Sinbad 1.08 REVIEW
Writer: Jack Thorne
Director: Colin Teague
THE ONE WHERE Anwar falls in love with a god-in-a-box
VERDICT Sinbad is on a roll. Two good episodes in a row. More significantly, this one builds satisfyingly on what the previous episode got so right: character interaction.
Which is a good thing, because the basic plot’s not up to much, to be honest; Sinbad and co find a pretty but infuriatingly vague God, who’s secretly testing Anwar’s mettle. After the initial set-up – and some fun scenes in which everyone apart from Anwar is suspicious of this “god”’s credentials – there are a few moments in the third act when the episode meanders a bit, seeming to cover the same ground multiple times (the whole weapon-arranging scene whiffs of filler). Luckily, there’s a fantastic battle and heartwarming denouement to make you forget you’ds been slightly clock-watchy a few minutes earlier.
The first half of the episode, though hardly action-packed, is full of little delights. Even tiny bits of detail – such as Gunnar smelling his fingers in distaste after lobbing a fish at Anwar – make these characters feel more alive. Rina, slightly disappointingly, is relegated back to “random irritable one-liners” mode again this week, but a lot of them are amusing one-liners (“I never liked puzzles – an opportunity for the clever to feel clever and the stupid to feel stupid”) and you have to love the way she’s clearly jealous of Kuji (have the writers suddenly decided she should cop off with Anwar instead of Sinbad?).
Other great moments included Sinbad and Gunnar trying to smash their way into the box, to Anwar’s disgust (perfectly played by all three), Sinbad’s dive from the ship, which has absolutely no bearing on the plot, but is shot like something from a swashbuckling Errol Flynn movie, and Gunnar’s shadow theatre (see, exposition can be fun!).
The episode also benefits from a terrific performance from Hannah Tointon. From that first cheeky grin and her matter-of-fact, “Good. I like sailors. I’m a god,” through to her final, fateful conversation with Anwar, she is pitch perfect; irritating, cute and, yet, somehow preternatural at the same time. It was a role that could have gone hideously wrong if miscast; Tointon nails it.
The show is also building its mythology intriguingly. While the episode concentrates on Anwar, at the end it’s Sinbad’s fate you’re more interested in. Why is Anwar so vital to his future? Why is Sinbad so important? You kinda hope this is a long game, and Anwar doesn’t save Sinbad next week by giving him a biology lesson or something. It’s actually beginning to feel like Sinbad might be on a massive personal voyage as well as a actual one. The scene in which he tells Cook, “I’m a thief and this is all I’m capable of!” is clearly a masterclass in self-denial.
Let’s hope Sinbad can make it three in a row…
BIRTHDAY BOY So, the big thing that was making Anwar doubt his place on the Providence was the occasion of his birthday? Hmmm, not quite sold on that one. Maybe, after what we’d learnt last week, it would have been more pertinent if it was the day Anwar would have graduated as a Doctor if he had stayed in Basra.
HERE BE DRAGONS Gunnar’s shadow-play concerns the dragon Fafnir, who is a part of Norse mythology. A pit was involved in his death, but not quite in the way described by Gunnar. Fafnir did not succumb to a bear pit; instead a warrior called Sigurd hid in a pit he’d dug under the trail Fafnir used to walk from his cave to the river. Sigurd stabbed Fafnir as the dragon crossed over the pit.
TELEFANTASY CREDENTIALS This episode was written by Jack Thorne, who created and wrote the award-winning (then mystifyingly axed) The Fades , and directed by Colin Teague, who has called the shots on Doctor Who (“ The Sound Of Drums ”, “ The Last Of The Time-Lords ”, “ The Fires Of Pompeii ”) and many of the key episodes of Being Human .
BLOOPER What’s wrong with the picture above? (Still, Ridley Scott had the same blooper in 1492 , so the episode’s in good company.)
IN-JOKE Is, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat,” the first pop culture reference in Sinbad ? Obvious gag, but fun, and unexpected.
LOOKING GOOD Colin Teague brings some really impressive visuals to the show, and it’s not all the showboating stuff like the battle at the end, and Lord Of The Rings -style silhouetted treks across the landscape (although coupled with the Howard Shore-influenced music, they did look suitably epic). Even the simple shot of Anwar entering the cave at the start of the episode is framed in an extreme manner to give a sense of scale.
Kuji: “This food is good. What is it?”
Sinbad airs on Sky 1, Sundays, 7pm