Waking the Dead: Series 3, Episodes 3 and 4: Walking on Water
Written by Simon Mirren; Directed by Andy Hay
After yet another extended delay, I finally get back into Waking the Dead’s third series, and with a significantly better episode than the season premiere. Taking the same path as Series 2’s Special Relationships, the plot this time focuses on a man, Mark Lovell (Craig Kelly), who has recently been acquitted of the murder of his adoptive father, Thomas, an event which took place almost a decade ago. On the night of the murder, four other members of the family vanished without a trace along with their boat. When the latter is discovered off the coast near the family home and salvaged, Boyd reopens the investigation, the assumption being that, if they can find out what happened to the rest of the family, they stand a good chance of finding Thomas’ real killer. Unfortunately, since he was locked up, Mark has changed - dramatically so. He is now Maria, and Maria is proving to be less than cooperative when it comes to dredging up Mark’s past.
It’s at this stage that Waking the Dead becomes very, very confusing, and I must confess that, despite having now seen the episode three times, I’m still completely flummoxed by what is supposed to be going on in the final twenty minutes. It doesn’t help that the writer, Simon Mirren, inserts a Big Huge Plot Twist out of left field, involving conspiracies, espionage and drug smuggling, and it’s a shame, because everything leading up to these final twenty minutes is very good. I love the way the script pokes fun at Boyd’s discomfort when faced with Mark/Maria. Much like with David Hemmings’ character in Argento’s Profondo Rosso, Boyd isn’t disgusted by the sight of a man dressed as a woman: he simply doesn’t know how to deal with the situation. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: for all his tantrums and crudity, Boyd is actually a pretty liberal fellow, something of a rarity in TV detectives. (When Spence asks how Mark’s gender disorder affects his status as a suspect, Boyd snaps back “It doesn’t.”)
There’s some nice direction in this episode too, including a very neat shot of a body being slid out of a storage freezer, shown from the point of view of the body. On the other hand, I’m not wild about the various shots of the dead appearing and vanishing while Frankie is working alone on the salvaged boat. It’s getting a little too close to the pseudo-mysticism that plagued some of the later episodes for my liking.
Holby connections: The writer of this episode, Simon Mirren, penned several episodes of Casualty during the Series 13-14 period (he’s also Helen Mirren’s nephew), while Craig Kelly, who plays Mark Lovell, starred as SHO Daniel Perryman throughout Casualty’s tenth series.