The purpose of a season finale is to conclude the season’s story arcs and set up potential new ones for the next season…Harrow certainly achieved this effortlessly.
The episode kicks off with the case of the week in a way unique to Harrow. We see Tom (Joel Tobeck) walking around an office, looking out the window and watching a police car and ambulance van speeding down the street to an emergency of some kind, when Tom turns around we see that he has killed someone via stabbing. The choice to show the murderer and then his crime is not unheard of, although it’s not common either, but what truly makes this scene and the crime unique is when Tom makes the choice to commit suicide or so we think.
We then cut to the morgue where Harrow is about to confess his crime to a now deceased Jack only to be called away to the bodies of this week’s case. The atmosphere at this point is ominous as it’s unusually silent, the case is unusually simple and there is a strong focus on the fact that Harrow has placed his phone outside of the lab. Harrow continues with his pre-autopsy routine which abruptly ends when he makes the startling realisation that the murderer is alive and has unzipped his body bag, quickly making his way to Devlin’s body, grabbing the knife. This reveal, complete with the graphic wounds and the realistic and unsettling sound effects of broken bones, was executed beautifully.
The first half of the episode then focuses on Tom holding Harrow hostage as Harrow figures out that Tom’s wife, Katie, had two blood diseases and that Devlin diagnosed but couldn’t do anything for her. The performances between Tobeck and Gruffudd in these scenes were spectacular, with Tobeck perfectly pulling off Tom’s combination of a highly charged emotional state and horrific injuries (Tobeck actually informed me on Twitter that it was a very hot December day in Brisbane when these scenes were filmed), and Gruffudd perfectly balancing between a terrified hostage and a dutiful and skilled pathologist. However as thrilling as these scenes were, a subplot like this can only go on for so long before they become too much for a viewer to handle and need to have a satisfying ending. Tom’s leg finally giving way, which enabled Harrow to break the lab door and call for help, whilst just managing to keep Tom alive was the perfect ending.
Throughout the hostage subplot, scenes between Saroya and Simon are interweaved as they do their own investigation of Harrow as Quinn’s killer. Simon goes to Stephanie to ask her about the wedding ring, where it’s revealed that Quinn hit Stephanie hard and she was kept in the hospital overnight and the ring arrived in her mailbox two days after the murder. Whilst Saroya shows Nichols the pawn shop CCTV footage, unsuccessfully trying to convince him that the surgical shears in Harrow’s kit are those which severed Quinn’s finger. After trying their own methods to solve the murder, Saroya and Simon meet each other on the Bettie, an odd choice, comparing notes unaware that Fern is watching.
Simon and Saroya go their separate ways again, with Saroya finding the file that Harrow took from Dr Whittemore and Simon finding the key to Harrow’s surgical kit, which he opens just as Harrow returns and ultimately confesses to the crime.
My mother and I both watch and discuss Harrow and she said something interesting about non-American crime dramas—that they usually have a twist of some kind and it’s not always what you think it is—it’s not that American crime dramas aren’t like this at all, but they tend to focus more on the action, as I stated in my review of the pilot, Harrow is an intellectual slow burn rather than an action-packed wildfire. So following my mother’s logic, what is the twist in the story arc?
The first twist is in Harrow’s intention. While it was no surprise that Harrow killed Quinn and that Quinn did in fact molest Fern, what was a surprise was exactly how Quinn was killed. Harrow put two-and-two together when he saw Fern and Quinn together and he invited him to the Bettie, Harrow eventually gets Quinn to confess however he doesn’t take responsibility for the molestation and shockingly, he tries to kill Harrow to keep his secret. Harrow eventually kills him by strangling him. The contrast between the violence of Quinn and Harrow’s battle, and the level of calm as Harrow confesses to Simon was executed beautifully with the perfect amount of tension and thrill.
The second twist comes in the form of Simon making the choice to cover Harrow’s tracks to prevent his conviction of Quinn’s murder. While you could argue that this twist was a slightly obvious outcome as, if Harrow does go to jail there’s no show, at the same time, the twist was effective as it was executed quickly and injected character development into Simon, that being said the quick execution felt slightly unrealistic. As Harrow points out, Simon is too good a pathologist and now they are in it together. Simon has always been written and portrayed as a likeable character, and he still is, however now that he has made the same decision that Harrow made without a second thought and quick execution—essentially crossing over to the dark side—it will be interesting to see where his character goes next season and will make a great story arc. I have a feeling that Simon’s choice will come to bite Harrow in the arse at some point next season.
Once the dust has sort of settled, Harrow comes back to find Fern waiting for him on the Bettie, breaking down and finally telling her side of the story. The performances between Gruffudd and Newton in this scene were incredible, portraying the heartbreak between them in a realistic manner without going overboard. It will also be interesting to see where Fern goes next season, as while she will never get over what happened to her, she seems to have found a peace of sorts.
Just when Harrow and the audience think all is well, Harrow is enjoying a much-needed drink when the glass smashes in his hand from a bullet which lands in his torso. We see Harrow start to bleed but we don’t see his shooter and then it fades to black. While I’m not really a fan of season finales ending on a cliffhanger, it does mean that the next season shows promise as it will kick off with a thrilling start.
Overall this was one of the best season finales of a crime drama that I’ve ever seen—the season story arc was wrapped up, most loose ends were tied up, the cast performed brilliantly and flawlessly, and a story arc has been established for the next season. However on a minor note, I did find the ending to the case of the week slightly unsatisfying as it wasn’t made entirely clear whether Devlin really did stuff up. In terms of this episode’s MVPs, it’s a four-way tie between Ioan Gruffudd, Remy Hii, Joel Tobeck and Ella Newton. Overall as a first season, it was mostly well done and without fault, although it was slow to start but gained much needed momentum and traction when it approached the halfway mark.
I’m looking forward to reviewing Harrow‘s second season.