The Hour returns *lights fag, pours a whiskey, cue the sexy jazz tunes*

by ameliareviews

(Quick spoiler warning, I will be having words about certain parts of the episode, if you don’t want to know, do not read on!)Image 

So in a haze of cigarette smoke so thick I’m surprised there aren’t more office accidents, The Hour landed back on our screens after being pushed back from its original summer release date. I will admit that I was a late comer to The Hour, having in fact only begun and finished the series this Monday, a true testament to the first series’ quality, given the fact that I devoured it in less than two days. I couldn’t tear myself away from the smartly written plot, the sexual tension between most of the characters, the smarting jealousy that I didn’t have a best mate that had made me up a nickname that I pretended to hate but secretly didn’t and, on a more shallow level, Ben Whishaw flouncing about the place looking incredibly hot, with his marvellously bouncy hair and scruffy 50s suits. So with all the joy and the shocking twist of the final episode still fizzing fresh in my mind I parked myself with a whiskey (cheers Lix!) and a flat mate to watch the latest episode. And, I am pleased to say, it did not disappoint.

Aesthetically, this series is something truly special. I spent most of the time lusting after Romola Garai and her fabulous pencil skirts. You get the impression that Romola was perhaps born in the wrong period, so well does she suit Bel’s bright cobalt blue wool suits. The entire colour palette is a visual treat from Marnie’s deceptively cheery pastel kitchen, hiding the bubbling anger at her oafish, womanizing husband Hector under a veneer of over obsessive pudding making and lilac, designed to keep up appearances to the smoky browns of the newsroom, where they all very clearly mean business. I was also particularly enamoured with the amazing spectacle that both Lix and Bel were giving, the former with her wonderful tortoiseshell creations, and the latter with her timeless 50’s cat eye frames.

But with all the visual feasts to enjoy, the show was still missing something. There was a lanky hole in The Hour newsroom and it was becoming increasingly apparent. 15 minutes on and anxiety was beginning to creep in. Thoughts were turning to ‘WHERE THE HELL IS FREDDIE? WHEN IS HE SHOWING UP? IS he showing up?! Can he come back off his holidays now, we all need him to come and be clever and sarcastic now!” But then, there it was, at 22 minutes and 36 seconds in (yes I may have looked it up precisely on iPlayer…) the ding of a lift sounded (accompanied with cries of FREDDIE FREDDIE FREDDIE FINALLY!) and out waltzed a silhouette in a way that was so cool and masterful I felt a little bit jealous I wasn’t him, brandishing a cigarette which he later stubbed out on the office notice board as if to well and truly mark that Freddie Lyon is back. The predominant thing to say about Freddie’s entrance is that HE HAS A BEARD. I felt like shouting “LOOK EVERYONE AT WHAT IS ON FREDDIE’S CHIN, IT IS A BEARD.” Lanky little Freddie all of a sudden looked like a grown up, a proper scary journalist who was here to ask the uncomfortable questions that needed to be asked and was willing to make politicians squirm. I couldn’t help but find myself wondering if the beard had been an artistic choice by Whishaw or was it just that he couldn’t be bothered to shave it off after his turn as Richard II for the BBC? In fact the beard seemed to become the all consuming topic of conversation, so odd and unexpected as it was.

The infamous beard. What possessed him we will never know.

One of the things that I loved about The Hour are the relationships that blossom and intrigue as, particularly the introduction of Peter Capaldi as new Head of News Randall Brown and his mysterious past with Lix, sassy queen of the foreign desk. What was the deal there, were they lovers? How much more will the sexual tension ratchet up? Will they end up getting it on perhaps live on air?! All of these important questions, I hope, will be answered and we won’t be left hanging in the same vein of Freddie and Bel. Talking of which, Bel seems to have realized, after the one being pined at, that perhaps Freddie might be the man for her, having spent most of last series ignoring any romantic thing he might ever have said to her and banging Hector on a sofa. The last series left me so desperate for Bel to realize her mistake and bang Freddie on a sofa instead. We all knew that she secretly wanted to. But instead we had to make do with Ben Whishaw displaying his wonderful talent of delivering longing looks across a newsroom floor, filled to the brim with desire and feel a bit heartsick that Bel was so blind that she couldn’t see it. As is always the way with love, it seemed Bel had realized what she wanted when she could no longer have it, as it emerged in a scene eliciting oooohs from myself and my viewing partners. Bel, having been advised by Lix to buy a bottle of wine and dance with an inappropriate man, promptly turned up at Freddie’s house with said wine and a rum baba for good measure. We sat with baited breath hoping that this FINALLY might be the moment in which we get the much desired super hot sex scene, only to have our hopes ruined by the appearance of a French bird with a pixie crop and no trousers on. Who is this, we all thought? Surely Freddie can’t have a girlfriend, what about Bel? Oh but it was so much worse than girlfriend. This was Freddie’s WIFE. Pure misery and disappointment clouded Bel’s face and Romola Garai beautifully portrayed the pain of someone who has just died inside but can’t let that show, running out into the street after gabbling some rubbish about a film with the same name as Camille. We all hurt for Bel in that moment, we all mourned the loss of the sex scene between her and Freddie that was now disappearing into the distance. And Bel did what any girl who had just had her heart stomped into tiny pieces, she got put on her pyjamas, put on the television, got drunk in the dark with the bottle of wine she should have been enjoying post shag and cried.

All in all, bar the drama of Freddie’s facial furniture and his Gallic missus, the episode was a slow burner but a greatly enjoyable one. It has put several wheels in motion with the potential to become explosive stories later down the line. Abi Morgan and crew, you’ve done it before, we are all sure that you can do it again.

Advertisements