[Review] - Dirk Gently Series 1 Episode 2 - "White, Black Eyes, Strangely Erotic"

Photo courtesy of the BBC
 Ah, St. Cedd's College, Cambridge. In another world, this was the home of most certainly not a Time Lord, hiding in exile, his chambers the secret home of a time travel device, and the arrival point of a bored horse and his robot master.

In this day and age, Time Lords are for BBC One. This is BBC Four, and Dirk Gently might be back on track. Dirk returns to the place of is greatest disgrace to help his old professor. Within moments, the robot he's meant to be protecting is gone, the professor is dead, and his office may hold the clue to unravelling the mystery, if Dirk isn't arrested for suspicion of murder first.

Back is the half hearted embrace of science fiction, back is the ever doubting voice of reason that is Susan, and back, most importantly are the laughs. Though, for the first time since this series began (and I'm including the pilot), we actually feel for Dirk, as a person.

Hit the jump for the rest of the review.

I think I figured out what was missing from episode one that made it so... bland, so potently uninteresting, especially now that it is sandwiched between the delightful pilot, and this charming episode. In fact, since they were only doing three episodes, this one here would have been a better way to lead the series, and scrap that last one altogether.

Susan was the key. It would be easy, and lazy, and a little cliche to drop the Mulder/Sculley reference here, so I won't. What it's more like is a balance beam. On one end, you've got Dirk, who is, undoubtedly, insane. He believes so fully, revealed in this episode possibly only to prove himself to an old professor (one of those niggly little character developments that the kids are always talking about), in the interconnectedness of things, that it extends beyond reason. He follows leads and clues that bare no resemblance to anything of the sort, that any rational mind would dismiss or never pick up on in the first place. This inevitably leads to trouble, danger, and police involvement. To Dirk, a filing cabinet is never just a filing cabinet.

Susan is the counter balance; the stubborn, rational mind, built with no imagination. She's the sort that knows, 100%, that brain death is brain death, that there is no coming back. She's the sort that doesn't hesitate to take things at face value, with no examination at all, to disregard the trivial because it couldn't possibly have anything to do with anything. To Susan, a filing cabinet is always a filing cabinet.

MacDuff is the centre, leaning neither this way nor the other. As he states in this episodes, when asked to decide if he wants to move to Cambridge, "I don't want to have to decide." That is his role. He goes along with the strongest influence. Last episode, as we saw, when it is just him and Dirk, he follows along, getting pulled into every situation because he is incapable of forging his own direction based on his own opinion, becasue he doesn't have one. In this episode, he stands up to Dirk, but only at Susan's insistence. He also immediately caves to Dirk, when Dirk's commands overcast Susan's.

The presence of Susan not only serves to generate conflict within the characters, always good for development, that, but also to push the story along. If it's just Dirk saying crazy things, and no one to refute him, then we end up chasing strangers into pubs. With Susan there to question Dirk, he must stop and explain things, to defend his decisions. He will, undeniably correct, of course, but that shouldn't be a given just because his name's on the title card. Last episode tied together rather nicely, but along the way, it didn't really make sense. You couldn't see the path. Here, it is the opposite. The resolution itself is crazy, as crazy as the pilot, but the path makes sense. And, as Dirk himself discovers, "something that I have here until only strongly suspected, I am a great detective." He is properly brilliant, not just mad and lucky. As much as Dirk might like to believe in the interconnectedness of all things, it really isn't random. He just sees things we can't.

We also get a look at Dirk in love. While he still loves himself best, and of course falls hardest for someone who thinks as highly of him as he does, it is a humanising moment. Special mention goes to the lovely Lynda Wilson as Jane. She needs to be cast in many other things immediately, as she is the best kind of mousy and quirky. She's a short, female Matt Smith, and oh bother if they hadn't already cast another lady-girl for that gig.

One episode left. Let's see if they can make it best three out of four.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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