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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).

 

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.

 

 

Harrow–Season 1, Episode 7 (Pia Mater)

So this episode starts the shift from Fern drama to Stephanie drama.

The case of the week revolves around a mother and son double fatality. At the start of the episode we see a woman (Audrey) in her car on the side of the road, watching a ute speed past her and hitting a tree off-screen, with the mystery woman driving off. This raises the questions of who is she and why she drove off without helping or calling for help.

The case of the mother-son double fatality had a few interesting twists and turns from the homeless man who was a former police officer who was a suspect-turned-witness, to the reveal that Glenn (the son) was shot but survived with brain damage with the bullet both changing his personality from a psycho to an angel and back again. While I did suspect that there may have been an incestuous relationship between Glenn and his mother, Kerry, I felt that Kerry making the decision to commit a murder-suicide after the bullet travelling in his brain changed him back to a psychopath, was a logical outcome for this case. In fact it was the most intelligent outcome of a crime in a crime drama I’ve come across in a long time. Overall the case was a logical and strong one, especially with the progression of Glenn’s crimes from mutilating animals to killing Audrey’s best friend, to trying to kill Audrey, which led to Kerry making the murder-suicide decision.

The Robert Quinn subplot I felt was a little clunky due to the small and inconsistent amount of focus on it in the episode. First his car is found, Harrow is supposed to be kept in the dark but is informed by Fern and once it’s clear that he knows, everyone is quick to move on. Then Quinn’s phone is found, however anything useful isn’t found on it until the end of the episode. We are given more and slightly bigger cookie crumbs in this episode as Fern and Harrow clearly know what happened to him and the viewer has generally been left to assume that Stephanie was not involved and was completely ignorant to Quinn’s fate. However this theory is thrown on its head but not completely out with the reveal in the final moments of the episode that Stephanie left a threatening voicemail on Quinn’s phone, Harrow removed Quinn’s wedding ring, which was partially seen in the pilot, and that Stephanie has possession of the ring. Now the question remains as to how involved Stephanie was involved in Quinn’s death, especially as it’s starting to look like either her or Fern killed Quinn and not Harrow. Overall this was the best cookie crumb left for the viewers so far.

On smaller notes, I did enjoy seeing Harrow and Fairley having to work together, however their juvenile banter got old fast. Also, there was little to no Fern drama this week, the only real focus on her was the demise of her relationship with Callan. I don’t blame Callan for his decision and it will be interesting to see where the writers will take her now that she is no longer drug dealing and with Callan, and that the police are getting closer to figuring out who Quinn’s murderer is.

Overall this was a solid episode with a well-written case of the week and reduced Fern drama.

 

Stray Observations:

-Harrow still pays child support even though Fern is 18 and no longer legally required to.

-Saroya had a son who sadly passed away due to an aneurysm. This was a nice piece of character development, however it didn’t really add anything to the episode.

Best one liners:

  • “Are you stealing both our identities?” (Harrow to Fairley on the fact that Fairley is sitting in his office with Maxine’s mail in his hand).
  • “I don’t want to think about your pigeon hole” (Harrow to Fairley)

 

Harrow–Season 1, Episode 6 (Aarum Potestas Est)

After the tension and high stakes in the previous episode, this one in comparison seemed tame.

Nevertheless the start of the episode wasn’t tame in graphic nature with the case of the week kicking off with the discovery of a dismembered young woman on train tracks. For the most part I felt that this case was predictable—-it was obvious that Lotte didn’t kill herself by lying on the tracks, and it was obvious that her friend, Hartmann, would also be found dead. However what I didn’t see coming was the reveal of the perpetrator and Harrow’s subsequent kidnapping. While the kidnapping was unexpected, I felt certain elements to it were cliche, such as the perps threatening Steph to get Harrow to stop investigating.

This is the first time that the perpetrator is high profile and that while the murder is proven, no justice is served. Nichols perfectly summed up the case, “sometimes a bloke gets away with murder”. It is not unheard of in crime dramas to have an episode/s where a case is solved but not resolved as the perp gets away with it. It’s unsatisfying as a viewer, but realistic writing-wise as not all cases can be solved or resolved.

I think the case of the week was predictable to allow for the River bones subplot to develop further, especially now as the bones have been identified as cop, Robert Quinn, who also happens to be Stephanie’s ex-husband after Harrow. A lot of questions are answered now, such as why a debt collector showed up to Stephanie’s door and when exactly Robert came into her life. As Saroya has discovered that Quinn is both a cop and Stephanie’s ex-husband, she requested that the cremation of the bones be postponed and that request was granted, causing further conflict between her, Harrow and Stephanie, especially when she drops in on Stephanie unexpectedly.

I did wonder whether anything would come off of Robert’s toothbrush which Stephanie turned in. On one hand, if any DNA was found it adds another complication for Harrow, but on the other hand it would be too easy if there was any. No DNA being found serves the story arc more than any being found as it extends the length of the arc naturally. While it was obvious that Harrow wouldn’t admit to Saroya that he killed Robert, and we’re not overly sure if he actually has, it was a great moment of tension and I have feeling that him casually remarking that if he did “do you think anyone would ever know?” will be his downfall in a later episode, if not the finale.

Meanwhile, Callan finds a home for him and Fern, however it’s out of town. I felt that Fern’s reactions to Saroya and Harrow kissing, as well as Stephanie not answering her phone because she’s also “pre-occupied” would have served the episode and subplot better, if there was a more of an insight into her feelings on these matters rather than a look. At the end of the episode Fern leaves with Callan, so it will be interesting to see if they have arrived at the house in next week’s episode.

On a smaller note, Fairley was absent from this episode, according to Simon he’s in a Chado competition.

Once again, viewers are provided with another cookie crumb, this time in the form of Robert’s car being found in the river.

Overall this episode wasn’t bad but it wasn’t a strong one, a bit too tame and predictable.

 

Harrow–Season 1, Episode 5 (Non Sum Qualis Eram)

This week the Fern drama and the case of the week came together for the first time.

The drugs that Billie gave Fern in the previous episode ends up causing the death of a young woman, and puts others, including Billie himself, in the hospital. While the young woman who takes the drug falls to her death, the murder of a woman named Xantia occurs simultaneously elsewhere.

Of course the episode was bound to focus on Fern’s involvement and whether she would be held responsible and/or arrested. While Fern ultimately covered her tracks, the lack of foresight to cover Callan’s tracks led to her downfall, which I felt was the most realistic way to go about it. The fact that Fern resuscitated Billie, which set off a chain reaction of her turning in the pills, and Billie’s eventual death due to trying to evade police, not only shows that Fern is not a complete lost cause but also concludes that specific story arc of hers. It’ll be interesting to see what the writers will do with her next, especially as this episode marks the halfway point of the season, which is the perfect time for a fresh story arc and character development. Having Xantia suffocated with garden soil and the sweat element coming into it and connecting the drug overdose elements, was perfectly executed.

In the background of the combined Fern drama and case of the week, Harrow and Saroya finally have their first sex scene. While this moment was inevitable, I prefer crime dramas focus on the drama of the crime rather than any romantic subplot. Sure we need balance in the episode, but I don’t feel like a romantic subplot is really the way to go. I honestly thought that newcomer, Jill, was an ex-flame of Harrow’s due to her obvious tension and slightly suppressed anger towards him, however this wasn’t made clear.

In regards to the River bones case, it was barely focused on this week as the bones were sent off for cremation, however just like last week, the viewers are given more cookie crumbs when it’s revealed through Stephanie’s rummaging in the garage that she and the cop knew each other.

Overall, I felt that this was the best episode so far as it makes for a good half-season finale, not to mention that combining the Fern drama and case of the week added perfect tension and raised the stakes. It’ll be interesting to see where the second half of the season will go.

 

Stray Observations:

-Lindsay makes a re-appearance.

-Fairley trying to use voice recognition and Harrow subsequently teasing him about it was hilarious.

-Fairley describes Harrow as a fabulous pathologist and a painter.

-Harrow dropped out of school because his father died.

-Fairley gets a ticket due to Harrow stealing his car and parking it in the wrong zone. However Fairley is more upset about Harrow taking over his autopsy rather than the fact that he stole his car.

 

Best one liners:

  • “Whoever’s done this, I want them strung up by their thumbs and beaten like a pinata” (Fairley to the police on the person [Harrow] who stole his car. More than a one liner, but still hilarious nonetheless).
  • “Cavalier sidewalk surgery” (Maxine quoting the Deputy Coroner on Harrow’s choice to perform a procedure on the victim in the street).

 

Harrow–Season 1, Episode 4 (Finis Vitae Sed Non Amoris)

This episode interestingly focused more on the case of the week than Fern and the River bones.

The case of the week revolved around bones found in a backyard, where it is revealed that they belong to a young homeless woman, Sally (Zindzi Okenyo). While the most obvious suspect was quickly eliminated, what was interesting about this case was that the reveal of her murderer was delayed by the writers’ choice to explore the nature of homelessness through the documentary that Sally appeared in, the current life of Sally’s former partner, Phil (Damion Hunter), and Lindsay (Richard Green), a homeless man Harrow knows, asks for help and offers accommodation to.

Another interesting choice of the writers was the “is he or isn’t” aspect of whether Noah was really Sally’s son. With the DNA test revealing that Noah wasn’t Sally’s son, she comes across as a crazy woman through her actions. However when it is revealed at the end of the episode that she was a chimera and had two sets of DNA, and that Noah was her son, her actions and ultimately her death at the hands of her own son, due to the consequences of her seemingly irrational actions, are incredibly sad.

As I stated earlier, there was a less of a focus on Fern and the River bones. With Fern, the focus was on her and Callan getting caught by a security guard sleeping in another unknown building, however what was interesting about their squatting shenanigans this week is the fact that Fern is clearly beginning to tire of their lifestyle and she now has a job. She is clearly starting to see the light, or rather reality, however the origins of her feelings aren’t revealed. That being said she hasn’t completely grown up yet as she goes to Callan’s bully, Billie, to get pills to sell to re-pay him for money that was “stolen” by Callan, and she is happy to sleep in her mother’s shed but not happy enough to come home. The consequences of the pill selling will obviously be explored in later episodes.

While I did enjoy getting the back story of Stephanie and Harrow’s relationship, I found the “love square” of Stephanie, Saroya, Harrow and Jesse to be cheesy and cliche.

In regards to the River bones, the focus was on finding the surgeon who inserted the radius plate into the body. While the race between Saroya and Harrow to find the surgeon did provide a little bit of humour, I didn’t feel it really added any stakes until the end of the episode, when Harrow beat her to it just in time, with the reveal that the bones were that of a cop. This reveal gives the viewers some cookie crumbs to watch the next episode.

Overall a solid, but slightly slow paced episode. The writers should put the case of the week front and centre, rather than the focusing on the Fern drama more often.

 

Stray Observations:

-Fairley practices karate.

-Either Fern or Harrow kept money hidden in a photo frame, which is one of the most genius hiding places for money I’ve ever seen.

-Callan buys Fern a copy of the book she was seen reading in the photo of her and Harrow when she was a child.

-Nichols and Maxine are dating and both Harrow and Simon are repulsed by the idea.

-Stephanie is paying someone’s debt, most likely Fern’s.

Best one liners:

  • “You and David really have to stop reading 50 Shades of Innuendo” (Harrow to Simon)
  • “Morenumbingthanvalium.com” (Harrow to Fairley)
  • “Shabby man from the morgue” (Saroya to Harrow on Meredith’s description of him)