Thinking Out Loud
After last week’s thrilling and magical segment, Inside No 9 returns for another truly stunning episode, making it one of the dark horses of 2020 and on course to become one of the best series of the year. The tightly wound scripts, the intricately layered bites of dialogue and little red herrings and teases sprinkled throughout the 30 minute run-time make this a real force to be reckoned with and this week in particular, the series continues to deliver 5 star performances with another very good episode.
We begin episode 5 of Inside No 9 with Bill Ryland, a 65 year old looking to meet someone special. With a deadpan tone, he reads out a list of women he’s not interested in before telling the camera about his deceased wife Doreen and how their life took a turn for the worst. At the gym his personal trainer tells him he needs to get into video dating, hence the video he’s currently putting out for the world to see.
Next up is Nadia, a blonde haired, blue eyed lady who gossips about couples and relays a story about porn names. A therapist chimes in though and asks her how she felt talking about her Mum. It turns out both her parents are deceased but no one knows why. This brings us nicely onto Galen, a mentally unstable prison inmate who nonchalantly admits to murder. He was a victim of domestic abuse and this is what snapped in his mind, killing his Mother and Father. He tells the person behind the camera that he knows who she is and will treat them to “Southern Hospitality.”
Angel is a blogger and a social media influencer. She mentions someone online called Galenlandryfan making a joke and after she retweets the story with the help of Angel’s Army, she gets a private message telling her he knows where she lives. Aidan talks about his experience in life with a video directed toward his daughter. He calls her his “beautiful angel” and mentions Doreen – the one thread that seems to link all these stories – before making a catchphrase “quack, quack, oops”.
Diana is a choir singer and sings Amazing Grace. Yet, as she sings we cut to the other characters as they seemingly hear her voice and it appears to soothe them. Aidan looks the worse for wear as the song finishes and talks about hiring a singer. He then mentions signing up for a dating site before talking about one of his early videos where he admits he’d kill to keep her safe.
We then cut back to Angel doing a live AMA where she answers questions. As she leaves the room momentarily, in the corner is Galen himself who takes Angel’s seat. Suddenly, the therapist chimes in and hands him a piece of paper, asking if he knows Bill Ryland. We then cut to Nadia whose voice changes to that of Galen and the horrifying truth comes to light. She has multiple personality disorder and all these men and women aside from Bill are simply fragments of her own personality.
A fair amount of (arguably unnecessary) exposition follows as the therapist talks about her severe trauma and what led up to this chain of events. As the episode ends, Bill enters her house and she viciously stabs him until all the personalities materialize before her. She looks at what she’s done while brandishing a bloody knife, entranced by the lifeless body.
The masters of plot twists strike again and what a twist it was! Although some may bemoan this for going all M Night Shyamalan on us, the actual execution is what sets this one apart. The little red herrings – from the pin-up board of names and the “quack, quack” catchphrase (referencing Galen’s incarceration in a mental institute) are great inclusions and something that rewards those keen eyes that manage to pick out all the details.
The deadpan humour and satirical play helps to add some depth to an otherwise dark and bleak episode, suitably peeling away as the reveal at the end is revealed. This is ultimately what makes this episode so powerful and although personally the large amount of exposition here feels a bit unnecessary, it still helps to act as a serious hammer blow as the truth is revealed in all its shocking glory.
Quite what next week’s finale has in store for us remains to be seen but right now Inside No 9 is on course to become one of the best shows of 2020. After five seasons of material, creators Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith prove they can still deliver a killer script. Long may that continue!