The Almighty Johnsons 2.04 "Death’s Cleansing Embrace" TV REVIEW(opens in new tab)
Writer: Ross Hastings and James Griffin
Director: Murray Keane
THE ONE WHERE Agnetha proves she’ll do anything to protect her boys and Loki threatens the same to avenge his daughter.
VERDICT This is the first five star episode of this season. It’s near faultless and everyone involved is at the top of their game. From a very intense start of the episode – which deals with the fallout from last week’s cliff-hanger ending in a very straight forward and very honest way – through to the various characters’ reactions to events, everything is firing on all cylinders.
Other than Ty, Eva and Agnetha we don’t see any other character for the first 15 minutes of the episode and the intensity with which the drama is played out really draws you in. Agnetha’s upfront and relaxed admission to killing Eva and her matter-of-fact attitude about how to cover the murder up was very refreshing. And once again Alison Bruce plays her character with a perfect pitch between caring parent and villainous glee.
Mention should also be given to Shane Cortese (Colin/Loki) who manages to balance the normally slightly bat’s-arsed character of Loki with that of an angry grieving parent brilliantly. Up to now the character has always felt like little more than an irritant. Here he starts to look like a lot more credible threat. Especially for Ty.
With the way Eva’s death was shown last week there was the possibility of making it a “whodunit” type plot but the makers choose to be totally straight about the murder and who committed it. It’s nice to not have it dragged out or made into a mystery.
The Ty/ Dexter analogy we’ve been using for the past few weeks in these reviews becomes strangely prescient after this week’s events as the character becomes complicit in helping with Agnetha’s plan to get away with murdering his wife.(opens in new tab)
The episode title, according to Olaf, refers to an old Norse/Viking tradition that the loved one of the deceased should follow them into death. Ty isn’t too keen on doing that and whe n it’s suggested that Stacy (Eva’s handmaiden) should volunteer to jump on the funeral pyre and follow her mistress, her reaction and subsequent screaming and running away is a real laugh out loud moment in an episode short on humour.(opens in new tab)
Not to say that this is all played completely straight. While the majority of the episode deals with Eva’s death and the reactions and emotions this event creates, the Johnsons inherent comedy aspects, although a little muted, manage to come through at times, never feeling forced or out of place. The humour is perfectly pitched with the events. It’s a very fine line and this episode walks it perfectly.
Admittedly, this doesn’t feel like the typical Johnsons episode; there’s serious stuff going on, with lots of very powerful two-character moments dealing with aspects of the Eva plot. Everything else takes a back seat to some degree; we don’t see much about The Frigg, Axl and Zeb get just one scene and Gaia doesn’t appear at all.
This episode feels like it draws a line under the events of the season one finale while still using the fallout to move forward. Ty is finally free of Eva, but has gained an enemy in her father. And with Olaf and Mike also knowing about what really happened to Eva and who was responsible, we ask how long it is until that cat falls out its bag.
Also worthy of note is Ty’s interest in what he saw at the moment of Eva’s passing and whether it’ll come back at some point. There was a hint of the idea that when the God aspect leaves a body what’s left is mortal and that seemed to resonate with Ty a little. The idea of the separate God entity also begs the question of the possibility of Eva’s Hel aspect returning at some point in another body. Whatever the future holds you can bet this episode’s events come back to bite a few characters in the behind.
BEST GOD It’s a dead heat between Agnetha’s cold determination to deal with Eva and protect Ty, and Colin/Loki’s desire to give his daughter a send-off worthy of a God and avenge her. Agnetha just edges ahead.(opens in new tab)
CHEERS NORSE STYLE As predicted last week, Mike’s bar is now a fixed location for a lot of the action to take place and he seems to be taking to the roll of barkeep with aplomb. Although we wonder just how many drinks the boys are going to pay for.(opens in new tab)
OLAF GETS HIS KIT OFF Not at all. He’s even so cold he wears a woolly hat at one point. And it looks like Axl finds a novel way to keep his head warm too.(opens in new tab)
BEST-DRESSED MURDERER Agnetha sports a lovely purple Adidas tracksuit and some yellow marigolds as she carries out her plan to murder Eva. She’s so serious that she makes the ensemble work.(opens in new tab)
BEST-DRESSED FUNERAL GUEST Colin/Loki turns up at Eva’s Norse funeral in a red boiler suit, wellington boots and welder’s mask with a flame thrower strapped to his back. He’s a fire starter. Twisted fire starter...
Agnetha: "This is the part where I need you to be with me Ty. Otherwise we might as well not bother. This is where I need you to man up"
Ty: "I’m not exactly experienced when it comes to disposing of dead bodies."
Agnetha: "Hey. I’ve only ever done this one time before. Don’t make out I’m some kind of serial killer."
Axl: "So it’s a God funeral with a sci-fi theme?"
The Almighty Johnsons airs Mondays at 10pm on SyFy
• Read our other The Almighty Johnsons season 2 reviews