Episode 1.12 Writer: Jack Lothian Director: Michael Offer
THE ONE WHERE Sinbad visits the annexe to the Land Of The Dead and has an It’s A Wonderful Life moment.
VERDICTSinbad has been growing steadily grimmer as the season’s progressed but with the finale it’s got a serious case of the blues (pause for groans). Has there ever been a bluer episode of anything ever? It was like watching a tinted black and white film at times. But, hey, the Land Of The Dead (or the City of Limbo, to be more accurate) isn’t supposed to be the Notting Hill Carnival, is it?
This was an impressive and confident end to the first season; confident of getting a second season, if the number of new twists and revelations are anything to go by. The new developments are tantalising: Sinbad having been rescued from the Land Of The Dead when he was still in his mother’s womb; his father having been a powerful mage; something escaping from the Land Of The Dead to no doubt terrorise the crew next season. That’s lots of good, meaty dramatic potential to play with.
But the episode wasn’t just an elaborate setting-up exercise. The It’s A Wonderful Life flashbacks to how life would have been for Gunnar and Anwar were fun (and a welcome relief from the blue) and charmingly written, though it’s a shame we didn’t get to see Rina in lightfingered mode as well. The monsters were magnificent (see below) even if it’s never entirely clear what they’re trying to achieve. There were some lovely little characters moments, especially the cook’s good luck wishes to the adventurers (“Come back alive, all of you. I cannot sail this ship by myself. So do not inconvenience me!”), the discussion about death (see BEST LINES below) and the final scene with Anwar’s pep talk to Sinbad.
I’m still not convinced that that show’s found the perfect balance of characterisation versus action/adventure yet, but it’s getting there. Personally, I’d like to see more evidence of the main central cast sparking off each other, showing a natural, charismatic camaraderie that flows through the exposition and action scenes as well as the signposted character moments. It’s a balance Merlin achieved very quickly into its first season; Sinbad is struggling slightly to find a similar character chemistry but there are encouraging signs that it’s moving in the right direction. Giving Rina more to do might help; she has made a good double act with Anwar at time this season so let’s see more of that.
It was also good to see a softer side of Taryn, giving Orla Brady something other than “arch”, “camp” and “gothy” to play with. On the other hand, the revelation that she’s been doing her evil shtick all season just to convince Sinbad to go to the Land of the Dead so she can rescue her daughter seems a bit of an anticlimax. You have to think there must have been easier ways to convince him. Like paying him a shipload of money, perhaps…?
Similarly, Jamil’s sacrifice doesn’t quite ring true. It’s so sudden and bereft of any context, that instead of coming across as noble and brave, it comes across like a ungrateful response to Sinbad having risked so much to rescue him. It should be a big, emotional moment, but instead you’re left thinking, “Huh?”
Overall, though, Sinbad finishes its first season in encouraging from, and we’re more than ready for the Second Voyage Of Sinbad.
THE GUARDIANS This week’s CG monsters were utterly brilliant, especially that big guy at the end. They were called Guardians, and they were co-designed by director Michael Offer, The Mill concept artist Grant Bonser and The Mill’s David Houghton, who describes them as, “like the Fendahl crossed with the Balrog.”
ON THE OTHER HAND Please, please, please no more CG stunt doubles. When Sinbad jumps from the window it was like a flashback to Blade 2’s worst CG crimes.
WHAT IS IT WITH SINBAD AND MAPS? For the second week in a row we’re shown a map that looks like it was created by a drunk on a ship in the middle of storm.
IT’S WOSSERNAME! Taryn’s daughter, Ahlena, is played by Evanna Lynch, who was Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films.
BEST LINES Gunnar: “My people believe that when you die, you go to a great and majestic hall full of heroes.” Rina: “Fields, that was what I was always told. Green grass. Blue skies. Sunshine.” Anwar: “I thought we just become food for the worms.”