barbara’s truly aware that she’s driving him away, although I’d guess that she isn’t; her attention is too much on herself. Instead, John and Tanya have found closeness, connection, and support with each other that they couldn’t find with anyone else.
Admin: I agree. I don’t think Barbara is aware of the wedge she’s driving between her and John, even though his body language is pretty much screaming about it. She won’t even look at him. It isn’t a deliberate avoidance either. She just doesn’t seem that interested in how he feels.