Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Harper's Island: Thwack

Thwack (Episode 5)
Directed by
Written by
First aired 9 May 2009
Rating: 7/10

For the previous episode, please "Bang."
For the following episode, please go "Sploosh."

[Spoilers below.]

This episodes highlights fathers and daughters. Trish and Thomas Wellington bond after getting knocked off their bicycles--and the path--by a large tree trunk, while Abby actually bonds a little with her dad Charlie. It's rehearsal day so appropriate as father is preparing to give away the hand of daughter. The episode also features dogs, secret obsessions, the first body discovery, the first public death, my first serious suspicion and a surprise killing at the end (that made me jump a little).

As predicted, expendable bridesmaid Lucy's little dog is spotted loose on the island. Not as rabid as I'd hoped, the little yapper nonetheless leads Trish and daddy Wellington to near death. Battered and bruised, though their make-up still perfect, the two bond over their hobbling back to civilization, while encountering and killing a vicious dog let loose by a forest stranger. Mr. Wellington seems finally to be accepting Henry, and in a fit of anger Trish tells him that stepson Richard is sleeping with his latest wife. "I am such a cliché," Wellington says, which is probably what makes his character so appropriate to the series.

Meanwhile Abby attempts to bond with her father, Charlie Mills. She learns Charlie and Jimmy are actually buddies, and while breakfasting with the pair actually seems to have a good time. She goes over to daddy's house, her old home, to look over some of her things, and discovers that Charlie is secretly investigating a new set of murders possibly linked with John Wakefield. Creepy stuff.

And then I decided that Jimmy is the killer. For one thing, he's a nice guy, likeable and hence not suspicious. Also, he doesn't have an obvious motive and the writing isn't placing him in the spotlight of murder, focusing his character on his love for Abby. Moreover, Abby confides in him, and the heroine confiding unknowingly in the killer is a standard thriller trope. She confides in him of her father's obsession, while he is Charlie's only friend (it would appear), and except for the fact that Charlie is tirelessly investigating the crimes I might suspect that the two were working together. Moreover, Jimmy is an island labourer, an expert at chopping up fish, and therefore practiced enough to chop up human limbs as well.

Part of me was secretly hoping Henry was the killer, but he has no motive and really, that would be quite weak. So what is Jimmy's motive? Maybe Wakefield was his father and he's avenging the man's death. Maybe he's possessed by Wakefield's spirit. Maybe he's just doing what the Tarot deck (or the writers & creators) are making him do.

More fingers are being pointed to Henry's brother J.D., which is a bit wasted as he's not the killer, though he is certainly up to no good. More dead animals are featured with the dog mentioned above and a raccoon left torn apart in the church. J.D.'s firecracker is found at the site, which is supposed to make us suspect him, but we've seen enough mysteries to know it's never the one linked to the most obvious of clues. Yes, he was washing blood from his hands, but there's likely another explanation. Strangely, nothing is made of the fact that he seems not to care that Kelly hanged herself. I guess he has that affect on people.

Finally, the concluding death was effective in surprising me twice: first by its suddenness despite the obvious build-up, and secondly because I was surprised to see that character eliminated at this early stage. This death along with the discovery of Reverend Fain's chopped up body will surely change the course of the show. Now it is undoubtedly clear to all guests that a killer is among them. Or near them. You'd think they'd call the mainland for help... or perhaps the remaining eight episodes will take place in only a few hours. Whereas each episode, so far, has elapsed through the course of one entire day.

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