What total and utter nonsense.
More dramatic derring-do crammed into this episode than the previous four put together meant that The Deep finale zipped along at breakneck speed but neither the pace nor the pseudo-scientific (and appalling) dialogue could hide the sheer ridiculousness of everything about it.
I don’t really know where to start in terms of what happened other than to say it was one deadly crisis after another, so let’s just jump to the end: a lot of the characters died (eventually – it seems to have taken a couple of goes to get rid of two of them), while the rest of them were saved by the efforts of a crack rescue team of ghosts, beluga whales and Rubbish Captain Frances. Who is planning to “get another boat.” Surely not. There were good things about The Deep, and fair play to the BBC for having a bash at some expensive sci-fi drama, filming it in Scotland and paying for Dr Luka to be in it, but come on now. One poorly paced, ludicrously plotted and totally daft season is enough.
There was a point during this episode when I thought “It must be finishing soon. It MUST.” It turned out there were 19 minutes to go. Man, that was a long 19 minutes. And it was a looooooooooong hour.
What happened during it? Loads of super-boring stuff. Apart from the brief shoot-out, it was all ridiculously slow and dull. But mainly, we found out that Catherine discovered some super new “phylum” which is going to change the world because it can “metabolise cellulose and produce hydrogen with 75% metabolic efficiency.” Yeah, “EH?” was my reaction too. Apparently this means there is a “lava bug” super-deep in the ocean which, per the now completely crazy Clem, “eats crap, farts fuel.” Or “bad for the oil business, must be stopped”, paraphrasing Shady Raymond.
This meant a series of highlights including Crazy Clem going deeper than you ever can imagine into the ocean to get samples of the bug, Mad Captain Zubov trying to kill everybody, Arkady literally jumping ship to side with the Orpheus lot, Shady Raymond literally jumping ship to do the opposite and Rubbish Captain Frances whimpering and hugging Samson again. Is Crazy Clem dead? Will Svetland and Stas save each other? Will Catherine save the world? Only one more episode of this and we find out. Thankfully.
Some exciting and scary scenes in The Deep this week, what with the nuclear reactor on Volos (how many times did they say “Volos” incidentally? No Southland-style name problems here) threatening to blow, and various characters threatening to sacrifice themselves or other people to stop it.
So, in the face of all this mortal peril, Raymond and the Russians (which should totally be the name of a band) get to be shady, Samson gets to be noble and Clem gets to be a total liability – honestly, he may be right sometimes, but he never answers the com, he takes his own sweet time about everything, and he always does whatever he wants, no matter how many people might die in the process. Never mind hi-tech submarine equipment, I wouldn’t want him on board anything more dangerous than a bicycle.
Clem’s not the only total liability here though; the programme’s hour-long slot is also a major problem, meaning that, in between the exciting, entertaining bits this week, there are plenty of long, boring arguments to pad things out and give the viewer time to remember how nonsensical everything about this show essentially is. Still, nonsense and boring arguments aside, the writers do deserve some credit for all the twists and turns as to who’s going to live, die or come back from the dead. Although, given that they end up sacrificing exactly the person you’d think they would, maybe not as much credit as all that.
The Deep certainly knows how to do eerie; lots more creepy, atmospheric scenes this week. Sadly, though, The Deep doesn’t have a clue how to do story, characters or common sense.
“Pollution on an industrial scale and the violation of a UN exclusion zone” was a disappointingly prosaic answer to the ”what’s down there?” question (is it too late for it to turn out to be aliens after all?). The characters seemed more worried about their love lives than the body on the slab in front of them – the only one who seemed genuinely upset by Maddy’s death was Vince, who’s inherited her tendency to paranoid shouting. And the whole “just do the autopsy, even if you’re not a doctor” business was just plain ridiculous. Very silly stuff, indeed.
If we ignore the technobabble, The Deep can be summed up fairly easily – something nasty is hanging about deep in the Arctic ocean, miles under the ice. It did for the last bunch of scientist types who went down there (looking for the key to life, or some such). So another bunch go down to have a look (six months later, which seems a bit tardy), and – shocker – get into eerily lit strife as well.
“The people who went before us were never seen again, let’s see if we fare any better…” theme is a staple of tv and film drama, so it’s not like The Deep is revolutionary in principle or, this far anyway, in execution. The characters have pretty standard issues – Samson and Rubbish Captain Frances love each other but can’t be together, Clem is grieving for missing wife Catherine, Raymond is the shady outsider who knows something we don’t know – and the script mistakes jargon for credible dialogue too much of the time. What is surprising about it, however, is the almost entirely recognisable principal cast. Cold Feet’s James Nesbitt and Rome’s Tobias Menzies team up with Good Will Hunting’s Minnie Driver, and – the show’s major draw – ER’s Goran Visnjic, to go find out what happened to Mistresses’ Orla Brady. Meanwhile Sinead Cusack turns up for about 30 seconds (and a wave goodbye) as James’ Nesbitt’s mother-in-law, and Alisha from Misfits manages to annoy everyone some more. Factor in the expensive sets and special effects, and it’s clear BBC Scotland have put a fair bit of money and effort into this one.
And, y’know, flawed though it is, I did enjoy it. The atmosphere is nice and creepy, the pace is slow enough to build tension but not slow enough to be soporific, and although The Deep won’t win any Unpopcult awards for, well, anything, it’s perfectly watchable. The romantic sub-plot is dreadful, and I’m not at all bothered as to whether Goran’s character Luka makes a go of it with Minnie Driver’s but I’m mildly curious as to whether it’s a) an alien b) a monster fish or c) a top-secret military doo-dah causing all the havoc (I think we all know it’s not a “shoaling organism”) and who will still be alive by the end of series so I’ll give it another go next week.