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Harrow–Season 1 Finale (Mens Rea)

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.

 

 

 

 

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Harrow–Season 1, Episode 9 (Lex Talionis)

So we’ve reached the penultimate episode of Harrow‘s first season.

The case of the week focuses on Stan Wagner, an elderly man from the Czech Republic, who is smothered to death in the nursing home he lives in. Most of the episode is set in the nursing home as Harrow and Jack conduct their investigation, from making observations on Stan’s body, to discovering one of the nurses, Rallings (Dan Ewing) is a white supremacist who mistreats the residents, to ultimately discovering that Wagner was Nazi and had a connection with another resident, Mrs Adams (Maggie Blinco) a Hungarian Jew during WWII, who ultimately killed him. The revelation that Mrs Adams killed Wagner due to him deciding the fatal fate of her sister, and the audio flashbacks of Auschwitz were thrilling and well executed. In all honesty, I found the outcome of the case surprising, but in a good way, as this is a murder you don’t usually see committed in crime shows.

The episode didn’t just kick off with the case of the week, it also kicked off with Saroya seeing Jack whilst the crime was being committed. Saroya visits to ask Jack questions about Harrow, showing her doubts of his character, where he tries to reassure her but also evades her questions. During her visit, we’re also given Jack’s back story, with the reveal that him and his wife, Pamela, couldn’t have children.

Saroya isn’t the only one having doubts about Harrow’s character, Simon also starts to lose trust in Harrow as Maxine discovers an issue with the office login system and asks for Simon’s help to clear it up. He reassures her, only to ask for help from tech support. Whilst he waits for answers, he distances himself slightly from Harrow, putting the words “think twice before you answer” over his caller ID photo of him. I felt that Simon’s distrust was played beautifully by Hii, it will be interesting to see how it’s played out in next week’s finale as it wasn’t fully resolved in this episode.

The build up of Fern being Quinn’s murderer was ultimately resolved when it was finally revealed that she didn’t kill him as she was bailing Callan out of jail at the time. The scenes between Callan and Nichols were slightly comedic with Callan fooling Nichols into giving him the chance to call both Fern and Harrow to warn them about the investigation. Callan has generally been used a minor character, however this episode is the first time he is actually a three dimensional character as he tries to help Fern and Harrow and reveals his concerns for Fern to him, which marks the first time Page-Lochard and Gruffudd have shared scenes together. I felt that these moments were well executed and long overdue.

In the background of the Quinn homicide investigation and the case of the week are minor moments which are leading to Harrow possibly being revealed as Quinn’s murderer, such as Fern paying Lewison to decipher a mystery phone number, which leads her to discover a phone box by the pier where Harrow’s yacht is, and Simon finally hearing from tech support what the issues were with the logins. The episode ends with Saroya looking at the surveillance footage of Fern and Harrow in the pawn shop, which was a scene shown in the pilot, and seeing the surgical pliers from Harrow’s surgeon kit.

Overall this was a solid penultimate episode with a solid case of the week, Maxine accepting Nichol’s marriage proposal, Jack’s death, and more clues leading to Quinn’s murderer, which looks like Harrow, however this still to be confirmed. Despite the main cast doing a terrific job as always, the episode’s MVPs are the guest cast—Maggie Blinco for her gripping and realistic portrayal of Mrs Adams, and Dan Ewing for his brief but convincing portrayal of a white supremacist.

I’m looking forward to reviewing next week’s finale and finding out whether Harrow did in fact murder Quinn, especially as it has been implied but so far all of the evidence is circumstantial.

I would also like to congratulate the cast and crew for being renewed for a second season.

 

 

Stray Observations:

-Jack’s investigative skills are finally shown when he works with Harrow to solve Wagner’s murder.

Best one liners:

  • “We’d all break the law for the right reasons” (Jack to Saroya).
  • “No I’m dead, I decided to haunt you through the mobile network” (Jack on the phone to Harrow).
  • “Harrow’s not the only rebel around here” (Fairley to Saroya).

 

Sando–Season 1 Finale (Family Business)

As it’s the season finale, this episode kicked off with a Sando’s ad, only Tony’s version for a current ad.

The contrast between the Sando’s ads from the 90s and Tony’s ad and plans for Sando’s now and in the future were clear as day. Obviously the board weren’t going for it and before they could tell him this, Sando walks in and tries to win them over. She makes a deal to shoot the ad and if they don’t like it, she’ll go on her own accord.

Sando then has to complete the task of convincing her family members to participate in her old ads again. Susie refuses as Sando’s Warehouse is her competitor and Kevin has sold his car to invest in her company, Don refuses as Nicky got him a singing gig at the same time, and Eric refuses as he’s too upset over Nicky rejecting him. However she eventually gets the numbers as Eric is jealous at the thought of Vic Junior taking his place, Don sees the ad as an opportunity to promote his song to a larger audience than the singing gig would provide, and Kevin’s car was stolen and the buyer wants his money back so Susie has no other options.

The scenes of Sando and the family filming the ad gives an insight into their dynamic and what it’s like being a famous family. However this isn’t the highlight of the episode, the highlight of the episode comes right after this when Susie joins in.

The secrets come out and the story arcs of the season come to a head when Rian overhears Don and Sando via the studio headset talking about sleeping together, which leads to Susie telling Nicky this information over the phone, then Tony comes in and asks Susie how Sando convinced her to do the ad, which leads to Tony revealing that Sando’s assets are frozen and she can’t give her the money she needs, which leads to Susie losing it during filming with Eric following her lead moments later, and Nicky arrives to confront Sando, which leads to her telling Eric about the affair and Susie finding out, which leads to a brawl between them all. This chain of events was pulled off seamlessly, with every emotion portrayed realistically and beautifully.

The episode then cuts to an ABC News Breakfast crossover with Sando making an appearance revealing the edited ad, complete with the brawl, as part of her “re-branding strategy” changing Sando’s Warehouse to Crazy Sando’s. Sando then reveals that Susie is the head of the company, with Kevin and Gary working for her.

The episode and the season ends on a rather dark note with Susie partially revealing she plans to destroy Sando, Tony being fired, Eric being admitted to a mental hospital of some kind after a breakdown, and Nicky having opened her therapeutic practice and revealing to an unknown person over the phone that she’s writing a tell-all about the family. Obviously these moments were hinting at time jumps and possible story arcs for the next season, if the show is renewed. The episode and the season also ends in a full circle of sorts as the pilot started with an old Sando’s ad and this episode and the season ends with Sando turning on the TV to watch her new Crazy Sando’s ad with Don.

Overall this was a well done season finale as all the story arcs for this season were successfully concluded with no loose ends, while the final minutes of the episode perfectly set up story arcs for the next season. Whilst the season overall got off to a shaky start by going overboard with outlandish jokes and slapstick moments, but thankfully turned a corner at the fourth episode where the season focused more on the family dynamic, character and subplot development, which lead to a natural and fitting season finale.

I’m hoping this isn’t the last I see or review of Sando.

 

Stray Observations:

–This episode marks a crossover with Sando appearing on ABC News Breakfast.

Best one liners:

  • “Vomiting my guts up at the back of our yacht at the start of the Sydney to Hobart was not a good look.” (Sando to the board).
  • “Mentally he’s still in year 8” (Don describing Eric to Nicky).
  • “How can I advertise furniture when my heart is broken” (Eric to Sando).
  • “Eric’s walking like a re-animated giraffe!” (Sando to Susie)

Sando–Season 1, Episode 5 (Lockdown)

Again the episode kicks off with a 90s-ish Sando’s ad, this time focusing on dodgy furniture contracts.

This episode mainly focuses on Don and Sando as they are locked in Don’s “man cave” for most of it, both of them needing to escape as they have important events to attend–Don, his first pub gig, and Sando, the board meeting. While this is a simple and cliche premise, it worked well for this episode as it allowed for character development. Don and Sando resolved some of their issues and ended up having sex, but didn’t end up getting back together.

While they eventually escaped by going through the floor and eventually made it to their respective events, the character development achieved while in “lockdown” goes one step further with Sando as she decides to miss the board meeting to attend Don’s gig, proving that she can be selfless. Another interesting moment is when Sando finds herself attracted to him, voices it and Nicky hears her, feeling threatened, however this isn’t addressed in the episode. Not surprisingly, Don’s gig fails him when he tries his original songs but he ends up succeeding by embracing his jingles as Sando and the rest of the family suggested.

The B subplot was just ridiculous with Rian finding an old picture of Susie when she had pointy goblin-like ears and of course she assumes Susie is a goblin and puts herself in “lockdown” in her closet. While it’s natural for a child her age to see something like this and make such an assumption, what’s unnatural and ridiculous is Gary falling for it, even Eric doesn’t fall for it. Eventually all is sorted, just in time for Don’s gig. In all honesty, while it provided an insight into Susie, this subplot didn’t add anything else to the episode.

Overall this was a good episode, especially as the family were brought together and seemed happier. The unresolved moments of Sando’s decision to not attend the board meeting, Susie meeting with Kevin as a potential investor for her business, and Nicky’s insecurity about having Sando around Don, provide a great springboard for the finale.

 

Stray Observations:

–Vic Junior hates kids.

Best one liners:

  • “I’ve been banned from TAFE” (Eric).
  • “You’re not high from sniffing a Birchgrove lounge set are you?” (Sando to Tony).

Sando–Season 1, Episode 4 (Therapy)

In my previous review, I asked for improvement in the second half of the season and this episode certainly showed promise.

The episode kicks off again with a 90s-ish ad establishing the episode’s theme–hypnotism.

Susie wants Sando to have a therapy session with Nicky to get her to change, during this session Nicky tries to get Sando to open up, even trying to manipulate her, but to no avail as Sando outwits her. When she hypnotises Sando into being a selfless person, the A story is established.

Sando gives Susie her cup of tea, offers to get Kevin to stop coming around, does the grocery shopping, cooks breakfast for everyone, and motivates Kevin to become a pilot. Of course everyone in the family is surprised by her selflessness and enjoys it until she decides to have a family dinner, which includes Kevin. It is at this dinner that tensions are brought out into the open, specifically between Susie and Gary, which leads to Susie ordering Nicky to change Sando back to the way she was. She seems to do so, only for her to apparently make things worse as Sando puts the house on the market the next morning.

It is at this moment that Sando reveals she was faking being hypnotised the entire time and calls everyone out on their feelings for her brilliantly in one sentence–“you need me because I make you feel better about yourselves”. This moment shows great character development and writing as it shows Sando is aware of what everyone really thinks of her and it also displays the other main characters’ flaws.

The B story has Kevin and Gary meeting for the first time and becoming friends to Susie’s chagrin. Kevin makes an appearance seemingly trying to win Susie over with his delicious biscuits, when in reality he actually tried to win over Vic Junior’s teacher. He is also more supportive of Susie’s business ideas than Gary and displays his I.T. skills, which makes Gary feel threatened, until he sees Kevin’s sports car, which Kevin allows him to take a spin in. I at first thought that Kevin was trying to manipulate Gary to win Susie back, especially during the dinner, but in reality he cares about them deeply and probably did both of them a favour by getting their tensions out in the open. I appreciated that the writers avoid the “ex-boyfriend-trying-to-win-his-girlfriend over” cliche, and I’m looking forward to seeing where Kevin’s friendship with Gary and Susie goes.

Overall this episode was a huge improvement from the last one, with improved writing and character development and going without the outlandish jokes.

 

Best one liners:

  • “This is the hardest session I’ve ever had to do since I had to convince Eric the tooth fairy isn’t a real girl” (Nicky to Sando on their therapy session).
  • “Alright settle down Pete Evans!” (Susie to Nicky)
  • “A pilot can’t risk getting accidentally hypnotised” (Eric to Rian when he puts his sunglasses on during Nicky’s second hypnotherapy session with Sando).

Sando–Season 1, Episode 3 (New Mum)

While Sando has been filled with outlandish jokes, unfortunately in this episode the A story itself was outlandish and ridiculous, which brought down the episode and made it a failure.

The episode kicks off with its usual 90s-ish Sando’s ad of an “out with the old, in with the new” sale, which of course is the theme of the episode. We then see Sando on the phone with Tony, she is talking about Susie coming back to the business and Tony is altering the Sando’s logo to feature his face, which I know will be focused on in a later episode. We then cut to Sando and Eric talking at the pool, with Sando providing a backstory on Susie’s business skills and talent, which again will most likely appear in a later episode, but let’s get back to this one.

Sando catches Don and Nicky in the act, which leads to her blackmailing them into convincing Susie to let her stay longer. While the blackmail was pulled off well, it’s a shame no more came out of it. Shortly after this deal is made, Gary admits to Don that he is addicted to skinny dipping. While a skinny dipping addiction is ridiculous and Gary’s confession to it is a little cheesy, it did provide some great comic moments, such as when Gary near falls off the wagon and wants to dip his toe in, and when Gary actually does fall off the wagon to his relief and everyone’s shock.

However the skinny dipping addiction isn’t what makes the A story outlandish and ridiculous, it was Susie’s desire to divorce Sando and subsequently ask Nicky to adopt her and be Rian’s grandmother. Nicky obviously can’t adopt Susie and Rian’s teacher going along with this charade was unrealistic. Nicky becoming addicting to darning, wearing glasses and acting like a grandmother was both funny and ridiculous.

Meanwhile, Eric, hoping to take over the family business, applies to work at one of the Sando’s stores, where he is immediately hired by Mikal (Michael Denkha) once he makes his identity clear. While it was obvious that Eric would do a bad job, it was hilarious to see his downfall, not to mention it was good to see that Sando is capable of conducting business and being selfless at the same time, even if the intentions were dubious.

While I’m critical where I need to be when I’m reviewing, I’m not usually this scathing. The reason why I’m so scathing of this episode is not only the obvious ridiculousness of the writing but the fact that the characters themselves, mostly Don and Sando, point out how ridiculous the A story actually is. While you could argue that the writers and characters are poking fun at themselves, it’s one thing to poke fun, another to completely ridicule.

Hopefully there’s improvement in the second half of the season.

 

Stray Observations:

Here Come the Habibs alumni, Michael Denkha (Fou Fou) and Sam Alhaje (Toufic) make an appearance.

-Vic Junior didn’t make an appearance.

-Don doesn’t like Gary calling him dad.

 

Best one liners:

  • “You guys would make terrible teenagers” (Sando to Don and Nicky).
  • “I wore my best interview socks” (Eric to Mikal).
  • “Is it because I eat beef stock cubes in bed, because I can stop!” (Gary to Susie when she announces she wants a divorce).

 

Harrow–Season 1, Episode 8 (Peccata Patrisi)

Refreshingly, this episode had three subplots and didn’t put the Quinn subplot front and centre.

The episode kicks off with a rower discovering the body of a young fellow rower, Rhys Weir (Earl John) who has seemingly slipped and hit his head on the pier, but of course it’s not that easy. We are given the all-too obvious red herring of Rhys being on the receiving end of a nasty comment on Instagram after unintentionally breaking his school’s 8-year winning streak in the scull, just before the reveal that Rhys was openly gay. While the case feels garden variety at first with obvious red herrings being dealt with, the discovery of Rhys’ seminal plasma hypersensitivity, or semen allergy, made it interesting.

While it was clear that one of his best mates, Ash (Jon Prasida), Luke (Jack Stratton-Smith) who wrote the nasty comment on Instagram, or Sean (Joe Klocek) was involved in his murder, there was still the matter of finding out who. While Luke seemed like the obvious choice due to his nasty comment and reluctance to co-operate when Saroya and Harrow questioned them, it became clear from the moment his father, Julian (Ben Wood) nastily shut them down that it became obvious that was Sean was involved somehow.

When Simon and Harrow discover that Rhys didn’t hit his head at the pier, but at the water feature at the Paulson’s home, Sean folds and tells the truth. The tension between Sean and Julian as Sean confessed and Julian tried to stop him, looking as though he was about to blow at any moment, was played out beautifully, especially by Klocek, he has a bright future ahead of him.

However the highlight of the episode comes when Julian tries to attack Sean when he confesses that Julian was ultimately responsible, and Simon defends him. In this moment, a major amount of character development with Simon is shown in a brief and subtle moment and Hii’s performance in it was brilliant. We find out that Simon can defend himself because he had to and he laments that the world hasn’t changed all that much in regards to accepting homosexuality. I’m hoping in the remaining two episodes there is a little more character development with Simon as he spends most of his time alternating between being Harrow’s and Fairley’s sidekick.

Meanwhile, there was a lot of action on the Robert Quinn front. Quinn’s skull was found at the bottom of the river, Nichols had Stephanie under surveillance, Stephanie’s home was searched after Saroya admits to seeing her with Quinn’s wedding ring, and Saroya asked Fern questions when they ran into each other on Harrow’s yacht, which also marks their first interaction. Just when I thought this episode actually wouldn’t be giving the viewers any cookie crumbs, especially when Harrow managed to prevent Saroya from discovering his missing surgical pliers, we are given one at the end of the episode when it’s revealed that Stephanie was in hospital on the day Quinn disappeared, and that Fern slashed the right side tyres on Quinn’s car. Although the Quinn subplot was dispersed well throughout the episode, I felt that these reveals were rushed due to the fact that there are only two episodes of the season remaining.

Another highlight of the episode was the Maxine subplot. At the beginning of the episode we see her autopsy skills on display and she herself reveals to Harrow that it’s the first one she has done in 7 years, and we also see her managerial backbone in play as she puts Fairley in his place. We also see Nichols’  romantic side when he leaves Maxine a message and proposes to her at the end of the episode. Sadly, I see their romance ending as Maxine didn’t inform Nichols of her job offer to begin with and laughed at his proposal, that being said I’m hoping I’m wrong.

Overall this was one of the best episodes of Harrow with a strong and heartbreaking case of the week, strong emotional performances by Klocek and Hii, and plenty of reveals in the Quinn subplot to keep the viewers in suspense for the upcoming penultimate and finale episodes.