And so the wicked web of National Treasure weaves something even darker in this episode. What has become of our beloved Robbie Coltrane as Paul? With each well timed and placed flashback, we come to realise that the world he inhabited was a darker one than people would have us believe.
The show was not the runaway hit that time has lead people to believe, his marriage not the happy sort we thought it was, and when questions get raised there are often no answers to go with them. What the episode poses isn’t so much a promise that things could be okay, but that things aren’t as cut and dry as they first appeared.
What we discover is that people aren’t entirely evil, nor entirely good, but that they lay somewhere in the middle of the two. The Finchleys are good parents, or they try to be, but that a dynamic of three people will always cause tension. Paul, his wife Marie and their daughter. Paul, his comic partner and their agent. Paul, his wife and his comic partner. His life appears to be a series of problems with people.
The only thing that actually makes sense and offers something close to levity is the one scene involving Paul and his daughter. Not because it’s a particularly funny scene, though Coltrane’s delivery of quick talking offers smiles with comical asides, but because there is genuine emotion between him and Andrea Riseborough. It might be that we’re all secretly rooting for him to be innocent, and the show is certainly smart enough to play on it, to make us hope he isn’t a monster. His character only ever seems to be able to talk quickly, to be filled with purpose and personality, when he’s near his daughter.
The episode also throws more people into question. Is it that he’s been set up, a scapegoat for his partner or manager, which is entirely possible or was it that the time that this apparently happened was one that was filled with perverted middle aged men looking at women half their age as sex objects?
Credit of course should go to the writer for offering a complex and brilliant look into celebrity hubris, but also credit should go to Julie Walters who has never looked so worn out, tired and on the verge of screaming. It’s her that offers the doubt in our minds, that while Coltrane and Riseborough get all the bigger moments, Walters makes us question how much we believe in his pleas.
There is one episode to go. Place your bets on what we will discover.