Sunday, 1 March 2015

Cucumber: Episode 5

"We built cages to keep ourselves civilised."

This is the first thing I've blogged with a little person sitting there sleeping in a bouncer next to us as she watched it. So, technically, the first programme my baby daughter watched was Cucumber. Appropriate or what? Anyway, this is still the best thing on telly right now.

We are alerted to the fact that things are entering a new phase by the difference in the framing device at the start: Henry's monologue takes place not in the civilised, safe, artificial environment of the supermarket, but in the wild and dangerous environment of the primeval forest. 

Henry's life has lost its moorings since that fateful night out; he has lost his relationship, his job, his money and his place in society, and has found himself making some questionable decisions as a result. This is the episode where the consequences of those decisions come home to roost.

Cleo is an extraordinary creation of a character, nuanced and real in a way that fictional characters rarely are. Her reaction to what Henry has been doing on YouTube is perfection in terms both in terms of script and performance. And this is a devastating revelation of the damage done by casually misogynist pornography, done just for fun, on the sexuality of adolescent girls. It's an extraordinary scene.

Elsewhere, Cliff is great as usual, and Henry's relationship with new boyfriend Leigh is quickly unravelling. Not only is Leigh alarmingly right wing, he also wants (gasp!) sex. Henry, being Henry, doesn't so much dump him but takes the easy way out by standing him up, choosing instead to get pissed with Freddie. He still has absolutely no chance with the young Adonis, of course, but the two of them have struck up a moving little friendship of sorts. But Freddie's parents have a few home truths for him, home truth for which he has no real answer. Structurally, this is clearly the episode where we are being invited to examine Henry's recent actions in the light of something big is about to happen. And I'm not just saying that because I've already seen the masterpiece that is Episide Six.

Lance is continuing to pursue the disturbingly laddish Daniel, whose denial about his sexuality is suffused with menace and the simmering threat of violence. Lance's chat in the office with Veronica, who thinks Daniel is weird, is a great big sign that things are going to go very badly wrong.

We end with a conversation between Hebry and Lance, a conversation which Henry badly mishandled. They part on bad terms, and things look ominous...

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