Blackout returns to our screens with a solid, if uneventful, second episode. Things continue to unravel for Christopher Eccleston’s tortured Daniel Demoys, who is attempting to cleanse himself of both murder and addiction. This guilty secret, as any film noir fan could tell you, is just waiting to come out. The creators of Blackout don’t bother subverting this expectation, with the second episode picking up smoothly where it left off.
Newly-sober Demoys is now Mayor, juggling his new-found political powers with frosty family dinners and desperate night treks through the city. Instead of drunken parties with prostitutes and corrupt business men, however, his actions have a more sinister purpose – to tie up any loose ends from his last night of blackout.
Throughout the episode, the audience are presented with a flashing assortment of locations and dialogue that, instead of fresh or exciting, feel all too much like an unimaginative rehash of the previous instalment. The dark alleyways, shadowy boardrooms and badly-lit clubs – the recriminations between erring husband and hurt wife – feel claustrophobic, lacking a sense of progression, or relevance.
Demoys is a magnetic, if hapless protagonist. In boardrooms, at family dinners, in bars, he is unrelentingly the focus of both camera and society. Now a powerful man, his attempts at action are constantly stymied by the conflicting expectations of others. He is called upon to guard, guide and protect too many people at the same time – to play too many parts in this drama that is all about him. He cannot stay faithful to his wife while satisfying his mistress’s need for emotional intimacy; he cannot keep Ruth Pullis and Dalien Bevan safe, while also hiding his own part in their investigations. The plot, and the character, stagnates as he strives to maintain equilibrium.
Far from the thrilling political drama episode one promised us, episode two seems to be moulding itself into a more personal examination of damaged men who tear their families apart. Andrew Scott’s character gets much more screentime here, with his unfailingly creepy cop-with-issues a delightful parallel to Christopher Eccleston’s politician-with-issues. The broken home, it seems, knows no class or country. Demoys tore his family apart with drink and murder, and Scott’s slightly unhinged Dalien Bevan shows clear boundary issues. The obvious effect it has on the men’s families is at times hard to watch, but it leaves us wondering what exactly the point of it all is.
Blackout is in the grip of an identity crisis; it seems constantly about to deliver a damning verdict on this country’s political system, but, whenever things get too deep, veers away into a directionless montage of ‘broken Britain’. Second parts of three-part dramas are usually slower in pace; Blackout seems in no hurry to disprove this rule, with a couple of achingly predictable plot twists do little to heighten tension. We can only hope that next week’s episode will be a return to form, with Demoy’s inevitable downfall providing some interest, at least.