Welcome to part 2! Episodes 3 and 4, one of which is the best episode of the series (I think). (part 1 here and part 3 here)
Amit continues to struggle with grief, especially after spending time with his subordinate’s little girl. Meanwhile, Madhavan picks out his next victim, a nice young man. He kills him by stealing his bike helmet, and then arranging an accident on a rainy night, and leaving the helmet behind as if he always had it. Coincidentally, the young man was the son of a donor to the police fund, an acquaintance of Amit’s boss. His girlfriend goes to Amit and asks for his help, saying that something must have been wrong, because he would never have ridden his bike without his helmet and the gate guard said that he couldn’t find the helmet, but then it was there after the accident.
There are some interesting parallels that start showing up in this episode. For instance, Madhavan is approached by the young woman who lives in his housing block because she is frustrated with her angry abusive boyfriend. She attempts to come on to him, saying he is a better man, and Madhavan puts her off.
On the other hand, at the end of the episode, the girlfriend of the dead man comes to Amit to beg him to look into the illogical parts of the case. She is frustrated because Amit seems so uninterested and disreputable, but she keeps trying. And, eventually, she does get through to him and he is interested.
(Doesn’t seem nearly as trustworthy and charming as Maddy, but actually is)
So, once again, Madhavan appears to be the smiling good guy while Amit is the “bad” guy. But if you look at the results, the reverse is true. Amit does eventually listen and help appropriately. Madhavan appears to be someone to rely on, but is not.
Another opposite between them, Amit begins to let his wife go in this episode in a way that Madhavan is unable to do with his son. They are in opposite positions, Madhavan has a dead wife and a son he is afraid to lose. Amit has a dead daughter and a wife he is afraid to lose. But Amit stops struggling at the end of this episode. After approaching his wife when she attends the same event as him with her boyfriend Anuj, he ends the episode by meeting her in court for the divorce. And it is in that moment, when he lets her go, that his mind starts working on the problem that the victim’s girlfriend gave him, noticing the helmet on the shelf and beginning to think it through again. His strength is in overcoming his emotions, whereas Madhavan’s weakness is in letting his emotions rule him.
That weakness begins to be shown in this episode. The first episode, Madhavan was still feeling guilty. Now, he is letting his obsession over keeping his son change him. This time, it is calculated and brutal. The first murder, Madhavan was shaking and scared and improvising, he planned to have the man run himself to death on a treadmill, but when that didn’t work, he had to throw dust in his face. And of course the murder itself failed, he was merely in a coma, not dead. But this time it is different. He plans out carefully, steals the helmet, waits in the rain, steers his car at him, watches him slowly die of his head injury to make sure, and then leaves the helmet behind so it will appear to be an accident. Madhavan is evolving as a killer, leaving his humanity behind him on this quest.
(Scary Maddy! From a few episodes on, but the point stands)
Amit is revealing his humanity in this episode. We see him outside of the office and outside of his marriage. He visits the victim’s father with his boss, and later attends an event, and then a funeral. And his drinking snaps into focus as well, it is not just a cool character trait, it is something he is beginning to struggle to stop. We see him staring at alcohol in the room while talking, beer sitting on the table across from him. He is on the way to acknowledging he has a problem, and the audience is beginning to see him as someone with defined problems that can be solved as well. He’s not the “anti-hero” any more, he is on the way to being a hero. It’s a long way to go, but in the 3rd episode, now that we fully understand what he is now, the show can begin to reveal to us what he could become.
Madhavan’s next target is young actress. He pretends to be from her casting office helping her rehearse a scene, but instead is staging her suicide. Amit is assigned the case by his new boss, who is less tolerant of his hunches. Amit realizes it is not a suicide by noticing that the actress’ eyes are tracking to read the script as she talks. And then his subordinates casual remark about both this girl and the motorcycle victim being organ donors makes him understand what is happening. We also finally get a full flashback to see all the circumstances of Amit’s daughter’s death, she found his gun and shot herself accidentally while her parents were laughing in the other room. At the end of the episode, Madhavan zeros in on his next target, Amit’s ex-wife, just as Amit has finally pulled together the list of doners and also realizes his wife is next.
This is, by far, the best episode of the series. At least, so far, I’ve only seen the first 7. It’s possible the final episode will top it. But there is just SO MUCH that is good here. For instance, this is where Amit’s plot finally starts moving. We have had 3 episodes of him starting low and sinking lower. Finally there was a glimmer of growth in the last episode, an awareness of his drinking, letting his wife go, and beginning to spot something off about the murders. And this episode builds and builds on that. Amit is suddenly working with a team instead of ignoring them, and using the team is able to spot the problem with the suicide video, and even figure out the organ donation purpose to the murders. And that’s on top of the audience finally seeing the full version of his daughter’s death and learning that the guilt and end of his marriage are all related, he and his wife were happy and flirting in the kitchen while she died, tying their happiness with each other into guilt at her death. Oh, and he starts drinking a little less, we see him with glasses of water instead of alcohol. It was torturous to watch him struggle through the first few episodes, but it was necessary, so we can appreciate his growth here.
And the ending is brilliant, bringing it all together, showing that these two men were always on a collusion course. Amit finding his wife’s name #4 on the list at the same time that Madhavan starts to plan for #4. And, of course, this is all happening in the 4th episode in the season.
But in between, what makes the episode really special is the long segment of Madhavan and the actress. This is the segment that opened the whole series, a young woman recording the suicide video, calmly wrapping her face in cellophane and tying her arms behind her, and then slowly running out of breath, jerking, kicking over her chair, and finally the camera switching to her perspective as we see a figure open the door and leave the room before her sight fades to black.
(Jayashree Venketaramanan plays the actress, this is her first listing on imdb, and she is AMAZING in the role. I really hope she goes on to do great things)
We saw that, but it was several episodes ago and easy to forget. Since then we have been watching Madhavan and Amit, Madhavan struggling with his son, the joy of his family as they slowly climb the list of donar recipients. And we have also come to appreciate his cleverness, fooling the police and fooling everybody and getting away with murder. Not that we are rooting for him exactly, but we have started to think of it as a complicated situation, we have been sucked into his struggles.
And on the other hand, we have watched Amit fall farther and farther, the forces of law and order and justice and so on seem weak. We are rooting for his wife to find happiness away from him, for his subordinate to stop listening to him. While Madhavan seems more and more competent, and our audience brains subconsciously turn to the “winner”, Amit seems weaker and weaker.
Until this sequence which forces us to confront what we have come to accept. Madhavan is at his best in organizing this murder. He learns about the casting process, about the way agents work, he sends emails, and finally shows up at her house in character as the nervous new assistant from her agent’s office, there to help her learn the part. He isn’t flirtatious or sexy, just harmless and nice and effortlessly gains her trust. He manages the complexity of borrowing her phone, deleting his contact, and also figuring out the time limit before it goes to sleep and everything else. He suggests she use a script so that she doesn’t have to remember her lines. Everything is working well, and we in the audience are enjoying watching his cleverness and the way the plan seems to be falling into place without any of the hesitation or difficulty of the previous plans.
And then he shows her how he wants her to wrap her face in cellophane, so they can see her “expressions” for the role, she seriously watches him do it so she can understand what he wants, and then cuts him free when he signals. And then she sits down to do it. And suddenly we, in the audience, begin to realize that this is actually going to happen. This bright eager sweet young woman is going to die slow and terrified. And not because she has done anything wrong, but because she has done everything right. She wants to do well at her job, she is sincere in working hard and reassuring this nervous young man from her agent’s office, she is smart and sensitive and dedicated and trusting and that is what is going to kill her. And finally, this is all because she registered as a donor. This bright happy sincere young woman also sincerely wanted to help people, and it is leaving to her death.
The audience has gone from rooting for Madhavan when he was just a nice man with a sick son, to disapproving of what he does but understanding why he does it when he was forcing himself to kill, to now seeing him smoothly and easily and guilt free murdering this poor innocent girl and suddenly hating him. Wanting Amit to stop him.
(Yes, it’s true, this show does the unthinkable and makes me dislike Maddy. But, to be clear, just his character. I still love him in real life)
And it is in this same episode that Amit, finally, seems like he is beginning to become someone who can stop him. This poor girl’s death has gotten to him as well, along with the plea and responsibility given him by the dead man’s fiancee in the previous episode. Madhavan has turned from a hero to a demon, and our worthless drunken “demon” Amit has finally become the hero he needs to be. Just in time for the halfway point of the series.
I’m reading this and thinking, “Wow. This could be a soap opera!” Then I remember — it IS a soap opera.
(I’m also noticing how funny the phrase “soap opera” looks when you spell it out.)
Also, also — I promise always to wear my bike helmet. I never thought I’d see it as a plot device.
It works on so many layers! Because there’s also the well-known thing (at least, I’ve seen it referenced) of motorcycles being tops for bringing in organ donors. Because they cause head injuries but don’t damage the rest of the body too badly, and young stupid people with great healthy organs tend to ride them.
4th episode was very good, but too nerve-wracking for me. I paused and left the room several times during “rehearsal” scenes. It was hard to see Maddy sitting there (and looking so hot in those new glasses and unbuttoned shirt) patiently waiting to kill her.
I have so much to say about those 2 episodes but will write the rest tomorow
Looking forward to it! Appreciate this, since you are apparently the only one reading these recaps and they take me about 4 hours to write 🙂
On Wed, Feb 21, 2018 at 3:44 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:
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I have few problems with episode 3.
First I got confused with the helmet thing. I like the idea of stealing the helmet, but why Maddy locked the helmet on the bike after the accident? Why waste the time? Now I know it was only to help Amit understand it wasn’t an accident but I was really waiting to discover that it was Maddy’s plan.
And the other thing:
-What is worse than being a devil?
I was like WTF? What do you mean?
For the helmet, you are right, it was just so Amit could find an obvious flaw. But I could also see the logic behind it. Maddy stole the helmet, if the helmet had been actually missing, it would look like there was something strange happening. Maddy didn’t know the victim had mentioned the missing helmet to the guard, he thought the victim had just seen the helmet missing and ridden without it. So by putting the helmet back, it would make it look like a clear accident, the victim was merely careless.
It’s also a sign of Maddy’s hubris. He thinks he knows people better than anyone else, he doesn’t think that the fiancee will know the victim enough to know there must have been something wrong, that a cop will be smart enough to talk to the guard and track down that the helmet really was missing. I suppose the alternative would have been to keep the helmet and make it look like a petty thief took it, but that could have sparked an investigation as well. I guess the real smartest thing would have been to replace the helmet but in the victim’s office or apartment, so it looked like he just forgot where he put it, instead of leaving it next to his bike after the accident.
I think the “being honest” line as a nod towards a very cynical view of the world, which the ending ultimately rejected. The argument would be that all of humanity is as bad or worse than the devil, but we just aren’t honest with ourselves. But the ending says no, humanity is essentially good.
On Fri, Feb 23, 2018 at 6:54 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote: