Inside No. 9 episodes are known for having at least one twist, but Once Removed has so many twists and turns it is hard to know where to start.
This is partly because the episode has a non-linear storyline, beginning with the end of the story, and then going back 10 minutes earlier every so often until we get to the start of the story. The episode is set in cottage number nine, where removals man Spike (Nick Moran) has come to help May (Monica Dolan) move house, but it not long before Spike finds some freshly murdered bodies, and his own life is even threatened before May intervenes. She thus begins to explain.
Thus the story is fully explained. An old man, Percy (David Calder), who is under the delusion he is Andrew Lloyd Webber, is poisoned by Viktor (Reece Shearsmith), who also kills other people staying and visiting the house, including dodgy estate agent Hugo (Steve Pemberton) and Natasha (Emilia Fox), who has a closer connection to the house than we first think. However, it is a phone conversation with May’s husband Charles (Rufus Jones) that reveals the true extent of the story, and the reason why the cottage has become the focus of the action.
It’s hard to review this episode, given that seemingly all the revelations have been revealed in the first five minutes. However, as they episode progresses, we learn that the murders are just one in a series of revelations. This is really a story told in six acts, with each part having a twist of its own as we the viewer piece the entire story together. The final part of the final act makes the episode all the more thrilling.
All the action means the comedy seems to be downplayed a bit, but we do get some laughs even admit the chaos and violence. Even though you know that someone is about to die, there is still a weird moment of hilarity when you see Pemberton trying to kill Shearsmith by smothering to death with bubble wrap.
Due to the storytelling, this episode thus feels to have more in common with Zanzibar, the first episode in the series. It feels more experimental and thus acts as a way for Shearsmith and Pemberton to show off their great writing talents.
Inside No. 9 is on BBC Two at 22.00.