It’s been a strange, and not always consistent ride through the dark streets of Blackout – and now the final episode provides less of a conclusion than a symposium of tensions, concerns and themes. Daniel’s world is spiraling hopelessly out of control, and as it does so, each layer of deception is peeled away to reveal the ugly, disjointed truth beneath. Hushed conspiracy theories about mega-corporations dissolve into an unassuming Scottish man talking, quite calmly, about ‘pure’ capitalism. Everything will be sold – the battle is already lost. We suddenly seem to have stumbled into a Chuck Palahnuik novel.
As the series draws on, the parallels between Demoys and surrounding characters grow more pronounced; his toxic influence has corrupted his entire family. His wife is hiding murdered men’s phones; his oldest son is grappling with his father’s shame. Dalien, meanwhile, is now staggering through the night streets just as Demoys once did. The series begins with an alienated, confused man committing a murder, and ends with another alienated, confused man doing the same. The characters are clear echoes of each other, working backwards to the same point. This, at least, was handled elegantly, with Andrew Scott’s frenzied Dalien a perfect counterpoint to Eccelston’s beautifully understated Demoys.
At other points, episode three pushes into the realm of the unconvincing – the dialogue is staid, characters talking heads opposing each other in a long series of monologues that are both tiring and pretentious, frequent moments of ‘what the hell just happened’ bizarreness (dumped women, apparently, like to sit around painting their hands red. Okay, then.) attempting to come across as ‘really deep’ but just end up as silly. Throw in a couple of subplots that lead absolutely no-where, and you end up with an uneven final episode – add to this an abrupt, jarring final sequence and you are left with a nagging sense of dissatisfaction, and an ending that raises more questions than it answers.
Demoys’ decision to turn himself in seems arbitrary, rather than poignant – after all, only a few minutes earlier he and his wife were discussing fleeing the country. Are we really expected to believe that because one bent cop died, this shadowy mega-corporation is hopelessly stymied, forever? It would make sense if further retribution was waiting in the wings to silence Demoys, but there simply isn’t enough airtime to find out. Blackout showed great potential, and at turns delighted with its excellent acting and stunning visuals, but ultimately failed to deliver everything it promised.
Sadly, it’s not hard to see what’s at the bottom of this. Demoys’ struggles resolve itself into one dilemma: to privatise, or not to privatise? With the government’s current reforms of the NHS and other leading public service companies, Demoys’ defiant decision to give ‘power to the people’ comes off as a wish-fulfilment fantasy wrapped in a hollow cliché. Had he been battling unwilling elected politicians instead of shadowy corporate strawmen, it would, perhaps, have been more believable. To a generation of people who feel let down and lied to by the government, this is a flight of fantasy too far.