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Lightfields 1.03 REVIEW

TV REVIEW Message in a bottle

Lightfields 1.3 “Episode Three” TV REVIEW

Episode 1.03
Written by Simon Tyrell
Directed by Damon Thomas

THE ONE WHERE In 1944, Eve continues her investigations and becomes suspicious of Mr Felwood. Meanwhile, Harry confronts Dwight the airman and doesn’t like the result one bit. Vivien finds a letter addressed to Lucy that she suggests Pip burns.

Meanwhile, in 1975, Vivien is prescribed sleeping pills whilst Clare continues to clash with local bully Cindy and gets closer to her boyfriend Nick. At the same time, odd messages start appearing on Vivien’s typewriter and she discovers some letters sent to Eve by Pip and a single, chilling message that was never given to her.

Finally, in 2012, Paul makes a play for custody of Luke, and Baz takes desperate, and surprisingly sneaky, measures to cut him off. Luke sets off a fire and is almost injured whilst he and Pip slowly bond over both seeing the tooth fairy…

VERDICT This week, Lightfields is all about trust, and what happens when families don’t have it anymore. Kicking off in 1944, we get more Adventures of Eve, Tactless Girl Detective as she continues her one-woman crusade to prove that Lucy was murdered. It’s an interesting episode for Eve as she’s largely a catalyst for events rather than being at the centre of them herself. As Eve’s laser intense search for the truth about her friend continues we see Mr Felwood as a potential threat, picking up on the fact he may have known Lucy was in the barn. We get tiny hints from Tom that he knows more than he’s saying too.

There’s also a very poignant scene where Mrs Felwood makes it clear that she knows Lucy was becoming sexually active but has no interest in acknowledging it out loud. That way the image of her daughter as her little girl stays intact, or at least, intact enough. It’s a subtle moment played supremely well by the two actresses and shot through with a surprisingly grounded approach to the supernatural, given that Mrs Felwood is making a witch’s bottle to, apparently, make sure her daughter goes to heaven.

It’s an interesting choice, going for the “everyone’s a suspect” approach and for a while it doesn’t look like it’s quite going to work. That sense of padding I was worried about last week rears its head again but, just as you think that’s where we’re heading, the episode’s final moments in 1944 put everything in context. The revelation that the letter Vivien found was written by Eve to Lucy, and is filled with hate, not only casts Eve’s dogged search for the truth in a very different light but also places Eve in, if not the list of suspects, then definitely it’s immediate vicinity. The sight of her, wearing one of Lucy’s dresses, trying to reason with Lucy’s boyfriend whose life she helped change forever is chilling. If – and how – the Felwoods discover the letter will prove very important to the last couple of episodes I suspect. Also, it’s a beautiful character beat for Eve; as well as clearly being stricken with guilt and grief at her friend’s death, the character initially introduced as a young London socialite eager to help Lucy make the scene is revealed to be enough of a little girl still to write her friend a cruel letter when she’s angry with her. I still suspect Eve’s innocent, but she’s no longer the Girl Detective, just a frightened survivor, like everyone else.

However, one of the other survivors may be far more aware of events than she’s let on. The witches bottle Mrs Felwood constructs is found and opened in 2012 and the message inside it is… well, let’s go with portentous. “SAVE HER SOUL” could just be a loving mother commending her daughter’s soul to Heaven but it could also be a plea, a hope that perhaps in death her daughter will be safer than she ever was in life. It also suggests that maybe Eve wasn’t too far from the mark at all with her suspicions about Mr Felwood…

The 2012 plot is positioned in a very clever place this episode, acting as the hub for the other two time periods. Not only do we get the witches’ bottle opened but we also get a photo of Vivien, taken in 1975, which we then see being taken in one of the 1975 sequences. There’s also the revelation that whilst Vivien never published her book, Clare did, writing a novel that seems to have been based on her summer at Lightfields. This is interesting as much for what’s not said as what is, given that we don’t know whether Vivien survived her second stay at Lightfields, whether she wrote the book and Clare put her name to it for some reason or whether it’s Clare’s way of dealing with what happened to her at the farm. Regardless, I suspect the book will be a key part of the last couple of episodes and may lead to the reveal on where Clare is in 2012.

Clever plotting aside, I’ve been a little concerned that the 2012 plot was going to play like a mildly supernatural, but basically cheerful, episode of The Archers but this week it really steps up to the plate. Not only do we get the intersection of all three time periods but the familial trust plotline is a doozy. The initial moment where Luke sets a fire is, well, let’s say it’s very ITV – lots of British character actors acting at one another and roughly 0.5 % actual threat to anyone. However, the way that plugs into the ongoing plot where Paul is trying to seek full custody of him takes things down a surprisingly dark path. Kris Marshall and Danny Webb are quietly two of the best members of a very strong cast, and the scene between the two of them in the pub is fascinating viewing. On the one hand it’s the very British thing of two men who don’t like one another trying to get on but on another it’s essentially a declaration of war. Baz’s deliberately cackhanded attempt to talk Paul out of the custody attempt is merely an opening gambit to him putting a very drunk Paul in a car at the end of the night and then calling the police. Or to put it another way, Baz arbitrarily decides to put a man who is a danger to himself and others behind the wheel of a car because that way he’ll be able to keep his grandson. Combine this with Paul’s badly phrased but genuine desire to raise his son and suddenly things aren’t so black and white in 2012.

Finally in 1977, the trust issues come from Clare and Vivien. Lucy Cohu’s been quietly doing great work all series and she really starts to come into her own here, even as Vivien starts to unravel. Lucy, or whatever is at the farm, is trying to communicate with her and Vivien’s armour is starting to crack as she begins dreaming about her childhood self and finding messages on the typewriter that she has no memory of writing. As she struggles with this, Clare talks to Tom about events at the farm and is surprised to find that her Aunt worked at the farm after Lucy died. This is a neat throwaway moment that may well be vital later; look at how Tom’s face and voice sour when he mentions Eve. We also find out Eve died in 1974 and the letters she kept from Pip in turn lead us back to 1944, and the chilling message that, for some reason, was never given to Vivien. The letter and the messages left on the typewriter push Vivien even closer to the truth and it can only be a matter of time until she remembers what happened that Summer. Then, like with both other plots, she’ll be faced with one, vital question:

Who can she trust?

Lightfields is heading into the endgame now and whilst it’s still arguably the least frightening supernatural drama ever made, it’s certainly one of the smartest in years. The plots are tying together in surprising ways, the acting is top notch and the momentum is really starting to pick up.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS (With special, and belated thanks to Kahless, for the last two) 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? How did the Felwoods get Lightfields back by 2012? Why did they sell it in the first place? What does Tom the farm hand remember? Where is Tom in 2012? Did Mr Felwood know Lucy was in the barn? How? Who placed the witch’s bottle? Why was the photo of Vivien left behind? Why was it Clare who wrote a novel about their summer at Lightfields? What happened to Vivien? Is she alive in 2012? Is Clare? Where is Eve in 1975? Why does Pip's family think he's an only child?

ANSWERED QUESTIONS
• Where’s Luke’s mother? She died of leukaemia prior to the start of the story
• Did Vivien persuade someone to start the fire? Nope. Vivien told Young Pip to burn the letter she found for his sister.
• Was it Pip? No, he’s innocent on account of it not happening.
• Who was the girl who picked on Clare? Cindy, whose hobbies include being bitchy and bullying people in graveyards.
• Where is Eve in 1975? She died the year previously, according to Clare.

CREEPY MOMENTS OF THE WEEK It’s Creepy Note Week on Lightfields , this week, starting with the note Pip sent to Eve to give to Vivien:

“SAY NOTHING EVEN IF THEY TORTURE YOU”

Then there’s the typed numbers on Vivien’s typewriter. All a little, “ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES VIVIEN A TRAUMATISED SURVIVOR OF WORLD WAR 2 ERA TRAGEDY” really. And of course, the final chilling message:

“COMING READY OR NOT”

SNEAKY BASTARD AWARD OF THE WEEK Oh Baz, you very, very bad man. I love the growing moral ambiguity of the battle between Baz and Paul and how the script refuses to provide easy answers. Plus, the scene later in which Luke and Pip interrupt the two men about to have a typically rubbish British punch up shows just where the emotional maturity lies in the family, with the small boy who sees ghosts and starts fires. That hotel is in a LOT of trouble…

IT’S WOSSISNAME? No new faces this week but a couple who’ve been knocking around for since episode one and finally get a good chunk of screen time.

• Alice Sanders , as the supremely nasty Cindy, is pretty much brand new. She appeared in Coming Up in 2011 and is set to appear in the movie The Powder Room , but Lightfields is her first major work.

Chris Mason is actually another Coming Up alumni and also appeared in Justice in 2011. However, chances are you’ll have seen him before as Steve in The Fades .

(Moment of silence for The Fades )

MOST UNEXPECTEDLY SWEET MOMENT OF THE WEEK “She had luekaemia. Leukaemia not LUKE-aemia. It’s not my fault. It just sounds like it was.” – Just a beautiful, sad, pragmatic moment of clarity from Luke. There’s no front, nothing precocious, just a small boy who’s made his peace with the loss of his Mum, explaining what happened. Sweet and genuine and nicely played by Alexander Aze.

BEST LINES

• “It’s a coincidence.” – Vivien moves into the centre of Egypt’s largest river when Clare finds Lucy’s gravestone and notices she died the Summer Vivien was in town.

• “I don’t want to know.” – Jill Halfpenny and Sam Hazeldine have a thankless task here, as they’re required to act not only through their characters but through the expectations of the age and they’re both doing great work. Just like Mr Felwood’s line last week about how he and Pip need to be strong, there’s so much longing, so much hurt behind these five, simple words.

“She resisted your advances.”

“No. She didn’t.” – Neil Jackson as Dwight, saying so much with just three words. Luke Newberry’s reaction as Harry is perfect too.

“I get the feeling something’s happened here.”

“I am sure a lot of things have happened here.” – Sophie Thompson is another slightly underused member of the cast but she’s consistently impressive and this scene in particular, contrasting her sweet, pragmatic, sensible approach with Michael Byrne’s terrified, monosyllabic Pip is really nicely handled. Again, it’s all about trust. Pip trusts Luke, seems to want to trust Lorna (Perhaps recognising she’s the adult in her relationship) and isn’t quite able to, yet.

Alasdair Stuart

Lightfields currently airs on ITV at 9pm on Wednesdays

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