'The Enigmatic Mister Pyre' - a Chapter title straight out of a Dickens novel, leads us further into the candlelit horror of 'Blood and Bone China'. Bringing forth some new and fascinating characters, and getting us reaquainted with those we met in Chapter 1, this is where the story really takes off. It's also where the series starts to really show off, too.
Chapter 2 - 'The Enigmatic Mister Pyre'
Opening with yet another glorious montage - a rising sun, stuffed animals and skulls, a long-abandoned cup of tea, and yet another token candle - we are then thrust straight into the heart of this mystery. Newlyn Howell has been given much of the information the audience already knows off-screen, to save on time and repetition, and the enigmatic bearer-of-bad-news from Chapter 1 is revealed to be a close friend of the late Richard (the 'Mister Pyre of the title, in fact), just a minute and a half into the episode.
The producers of this show get their audience. They aren't trying to make something overly-serious and gently-paced. They understand that this series has got to hold the attention of its' viewership, lest they log off and find something else to do. At the same time, the story is handled with care, and the writers make sure that all, or most, of the plot holes are avoided. For instance, Richard is killed off simply because he needed to die for the plot to unravel, but his death isn't forgotten or papered over - Newlyn discusses funeral plans, viewing the body, even giving the mysterious Mr. Pyre a brief bit of history on he and his late kin's relationship. In fact, the whole episode furthers the plot through exposition, and yet it almost hurts to see it done so brilliantly. Never has two characters standing in a room spurting plot at each other been so entertaining!
And the Chapter is, essentially, a two-hander between Newlyn Howell and Pyre. Anthony Miles adds more layers to Newlyn, giving him a backbone without losing that fallible edge. It's an endearing performance, and cements him as the likeable hero of the piece.
John James Woodward, as Pyre, is much more straight-laced, and even a bit dark. There are certainly shades to his character, and Woodward makes sure that he doesn't come across as entirely trustworthy.
In terms of the direction, this Chapter certainly ramps things up a notch. The beautiful dawn in the opening shot, the train chugging along the countryside, and, my favourite, the macabre residence of Newlyn's brother. Chris Stone bleeds every bit of menace out of the sequences inside the house, and utilises the shadows in a Nosferatu-esque way. It's a glorious bit of film, and the ending is suitably shocking...Another winner!
Chapter 3 - 'Anna of the Six Towns'
I love 'Doctor Who'. It's my favourite thing in the whole wide world. And I think the creators of this series like 'Doctor Who' as well. They like it so much, that they take inspiration from the show without ever ripping it off or sending it up - rather, they twist the elements they have taken and mould it to fit their own series. It's nicely done, and lots of fun for those who get the references. And those who don't - it doesn't matter anyway!
The cliffhanger from Chapter 2 is resolved in a humorous way, seeing 'Doctor' Newlyn getting whacked around the head by a girl who must surely go on to be his new companion (anyone remember how the Eleventh Doctor and the grown-up Amy Pond first met?).
Anna is a wonderful character (and she also happens to be an investigative journalist), and is a wonderful foil for Newlyn. Admittedly, the tiny bit of romantic tension when they first met made me cringe a little, but this isn't a show that can really allow for them to spend great periods of time falling in love, so we'll excuse it.
Once again, the plot is furthered, with a few strands from Chapter 1 being nicely tied up (for instance, who Richard was waiting for when he was attacked). The title of the series itself also starts to make sense here, and one assumes that the audience is intended to 'cotton on' before the characters within the show. That's all I'm saying though, spoilers!
The final clip has a nice cliffhanger (that you can't truly appreciate unless you paid attention to Chapter 1 and know who, or rather, what, The Servant is - so make sure you watch it!), and a little joke bound to put a knowing smile on the face of every Whovian. It once again reminds us that this show is fun. And a little bit scary!
A special mention must go to Rachel Shenton, famous for her role in teen soap Hollyoaks, who gives an enthusiastic performance here, and she and Anthony Miles have a great rapport on-screen.
Two more fantastic installments that musn't be missed! And, I suppose, a rather nice way of passing the time waiting for 'Doctor Who' to come back, as well! ;)
Watch these Chapters here:
More About 'Blood and Bone China'
Official Website: http://www.bloodandbonechina.com/index.html