After several weeks flirting with similar themes, the most tech-savvy drama on telly tackles social media, censorship and the rancid cesspool of hatred that passes for online discussion these days in earnest this week, as Neil Gross tasks Diane and co with writing terms of service for his various media platforms (essentially Facebook, Twitter and Reddit with less catchy names), and it all goes haywire. Or not, depending on your perspective – I suppose, if you’re Neil Gross, it goes entirely to plan.
The story gives everyone a chance to do a lot of slightly artificial talking/ yelling – I’m looking at you, Julius – in order to illuminate/ educate the audience on the issues involved, and it’s all exceptionally intelligent, thoughtful and balanced in a way that’s still clear about what’s right and wrong (unlike far too much news media nowadays). Unfortunately, it also, of necessity, means the audience having to sit through a lot of nastiness in the form of various deeply unpleasant alt-right talking heads and some “f***ing asshole” called Staples whose appeal to the Reddick and co panel takes up about a third of the episode, and is brilliantly done but, as a result, drove me absolutely nuts. I can’t emphasise enough how much I admired this episode and what it achieved, but the truth is that Staples and his ilk are so repulsive and so depressingly realistic that, despite plenty of humour, his scenes aggravated me significantly more than they entertained me. I swear that’s a compliment – this clearly wasn’t supposed to be a simple, entirely easy episode to write or watch – but it doesn’t make it an episode I’d be in a hurry to watch again. Even if Diane and Adrian are absolutely awesome.
As, in fairness, were Carrie Preston’s Elsbeth who, along with Lucca’s beau Colin – who frankly deserves better than her Kalinda-lite hot’n’cold schtick – is currently performing Herculean feats by redeeming the Rindell story, and Marissa and Jay who are an adorable investigating team and need to do everything together forever from now on, thank you please. If anyone’s looking for another spin-off….. J&M Investigations? Just a thought.