Fitting, satisfying but a depressing end to an absolute marvel!
Inspector George Gently has always been one of those series which I just can’t stop admiring. I don’t know if it’s because of the 1960s setting, or the blending of the then relevant social issues with intriguing crime cases, or the brilliantly picturesque setting or the fantastically amazing cast- it’s just very difficult to pick one reason. 8 series- 10 years! That’s a journey to applaud. When it was announced that this series would be the final one, I was in a way happy because ultimately the show would get a fitting closure and Wow! What a closure!
Before I get to the part which eventually turned this usual finale into an extraordinary one, a little about the case. It’s the 1970s now. We have two cases running in parallel, connected by one person, Michael Clemens, an ambitious politician and a potential winner for the next PM. George Gently, after successfully proving corruption within the police system, is approached to look into the murder investigation of Leslie, a case involving Clemens in some way. On the other side, a undercover reporter is murdered publicly at a union protest, the reporter who laid his hands on a proof concerning Clemens. John Bachchus and Rachel Coles run the latter investigation while Gently takes the cold case. We also catch a glimpse of the state of politics then and the government cover ups. But what’s interesting and better than the actual case is how every character reacts to the case.
George Gently! This show has always been about him more than the cases. An honest man with extreme integrity, at the verge of retirement after the assassination of his beloved wife Isabella, he moved down from London to lead a quiet life, to cope with his pain and loss. This finale portrays how George never really overcame his grief and come to terms with his loss. He had distracted himself with work and nurturing his protege John Bachchus, but with the changing world and his inability to adapt to it, it results in absolute frustration and opens the door of helplessness and loneliness for him. The friction between him and John doesn’t help him either. In a way, George feels like an outcast unable to compromise with his principles or accept the harsh corrupt world. At the end, the season finale ends with George finding closure over his wife’s death.
The first half hour of the episode, I felt the story was going nowhere. It didn’t feel like it was a finale. But the next 1 hour! Mind blowing! Seeing George struggle with his emotions was agonizing, especially his call to Rachel in the middle of the night and the subsequent breakdown. I was surprised how George called Rachel and not John. That scene was so endearing. It was the first and the last time we see George so vulnerable. I absolutely admired how George wasn’t ready to give up his integrity even though he was about to retire in a week. That’s Gently for you! We never got many scenes of George thinking about Isabella over the series, may be a few here and there. This episode showed how much George missed Isabella and how he just can’t live without her or how every day has been a struggle for him. Another strong point of this episode was how it was and is highly difficult for an honest cop to work in the real world. The last scene between John and Rachel showed George’s success- creating two potential and capable police officers.
A little disappointing was the very few interactions between George and John. They have been through their ups and downs over the years and in the previous episode we saw a huge clash between them. I expected them to mend their relationship or something that would mean they were at a better place. I wasn’t sure at the end if George and John were Ok. I mean, they would have definitely been, courtesy to the lovely friendship and bonding they share, but- I wish there was one scene to show their strong bonding, to show what each meant to the other.
Coming to the performances. This episode, hands down, belonged to Martin Shaw. What an actor and performer! Shaw portrayed Gently’s frustration and pain so well, it just hit me. He effortlessly lets the viewers into Gently’s personal and vulnerable side. Even though the rest of the cast and supporting cast did a great job, they didn’t have much to do in my view. It was all Gently throughout, which I actually felt was the right way to go. Kudos!
I’ll miss George Gently a lot but I am really happy that the show got a wonderful ending, which many series doesn’t get. This show had one of the best story narrations and the pace of every episode was almost equal to perfect. Appreciation to every one of those involved in the process of making this amazing series. George Gently will always hold a special palace in my heart.
Season 8 Episode 1
For those who have read my previous review of Inspector George Gently, you would be aware of how much I love this show. The magnificent 1960s setting, old school policing (No technology or high tech forensics) and highly dynamic and flawed characters made this show one of its kind. There are no heavy action sequences or car chases. The investigation is simple and mind kindling. I never really had the hope that the series would come back after Season 7 ended. But here it is, at last, for its final season.
If you want to watch an honest and self-righteous cop, George Gently is the one. He is a moral cop with a terrific understanding of the police system and how the society and its people change according to the times. A war veteran and in the brink of retirement, Gently is about to complete his circle. Having lost his wife, and having no one else to consider as family, he in a way decided to mentor his Sergeant, John Bachchus into a better cop and a person. But the difference of perception and the unavoidable generation gap between Gently and Bachchus was and is the core of the show. Their arguments are a treat especially when Gently wins it. Just having both of them back on screen is such a pleasure. Apart from these two central characters, the specialty of the show is its focus on a lot of the social issues that prevailed in those times. The first episode of this season focused on violence against women.
The episode, set in 1970 now, rightly begins with the uncertainty over Gently’s career. It is time for him to hang his boots- a thought running in his mind too. Looking at Gently in this episode, I could see him ready to end his professional journey. He still wants to fight for justice and serve his city and country, but there is fatigue etched in him. I couldn’t stop wondering what happened to Gently suffering from MS track last season? He is cured now is it? Anyway- John is John and it is so good to see Rachel still present in the team. The case. A body is found in a hazardous dump and is identified as Alister Liddle who was killed by his wife in 1962, whose body was never found. The wife, Eve Liddle was convicted for the murder and was imprisoned. John was part of the case in 1962 and Gently immediately senses nervousness in John. We know how John was when the show began- ready to tamper evidence to close the cases, forcing false statements from witnesses- anything for victory. After reading the reports, it is inevitable that the case was conveniently closed after getting a confession, a forced confession off Eve and the evidences were never substantiated. Gently reopens the case and along with Rachel’s support finds the loopholes and digs up what actually happened. The downside- his relationship with John is tested. From here on, sensitive issues on domestic abuse, rape and abortion are involved and the writers treat it with high sensitivity.
Women weren’t trusted back then (and perhaps even now). If they encounter domestic abuse and violence of any sort, no one believed them. Hence, they never voiced it out. They were scared for their lives and their societal reputation. They didn’t want to harm their kids’ lives and endured all the pain silently. The character of Eve Liddle is written magnificently here. She portrays the sad state of the women back then so beautifully. The actor playing the role is fantastic. It’s sometimes difficult to understand why she and others like her put up with it, but it’s not that difficult to understand either, is it? Eve and her daughter uniting at the end was really emotional. I was also glad that they didn’t make it the clichéd story of Eve taking the blame of murder to save her daughter.
Two other storylines were super impressive in this episode. Rachel and Gently’s relationship. I have always admired Gently for believing women could be police too and bringing in Rachel and supporting her to become a detective. Rachel faces workplace harassment from a top officer which she handles with firmness yet with embarrassment and fear. It was wonderful to see Rachel standing up for Gently and declaring how he is a mentor and a father figure to her. Rachel is a very strong and evolving character. I have always loved her from the time she entered the show, probably in Season 6. I wish we could have seen more of her.
Gently and John! When these two are on the screen, there are fireworks for sure. Gently always tried hard not to push the line when it comes to John’s personal life. He knows John lives away from his daughter. He could see that John is a mess- drinking and being imperfect in his work. When he questions John’s motives behind the case after finding out that it was John who forced Eve to confess, we see a huge argument breaking between them. It’s sad to see them fall out. John has worked under the pressure of Gently, to become someone like him. He just couldn’t. It’s never easy for Gently when words on his wife is brought up. John’s way of work is different. He fights for justice too but is impatient for results. He is ambitious with an unclear mind. Gently had seen potential in John and made him his reason to stay back in the police force after his wife’s death. John takes liberty to hit at Gently but understands Gently’s intentions at the end. But him being unaware that Gently is leaving the force, retiring, is the catch here. What would be his reaction? Waiting eagerly to watch that. How much ever John detest Gently now, Gently has been an integral part of his life for the last 6 years (Just 6 years?!). They have grown close to each other without their knowledge. I love their bonding and friendship- one of the strong points of the show- the strong point of the show.
I am sad that the show is ending, but I also feel it’s the right time. For one, the lead actor Martin Shaw has aged well beyond the normal police. He is in his 70s now and his age is visible onscreen, none his fault though. It doesn’t matter as I absolutely love his acting. Hence, I am waiting to see him in a different character now.
No idea when the last episode of the show is airing. This series will always be remembered for its amazing writing, brilliant acting and its marvelous locations. Huge thanks for the team behind this show for entertaining the viewers for nearly a decade.
Don’t miss it!