Lightfields 1.04 “Episode Four” TV REVIEW(opens in new tab)
Writer: Simon Tyrell
Director: Damon Thomas
THE ONE WHERE In 1944, the Felwood’s marriage starts to fall apart as Eve leaves, only to be brought back by Pip’s pleas. Eve inadvertently discovers Dwight’s background and Mr Felwood buckles under the weight of what he knows
In 1975, Vivien loses it pretty spectacularly, a situation only made worse when she writes “pip” over and over on the typewriter in some kind of trance. She goes to see Tom, desperate to find out what she did in 1944 whilst Clare and Nick grow closer and Nick gives Clare some advice over how to deal with the ghost.
In 2012, Pip is drawn to the barn wreck, as is Luke. Paul admits that he’s lost his business and his girlfriend, with his driving licence next. Clare’s book arrives and Baz and Lorna are surprised to find it dedicated to both her mother and Lucy Felwood. Pip opens up about his past at Lightfields.(opens in new tab)
VERDICT After three episodes of shifting the emphasis around a little bit between the time periods, pretty much every single one gets some nice meaty stuff in this penultimate episode. Starting with 1944, the resolution of the Eve’s letter plot was really nicely played and again drives home how child-like she still is. The scene’s very finely balanced between sweet and a little desperate, as she practically twirls on the spot explaining about the letter and her feud with Harry over it. What, last week, seemed to be huge issue is here revealed to be just two traumatised children acting out, which isn’t especially dramatically satisfying if you look at it one way, but very fitting and plausible if you look at another.
Eve has learnt a lot over the course of these four episodes but she, and we, only see how much when she meets the two airmen. There’s the same low level flirting but now she can see the strings; she knows how the game’s played and when she finds out Dwight is married with children (and by implication, a bit crazy), she’s not even surprised anymore. The Girl Detective from last week gets most of her answers this week; discovering how lecherous Dwight is and getting to the bottom of Mr Felwood’s problems. Her reward is a return, of sorts, to the status quo , but one that doesn’t look set to last very far into the final episode.(opens in new tab)
But let’s talk about her scene with Mr Felwood, and Sam Hazeldine finally getting to flex his acting muscles. The confrontations between Mr Felwood and Lucy, and Mr Felwood and Eve, were a smartly-played mirror to the town mouse/country mouse conflict between Eve and Lucy in episode one. Mr Felwood is confronted not only with the fact his daughter is sexually active but that she’s going to leave and he isn’t. There’s so much tied up in this, from seeing his daughter become a woman to the changes in society and the differences in what’s acceptable between generations and it’s all written on Hazeldine’s face during the scenes in the barn. Mr Felwood handles the situation about as badly as possible, and realising that almost kills him. The fact Eve is able to talk him down says a lot about how much she’s changed over the course of the series, no longer competing with, or blaming, anyone, but trying to repair some damage. Mr Felwood may repair that damage by refusing to acknowledge it was ever there in the first place, but it’s a start.
Meanwhile in 1975, both Vivien and Clare decide this is the week to lose it at different times. If you’ve been exasperated by Lucy Cohu’s slightly detached portrayal of Viv, this episode was for you. Her nervous, wide-eyed terror propelled the early scenes with the typewriter and the script very smartly put her experiences at Lightfields on a parallel with her breakdown. The conversation between Viv and Clare about suppressing childhood memories is electric, Clare trying to work out whether she’s angry with her mother for letting her down, again, and Vivien trying to work out what to worry about more: the past or the safety of her daughter and herself? The moment where she realises that she set the fire is equally heartbreaking and deliciously ambiguous. It certainly makes the most sense that Vivien set the fire, and that’s what (possibly evil) 1970s Tom is implying, but can it be that simple? And what other suspects are left? Regardless the emotional air was cleared here too, leading up to that final, chilling appearance of Lucy to usher in the final episode.(opens in new tab)
Finally, in 2012, Baz and Lorna continue to be the two most avuncular characters in the show and the Paul and Pip plotline (try saying that four times really fast) begins to pick up steam. The 2012 plot has bothered me throughout the show as it’s the one that’s got closest to running out of steam more than once, but here it really starts to move. Pip bonding with Luke over the “tooth fairy” is sweetly handled and Michael Byrne shows us the old man’s growing courage in facing the horrific tragedy of his past. There’s an interesting counter-point to this with the Paul plot, and Kris Marshall continues to turn in great work, by turns monstrous and comedically pathetic. There’s a good guy somewhere under the macho armour but there’s no sign of him surfacing any time soon. Also, does anyone else use the F-word in the show beside him? I’m almost certain no one does and if so that’s a smart, very effective character beat, emphasising how much of an outsider Paul is. Finally, Luke’s chilling line about how his dad drove over a hundred miles an hour with him in the car reads a lot like foreshadowing to me. Lightfields looks set to wrap up its major plotline in the present day and at the moment, the chances of Paul getting out of the series alive don’t seem high.
As the plot begins to gather speed for the final push, Lightfields is both raising the stakes and finally having a little fun with its supernatural elements. The image of Lucy, still burning after all these decades, in the corner of Luke’s room is chilling but her appearance in the kitchen in 1975 is, somehow, worse. Is it just me or did she have no eyes? And what is it time for? And is she as much of a danger as 2012 Pip seems to think? With one hour to go, Lightfields looks set to give us a lot of answers all at once, promising an exciting and densely-packed final hour. So follow the burning girl to episode five. Just don’t follow too closely…(opens in new tab)
UNANSWERED QUESTIONS How did the fire in the barn start? 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? 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? Why does Pip think Lucy poses a danger to Luke? Why does Mrs Felwood want to move?
• What happened between Dwight and Lucy? They definitely slept together and Lucy was definitely alive when Dwight left.
• Did Mr Felwood know Lucy was in the barn? Oh yes. He spoke to her and banished her from the family. His last words to her were, “You are not my daughter.”
• How? He saw Dwight leaving, tucking his shirt back in. Keep it classy there, Dwight.
• Who placed the witch’s bottle? It seems pretty likely that Mrs Felwood did this at this point.
Why does Pip’s family think he’s an only child? Reading between the lines, it seems that Pip was so horribly traumatised by Lucy’s death and the events that followed that he took a leaf out of his father’s book and suppressed all knowledge of his sister. By the time he had his own family, it was easy enough to simply excise her from history and that may be one of the things Lucy’s angry about.
PARANORMAL TECHNOLOGY OF THE WEEK Clare spreading flour in front of the door isn’t just a nice idea (and top marks to disposable boyfriend Nick for suggesting it), it also harks back to James Herbert’s Haunted , which is another story about something awful in an isolated country house. The house is bigger but there’s roughly the same amount of creepy and the ending’s a belter. Worth tracking down.(opens in new tab)
CREEPY MOMENT OF THE WEEK It looks like Lightfields finally took delivery of the creepy it’s been missing for the last three episodes as there was a lot to shiver at in this episode;
• “You were only a child” – So much implied in just five words. Vivien certainly believes she inadvertently killed Lucy now but for me, this is a big red flag. Tom may well be hiding something, and some of his other dialogue points to that too (See below).
• “Remember me” clearly written by a fingertip in the flour. You can see Clare suddenly realise this is not the heart-warming summer she signed up for as cold, hard proof of something nasty going on is presented to her.
• “Don’t come home” – Mr Felwood breaks his daughter’s heart, and his own, with one line. Sam Hazeldine has had almost nothing to do so far but here he’s finally given something major and absolutely nails it. Mr Felwood is furious and hurt and terrified and ashamed all at once and Hazeldine communicates that perfectly.
• Lucy, still burning after all these decades, in the corner of Luke’s room.
• “Vivien. It’s time” – Lucy’s final appearance wins this week, though, especially as (and I really don’t want to look too closely) it looked like she had entirely black eyes…
FROM THE PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT YOU EVE, WORLD’S LEAST TACTFUL GIRL DETECTIVE COMES…PIP, COUNTRYSIDE PULLOVER NINJA! Pip is following Eve ten paces behind, in the middle of the path, basically all the way to the village and she doesn’t notice? Is he a tiny, pullovered ninja or is Eve just massively unobservant?
“I want to talk to them.”
“I want to tell them that the stranger living in their house hated their daughter.” The battle lines between Eve and Harry are drawn. And then almost immediately rubbed out but still.
“You think someone started it?”
“Well if they did I’d say they suffered for it. You can escape the law but there’s judge and jury in your heart. You can’t escape the wrongs you done.” Vivien and Tom in 1975, talking about someone’s guilt. But who’s? I’m increasingly convinced it’s not Vivien’s…
“Kids block stuff out. I know there’s things I can’t remember. That I must have blocked out.”
“…Like when you went to hospital.” Another beautifully-observed, quiet little scene which says so much. The damage parents inflict on their children, often without meaning to or knowing, is formative in ways very little else is. The way these two talk about in such blunt terms is both incredibly honest, plausible and so very British.
“Sorry everything’s got so… upsetting.” But not quite as British as this. Again there’s real emotional connection there just buried under total understatement. Beautifully, sweetly played.
Lightfields currently airs on ITV at 9pm on Wednesdays