Lightfields 1.02 REVIEW

Lightfields 1.02 “Episode Two” TV REVIEW

Episode 1.02
Written by Simon Tyrell
Directed by Damon Thomas

THE ONE WHERE In 1944, the aftermath of Lucy’s horrifying death threatens to tear the Felwoods apart, as Eve’s suspicions grow that Dwight may have had something to do with it. As Lucy is buried and the village begins to move on, Eve continues to dig, investigating the site of the fire and discovering Dwight’s lighter. She confronts him but he denies killing Lucy and storms off.

In 1975, Clare’s dad arrives from London to visit. Whilst both she and Vivien are pleased to see him the whispers continue and Vivien begins to feel the strain.

In 2012, Luke describes seeing the “Tooth Fairy” and how she gave him the matches he was playing with. Luke goes missing briefly and is found at Lucy’s graveside, whilst Pip becomes increasingly terrified by what seems to be history repeating itself. Meanwhile, Paul, Luke’s father launches a bid for full custody.

VERDICT Five episodes is an odd length to pace a story over. You don’t have the economy of “one act per episode” like three-part shows do. Done wrong, five episodes can feel like padding, an hour or so of watching the story slowly move to its next big position and next big reveal. Lightfields, thankfully, doesn’t do that, instead choosing to have episode two delve deeper into all three time periods and show us more about the characters there.

In 1944 this means being witness to Eve, Least Tactful Girl Detective Ever or at the very least, Most Direct. Eve has already come a very long way from the calm, assured, urbane young woman of the first episode. She’s raw here, hurt and angry and guilty and completely unsure which one she needs to be first. She opts for anger with Dwight, tearing a strip off him at the funeral and then builds on that with her CSI: Lightfields routine that leads to the discovery of his lighter in the remains of the barn. However, when she confronts Dwight again, the power balance has shifted. He snatches the lighter, hurts her and leaves and she does nothing, or seems to…

Over the course of this episode, Eve embraces her outsider status, and how Lucy’s death has pushed her even further away, by using other people for her own ends. We see her manipulate young Pip pretty coldly and show a lot more overt kindness to Young Vivien. However, it’s her final scene, with the grief-stricken Harry in the church that suggests where Eve is going with this. She seems almost completely cold, even a little malicious, as she explains to Harry exactly what she thinks Lucy and Dwight were doing in the barn. Harry is obviously crushed and it almost seems like that was Eve’s intention. However, I wonder whether she’s in the process of gathering reinforcements for what she suspects is the coming war with Dwight. After all, she doesn’t look like she feels capable of hurting Dwight but maybe Lucy’s grief-stricken boyfriend could? Eve is stacking the odds in her favour, has vengeance very much on her mind and based on this episode doesn’t seem that bothered who gets taken out along the way.

Meanwhile, in 1975, things seem a little quieter. However, the plot quietly moves up a time period and everything we see in 1975 this week is vital. Firstly, there’s the reveal that Vivien has had a breakdown prior to this episode, which neatly reinforces the idea of her being a slightly unreliable witness, at least to the people around her. Secondly, there’s the arrival of John, Claire’s father and Vivien’s – if not estranged then certainly distant – partner. He not only confirms that Vivien has been unwell before but sets up an interesting tension for both her and Clare. He wants them to return to London, where it’s safe but no answers are to be found, whereas they decide to stay at Lightfields, which isn’t safe but is brimming over with the secrets of Vivien’s lost summer. Danger and knowledge, or safety and ignorance, it’s a hell of a choice and it’s a credit to both Simon Tyrell’s script and Peter De Jersey’s performance that John doesn’t feel like a cardboard antagonist. Even his refusal to believe Vivien when the stove catches light feels real, and grounded in concern rather than the sort of wilful, plot-necessary stupidity that blights far too many stories like this.

However, the real hinges of the episode comes in two moments, both quick. The first is Vivien remembering saying “Burn it” to someone and the second arrives in the closing moments of this week’s 1975 strand as Clare finds a message scratched on the door of Lucy’s room:

LUCY LOVES TOM

And the Tom is scratched out…

Suddenly, everything’s up in the air again, as it’s simultaneously implied that Pip (who certainly seems guilty about something) was responsible for the fire but that Tom may have had a motive too. This is beautiful script writing, the answers for one time period placed in one of the others like an elaborate puzzlebox. Even the seemingly innocuous 2012 plotline does this, with Luke’s discovery of a magnifying glass leading Pip to flash back to Vivien, in 1944, telling him to “burn it”. Nothing’s easy and no one, it seems, is entirely innocent…

The performances really drive this home this week with some standout work in all three time periods. Dakota Blue Richards continues to both impress and keep you guessing as to Eve’s true motives in 1944, whilst Peter De Jersey is sympathetic, likable and completely, benevolently patronising as John in 1975. Finally, Kris Marshall absolutely nails his work in the 2012 strand this week, making Paul a rounded, flawed, understandable figure rather than the cartoon bad guy he was in danger of becoming. Great work all round.

Lightfields episode two doesn’t even pretend to run in place. Instead, it cleverly seeds answers to each time period’s questions in other time periods, forcing you to pay attention to everything as the tragic events surrounding Lucy’s death echo through the decades. This is turning into a real puzzle of a series and one that, so far, is a pleasure to try and solve.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS How did the fire in the barn start? What happened between Dwight and Lucy? What was the message Pip sent? What happened to Vivien? Why can’t she remember what happened at Lightfields? Where’s Luke’s mother? How did the Felwoods get Lightfields back by 2012? Why did they sell it in the first place? Who was the girl who picked on Clare? What does Tom the farm hand remember? Where is Tom in 2012? Did Vivien persuade someone to start the fire? Was it Pip? Did Mr Felwood know Lucy was in the barn? How?

ANSWERED QUESTIONS. MAYBE… Why can’t Vivien remember what happened at Lightfields? Vivien’s vision of herself as a child at Lightfields saying ‘Burn it. Burn it.’ Implies very strongly that she was persuading Pip to set fire to the barn. But why? Answers certainly but, it seems, even more questions too…

CREEPY MOMENTS OF THE WEEK In 1975, Clare wakes up, goes looking for her Mum and finds a crumpled up piece of paper with YOU IMAGINED IT typed on it again and again and again…

In 2012, Lucy appears to Luke, her spectral form seeming to glow as it’s reflected in the window of the car.

In 2012, the wonderful combination of absurd and chilling as Luke asks if Old Pip had seen the “tooth fairy” and then, seeing he’s upset, offers him a carrot because they help you see in the dark. Pip looks utterly stricken as he replies, “I don’t want to see in the dark.”

In 1944, Eve trying to sleep as the Felwoods argue about how Mr Felwood knew Lucy was in the barn…

IT’S WOSSISNAME!

• In 1944, Harry Dunn is played by fresh-faced Luke Newby who a lot of you have already seen. Not only was he a policeman in the Sherlock episode “A Scandal In Belgravia” but he wins, for me, the coolest fictional parent in a franchise award for his appearance as Teddy Lupin (sniff, Oh Remus…Oh Tonks…) in the epilogue of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part II. He’s also about to be all over our screens again, as the lead in interesting new BBC zombie drama, In The Flesh.

• Meanwhile, upstream in 1975, Peter De Jersey joins the case as John, Clare’s dad and Vivien’s partner. He was Inspector Leon in one of my all-time favourite TV shows Urban Gothic, has appeared in Holby City, Waking The Dead, The Bill, Dalziel And Pascoe, Sugar Rush, New Tricks and Coronation Street. He was also a particularly great Horatio to David Tennant’s Hamlet in the fantastic RSC production/movie.

BEST LINES

“We’re going to stay strong, you and me. We’re the men.” – Mr Felwood scarring young Pip for life with a line which is completely understandable, completely laudable and heatbreaking.

“The Queen’s opening the Sandringham estate.”
“So you’ll meet her?”
“Yep. You feel threatened?” – This entire scene between John and Vivien is beautifully acted, a combination of caution and warmth, love and tension. Although Sandringham was opened to the public in 1977, so a little later than here. However, given how slow UK bureaucracy is, it’s a good bet it took two years to actually complete. Or John could just be using the most Monarchical, byzantine chat up line ever.

“BAZ!” – Kris Marshall has caught a lot of flak over the years for some of his performances but he absolutely nails this scene. Opening on that single, flamboyant punch of a syllable, the scene takes him through anger, sadness and desperate, amazingly incompetently expressed paternal love. Paul is a spectacularly bad father, but his heart’s in the right place and, somehow, that makes it much worse.

Alasdair Stuart

Lightfields currently airs on ITV at 9pm on Wednesdays

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