The killing: from Dublin gangland to the American 'Homeland'
TELEVISION:Spoiler alert for fans of ‘Love/Hate’, ‘The Killing’ and ‘Homeland’ – but then again, what are you waiting for?
Apologies to those who have recorded the final episodes of Love/Hate (RTÉ One, Sunday), The Killing (BBC Four, Saturday) and Homeland (RTÉ Two, Tuesday) to watch over Christmas, because this is going to be one big spoiler.
On second thoughts, I take back that apology, because what’s the matter with you if, after weeks of following these tense, top-class telly dramas, you couldn’t find a couple of hours to see how they ended? I couldn’t have gone one more minute without knowing how The Killing turned out.
The final episode of Love/Hate felt like a midseason series hiatus, not a finale, and it ended like the last series, with the best-looking crim getting shot. To save himself, Nidge (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) shopped Darren (Robert Sheehan) to the republican crime boss (a menacing Seán McGinley).
It was a brilliantly acted, compelling, claustrophobic scene, but choosing Darren out of all his henchmen to take the blame seemed an unlikely ending in what was a disappointingly slight, simple big-crim-seeks-and-gets-retribution plot.
It felt inconsistent with Nidge’s crafty character and his reliance on Darren throughout the series. The episode, like the series, belonged to Vaughan-Lawlor. His vacillation between his usual kingpin swagger and his terror during his meeting with the republicans in Dundalk was riveting , as was his realisation that he is now owned by them and that the life he had known is over. You’d nearly feel sorry for him – if you could forget the scene in a previous episode in which he bludgeoned Tommy into brain damage with a golf club, quite the most vicious thing I’ve seen on TV this year.
Love/Hate is masterful in its depiction of gangland Dublin, it pulses with energy and a gritty realism we haven’t seen before, and it showed a level of violence that was breathtaking in its intensity – made all the more disturbing because the newspaper headlines during the course of this short series gave a truth to the writing. And it’s made with such skill and technical smarts that it’s not surprising it has been sold abroad.
Series three also showed a confidence in the writing (by Stuart Carolan) and direction (by David Caffrey) that was missing in the first series, which was stuck between not quite knowing whether to glamorise or demonise Dublin’s gangland.
But the women characters – and Love/Hate features some of our best young female actors – were sorely underwritten. Any time they were given even a scrap of something to do they grabbed it and held the screen, Nidge’s wife, Trish (Aoibhinn McGinnity), comforting him in her own confusion in their bedroom as he broke down being an example.