Patrick Malahide as John Poole in Five Days S01E04

Five Days S01E04

It is now day 33 and the entire family is in turmoil.  Sadly, things are only going to get worse.  For the previous episode recaps, please click here.

It’s a Bank Holiday

The Pooles open the episode in crowded, holiday traffic. John: “The best place to be on a bank holiday is in your own back garden.” Barbara says that they agreed they’d try and give the children the semblance of a normal, ordinary day, but John’s derisive snort indicates he probably just agreed to go with the flow.  Typical Granddad.

We agreed we're going to give those children the semblence of an ordinary day.

We agreed we’re going to give those children the semblence of an ordinary day.

RF:  John doesn’t seem very optimistic about the day being “ordinary”, but I think he knows it’s unlikely their days will ever be “ordinary” again for a long, long time.  Also, I suspect he still doesn’t like being around lots of people after the hairdressers’ incident, even though that was five days ago.

Admin: When they get to Matt’s everything goes pear-shaped. Ethan won’t let Barbara in because Matt is talking to a television reporter. Even worse, Sarah is there and rouses Barbara’s anger by trying to hug Ethan, “You get your hands off him; he’s not yours yet.” Barbara storms out with Matt behind her trying to explain.  Poor John, who was still by the car, is completely flummoxed. “What on earth is going on?” Sarah had organized a paid interview!  John: “Us paying the mortgage not good enough for you?” Ouch! Barbara tells John to take her home and he is back in that car like a rocket.

Us paying the mortgage not enough for you?

Us paying the mortgage not enough for you?

RF:  To add insult to injury, Matt (obviously knowing they’d disapprove) didn’t tell Barbara and John about the interview beforehand, even though they’d see it on television and realize what he’d done.  Barbara’s hurt and angry at what she sees as Matt’s betrayal (compounded by jealousy when Sarah hugs Ethan, which Barbara sees as a possessive gesture), even though her sobs don’t produce any tears.  John’s also angry and uncharacteristically vocal about it; his comment about the mortgage is one I doubt he’d make under normal circumstances.  He doesn’t waste any time trying to do his usual peace-making; he just ducks back into the car straight away instead.

Admin: It is obvious John didn’t want to be there in the first place. He doesn’t feel as betrayed as Barbara, but he lets fly his feelings about what he perceives as Matt’s general incompetence.

Admin: As they return home Barbara continues her rant. She says that John never liked Matt, and now she agrees with him. “Are you satisfied now,” she asks him. Is she blaming John? Then she drops a real clanger by saying she wants to call social services.  John doesn’t like Matt, but he certainly doesn’t want to tear the kids away from him. He’s so freaked out with Barbara that he nearly hits a bunch of charity runners.

Social services?!

Social services?!

RF:  Barbara always seems to have to turn her rage outward, finding anyone else to blame but herself, hence accusing John of not liking Matt even though she now agrees with him!  It’s rather topsy-turvy logic.  John gets in an “I told you so” or two, although he may not find it very satisfying since Barbara’s somehow blaming him for Matt’s misconduct as well.  However, John seems to understand the lasting repercussions of taking the kids away from their father far better than Barbara does.  She’s treating it more as revenge than anything else, while he knows it will only cause more trauma and pain to the kids, so soon after their mother’s loss.  John does look slightly upset when Barbara says, “All we do is wait.  Wait while life moves on without us,” giving the sense he feels their life is still in limbo without knowing what happened to Leanne.

Tanya and Daf

You should tell him it upsets you when he's late.

You should tell him it upsets you when he’s late.

Admin: The argument continues with John saying “the children need their father, no matter how no good he is,” as they enter their own home.  Who should be there but Tanya. Seems her biological father Daf is late. John tells her that they weren’t speaking about Daf when they came in and says she should tell Daf how much it hurts her when he’s late. Even when all hell is breaking out John takes the time and effort to be a rock for Tanya. She sticks up for Daf saying that she doesn’t want to stress him and chase him away like her mother did. Ouch! John did NOT need to hear that, but he is always very tolerant as far as Tanya goes.

RF:  I wonder if there’s a hint of how John feels about Leanne in that “children need their father” line?  You’re right, he does try to stick up for Tanya because he already knows Daf is something of a deadbeat who will likely end up disappointing Tanya at some point in her life; actually, he’s disappointed her plenty already.  However, Tanya seems to adore Daf and forgive him everything, no matter how bad a father he is, since she regards him as the only real family she has left.

Admin:  I think you are right.  It foreshadows a later scene in the episode where he expresses guilt at not always defending Leanne.

Heard Daf mocking Tanya.

Heard Daf mocking Tanya.

Admin: A honking horn is heard, it’s Daf;  he is too rude to knock on the door. He criticizes Tanya’s outfit, one which her Mum bought, but then acts like he was just joking. I don’t know if he was or wasn’t. John sees the whole thing and just goes back inside. John is so unhappy, and right now no one cares about his feelings whatsoever.

RF:  I’m not sure if Daf was joking or not, although I suspect he wasn’t, so he threw in the “joke” comment as an attempt to save face.  At any rate, he doesn’t seem very sensitive to Tanya’s feelings.  John seems to be feeling a bit abandoned and lonely as he goes back inside, not finding Daf’s comments the slightest bit reassuring and possibly worrying that Tanya’s just going to be hurt by Daf’s eventual indifference.

Admin:  That makes sense.  Daf is being critical of the outfit, but then realizes he looks bad.  Poor John looks so dejected going back indoors.

At the Festival

Admin: Remember the runners that John nearly hit? Well, they were taking part in a charity festival.  At the festival a couple in a boat find what appears to be a body. There is a lot more to the scene with different characters mingling, but I won’t get into that.

RF:  I think it’s worth noting that Sarah accuses the Pooles of racism to their family liaison officer, PC Simone Farnes (Nikki Amuka-Bird), in an interim scene, saying that she (Sarah) is the only one looking out for Matt’s interests now that he’s unemployed.  Matt overhears the conversation and doesn’t seem too impressed.  Sarah appears to be trying to drive a wedge between him and his in-laws.

Admin:  That Sarah character is so creepy the way she clings to Matt and the kids like a limpet.  It is explained somewhat, but it never seems healthy to me. :-/

RF:  You’re right, she’s incredibly creepy and only becomes more so by the end of the episode.

Sonia Orrincourt and Raffi the Rabbit make a cameo.

Sonia Orrincourt and Raffi the Rabbit make a cameo.

Admin: Incidentally, the festival scene has a couple of interesting odd elements.  The event organizers are the Sonia Orrincourt (Emma Amos link goes to Agent page because her IMDB doesn’t mention Five Days) actress from Inspector Alleyn’s Final Curtain and her husband, the paper editor (Vincent Franklin),  who is in a rabbit costume.  The rabbit costume reminds me of  Rafi the Rabbit from Hunted.  Maybe characters from other Patrick Malahide productions are crashing in Singing Detective style.  😉

RF:  Well done on spotting Sonia Orrincourt!  🙂  Fortunately, her Rafi the Rabbit doesn’t experience the same fate as “Hunted’s“, or there would be more bodies at this event.

Admin: There is a faint sound of sirens going to the festival in the background as John and Barbara are clearing out their flower bed. Barbara begins to cry and John comforts her. It is a very sweet moment because she doesn’t fight him, instead she goes into his arms. They do have a few moments of shared tenderness.

She actually lets him comfort her.

She actually lets him comfort her.

RF:  The siren provides an  eerie foreshadowing of coming turmoil, even though the moment itself is calm and quiet.  John offers a lovely bit of wordless comfort (he picks up on Barbara’s emotional state right away) as his usual first instinct, while Barbara appears to be genuinely (if uncharacteristically) emotional and vulnerable for a change and, as you say, willing to accept him.   I also think their gardening  echoes something we’ll see in a later episode (no spoilers, though).

Family Struggles

Admin: After being notified about the new body, Matt and Daf are at the Pooles’.  John is prodded by Barbara to tell Matt that Tanya plans on going back to France with Daf then he suggests the little ones live with him and Barbara for a bit. I don’t think John really thinks the children should be moved, but he is doing it to assuage Barbara. Words are had and Matt finds out that Leanne had been “begging” money (basically money she was owed in child support) from Daf.

Tanya has decided to go back to France with her father.

Tanya has decided to go back to France with her father.

RF:  Once again, they’re all sitting well separated from each other as they discuss the news.  Barbara leaves the tougher job of telling Matt that Tanya wants to leave to John, which is just as well since he’s better at diplomacy than she is.  However, I think you’re right that he’s only doing it to keep her happy.   Despite John’s best efforts to handle the situation calmly, things very quickly become ugly, with John telling Matt somewhat harshly (again, unusual for him) that while Daf wasn’t the best husband and father, “at least he earned a proper living”.  It’s a direct slap at Matt and something that must have been gnawing at John for a long time for it to emerge this way.

Admin: The investigators arrive with a bracelet taken from the corpse. It was Leanne’s. They say they won’t know for sure until they have checked dental records. John is actually relieved. He looks forward to knowing for sure if Leanne is dead; DCI Barclay (Hugh Bonneville) understands what he means.

Can't fathom that he's looking forward to the moment you know for sure she's dead..

Can’t fathom that he’s looking forward to the moment you know for sure she’s dead..

RF:  Barbara’s wide-eyed and transfixed as she identifies the bracelet, saying (in an oddly cheery tone) that it’s one of the few things she ever bought Leanne that Leanne liked.  It’s almost as though she’s pleased at winning a prize or solving a puzzle.  Barclay’s very understated about the identification process, saying that they won’t know what’s coming next until they’ve determined things for sure, while John seems ready to burst into tears of  relief at finally getting some answers.  He sits down next to Barbara and puts a hand on her elbow, offering wordless comfort again even though she seems not to need it.  Actually, she seems to be in her own little world in a state of shock.  Then everyone realizes in an awful moment that Vic hasn’t been officially told yet, although we know he’s already found out from reporter Josh Fairley (Al Weaver) and was devastated by the news.

Admin: After the DCI leaves, the fight about custody resumes. Barbara says that she will bring in the authorities if Matt won’t budge. Everything gets heated with John futilely trying to calm them down. Daf and Matt scuffle as Tanya, John and the family liaison officer try to separate them. Daf callously reveals that he will leave without Tanya and also lets out that Leanne is dead. Matt tells Ethan they are leaving, but Ethan doesn’t want to leave without Tanya.

Daf: Stop using her death to get me back into harness.

Daf: Stop using her death to get me back into harness.

RF:  Poor John has the thankless job of trying to keep things reasonable as emotions flare and anger boils over.  Angrily responding to Barbara’s ultimatum, a hurt Matt tells the Pooles that they, Leanne, and the kids were the only family he ever had. Barbara’s unmoved by this and continues to insist on taking the kids, while the kids overhear the entire argument.   As for Daf, he never had any intention of taking Tanya to France with him; he only told her he would so she’d quit bugging him about it.  In an incredibly low blow, Daf even accuses Tanya of using Leanne’s death (the first the kids have heard of it) to “get [him] back into harness”, while John gives him a shocked and outraged look that could melt paint!

Glare of death for Daf.

Glare of Death for Daf.

RF:  Tanya’s quite understandably shocked and devastated by her father’s words.  Seeing her distress, John desperately tries to smooth things over, saying that they don’t yet know for sure if Leanne’s dead.  Tanya tearfully pleads for him not to lie to them (the kids), causing John to give Daf another Glare of Death (he really should have burst into flames and be a heap of ashes on the carpet by now) for spilling the news so carelessly.  A somewhat shamefaced Daf hastily retreats as the kids join together in solidarity, refusing to be separated.  With their mother gone and their father making new ties with Sarah, the only constancy they have in their lives is each other (well, their grandparents too, although they may not realize it).

Admin:  That is one heck of a glare.  Daf deserves it and more.

Barbara: "My God, she's dead and she's still running our lives.

Barbara: “My God, she’s dead and she’s still running our lives.

Admin: The next day Barbara calls social services, but John has had enough. He hangs up the phone and very forcefully tells Barbara that they are going to make it up to Matt and help him with the children. Why? Because they are a family and that is what Leanne would have wanted. Barbara: “My God, now she’s dead and she’s still running our lives!!” John is completely taken aback. He has to pause to take that bit in before saying, “Are you ever, ever going to grow up?” He walks away leaving Barbara on her own.

Are you ever, ever going to grow up?

Are you ever, ever going to grow up?

RF:  I rather liked that John was willing to stand up to Barbara and say what he really believes, rather than giving in to her again.  She always seems a bit confused and tongue-tied when he asserts himself.  He bluntly tells her exactly what he thinks of her attitude towards Leanne, shocked that she’s still stuck in her “me me me” mode.  No wonder he’s taken aback. Barbara’s reaction is callous, self-centered, and rather cruel, especially in the face of Leanne’s death, and probably the last thing he expected.  From the way she describes Leanne as “running  [their] lives”, she seems to have felt this way about their daughter all along.  The scene  revisits something I noticed in episode two: Barbara appeared to consider motherhood as a supreme concession in her marriage, something she never really wanted.  It’s a rude awakening for John, even if he suspected it all along.

John Takes Control

Admin: John meets with DCI Barclay. He wants to look at the body. Barclay tells him the dental records were conclusive. John persists, “I’m her father.” Barclay suggests taking DNA samples, 50% from him, 50% from Barbara. John: “Equals 100% Leanne….you condescending shit.” Barclay reminds him what five weeks under water will do to a body besides health and safety would never allow it. “Health and bloody safety… and objectives and targets and outcomes…key stages. Scientists are the baddies now, is it any wonder why they can’t get anybody to be a science teacher anymore?”

Meeting DCI Barclay.

Meeting DCI Barclay.

RF:  There’s a nice moment of leashed tension as John is waiting for Barclay to come out, standing very calm and still by his car.  Then he proceeds to release some of that tension on Barclay, pacing and forcefully demanding to see Leanne.  I think he had to work himself up to coming there on his own, and he’s determined not to leave until he’s done what he came to do.  But we also know that Barclay is trying to spare him the worst, since we’ve already glimpsed what John will see.

Admin: He storms into his car and a very concerned Barclay follows him in, “I’m not happy about you driving.” Inside the car John says, “You treat us like children.” Barclay, finally being blunt, says they couldn’t make a visual identification because she doesn’t really have a face.
Then it is John’s turn to be honest. He says he loved his daughter but “I didn’t always defend her as I should. Now that she’s dead I want to do my duty by her. I want to be man enough to say goodbye.” This all seems to hark back to Vic’s accusation that John didn’t do enough to protect Leanne from the likes of Daf and maybe even Matt.

I didn't always defend her as I should

I didn’t always defend her as I should

RF:  John gasps a bit and looks somewhat shocked when Barclay tells him that Leanne doesn’t really have a face; though he might know academically what water exposure does to a body, he doesn’t seem to have realized the full implications until now.  I think you’re right that he’s still working through the guilt created by Vic’s words and his own misgivings.  I also wondered if the “man enough” line related to John being made to feel inadequate as a father and husband by Barbara as well.  However, it’s astonishingly brave for John to say all this to Barclay, who he barely knows, and also brave of him to see Leanne on his own.

Admin: John and DCI Barclay are at the coroner’s waiting room. John tells Barclay about his interest in science. “Seven years old I was when they discovered the secret of the double helix: The answer to every question of human life. DNA. It was beautiful. The men who discovered it said they knew it would be beautiful and it was, and they were Englishmen! Well, one of them was. And that was my life mapped out. No more opening for England or driving the Flying Scotsman, I was going to be a scientist. They talk about pester power now, good God the nagging my poor parents got. With every birthday coming up I had to have a chemistry set.” Barclay: “Can’t get them for kids now.” John blames health and safety.  He sounds like a grumpy, old man, but I think he just remembers a simpler time in his childhood and longs to feel as safe, secure and optimistic as he did then.

Telling Barclay about the discovery of the double helix.

Telling Barclay about the discovery of the double helix.

RF:  John’s posture is bolt upright and tense as he’s waiting, while Barclay’s is more relaxed; he’s seen it all before while John hasn’t.   I think John starts telling Barclay about his interest in science in part to distract himself from thinking about Leanne, but he also gives us some sense of what he was like as a teacher:  passionately interested in his subject and wanting to convey that passion to his students.   His face transforms as he speaks; he visibly brightens and comes alive, looking almost cheerful and… normal.  He seems calm and fully prepared for the situation, although he does ask Barclay if he’ll wait for him.

Admin: The door opens and Barclay insists he will go in with John. John wants to go on his own, but Barclay warns him that if he does some defense silk will suggest the body was tampered with. John thinks Barclay is treating Leanne like an exhibit, but to the DCI she is. Barclay tries one last time to talk him out of it, but John insists, “How exactly do you think she can hurt me now?” With that they go inside.

How exactly do you think she can hurt me now?

How exactly do you think she can hurt me now?

RF:  Barclay’s trying his damnedest to keep John from making what he thinks will be a very serious mistake; he knows what to expect better than John does.  He’s very blunt when he says Leanne is an exhibit, which seems to shock John and make him hesitate momentarily.   However,  he’s determined to go through with it – it’s that sense of fairness and duty again.  And once again, he’s doing the tough job without Barbara’s support.  I was very glad  Barclay went with him.


Admin: John Poole is being pulled in all directions with this episode.  He wants to properly grieve, but the guilt he feels at not protecting her comes bubbling up.  He wants to be there for everybody: Barbara, Tanya, Ethan, Rosie and even Matt, but he is forced to choose allegiances.  He doesn’t like Matt, but he doesn’t want to hurt him either.

We have to cope with this as a family.

We have to cope with this as a family.

RF:  John is really caught here; he has an innate sense of fairness and what’s right, but as you say, he’s also trying to be there for everyone, even when their priorities conflict (looking at you, Barbara and Matt!).  But his priority is his commitment to his family.  It’s that commitment that drives John to view Leanne’s body on his own, trying to finally do right by her.

Admin: Mr. Malahide conveys all those conflicting emotions beautifully.  It is especially touching when his mind drifts back to his childhood, probably a time when he felt safe, as he recalled his awe at the double helix.  He must wish his life now could be as simple and as filled with joy as it was when he was a lad.

and that was my life mapped out

Remembering the double helix

RF:  I loved the way Mr. Malahide gave us a brief glimpse of John’s joy at teaching, which gave us a hint of the man he used to be.  He’s shown us misery, frustration, and anger (I still wish that he’d cut loose on Daf, just a little bit) in the first few episodes, but we finally got to see some happiness, even if it was nostalgic.  He also showed us confidence,  determination, and no small amount of bravery as John walked into the coroner’s office, giving us a character who has possibly grown a little through great pain and come to realize a few things about himself and his family.



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1 Response to Patrick Malahide as John Poole in Five Days S01E04

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