Parade’s End Series-Blog: Episode 2 Review

PARADE’S END: Friday 31st August, BBC2, 9pm

There’s a three year gap between the end of the first episode of Parade’s End and the end of the second. So you could have been forgiven for thinking that much must have happened during that time, something exciting — something with guns or drugs maybe?

Well, not quite, although something is on the horizon: war.

But that hasn’t happened yet, so episode two trickles along at a similar pace to the first, not that such a speed is necessarily a bad thing (think the TV version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Chinese Restaurant episode of Seinfeld — sometimes good things take time).

Christopher and Sylvia’s tarnished relationship continues to play out like an inter-war period episode of the sitcom Married with Children, with Sylvia desperately throwing herself at her staunchly conservative husband.

“Oh, go away if you can’t bear to look!â€? she tells him while standing naked.

Naturally, as the “last great Toryâ€?, he averts her gaze. As Christopher explains, he stands for honouring the past, which sadly for Sylvia, means that at times he can seem stuck there. And this makes his relationship with Miss Wannop, the progressive young suffragette, all the more intriguing.

We get to see plenty more of Miss Wannop in episode two, which is fortunate, because she’s one of the few characters you can truly find yourself rooting for (she’s my personal favourite).

Much more likable and ethical than Sylvia, she wears her heart on her sleeve and perhaps this is why every secondary character seems to be able to immediately guess that she’s harbouring feelings for Christopher. Even an old sexist man gets it instantly.

“If you’re thinking of starting something,â€? he says. “I’m of good mind to smack your bare bottom!â€?

“I’m sure you think of little else,â€? Miss Wannop quips back at him, which goes somewhat towards explaining why she’s such an appealing character.

Episode two also gives viewers a greater look at the women’s suffrage, as female protestors get their voice heard on the steps of a museum. Although suffragettes were seen in the first episode (remember the hilariously slow-paced golf course scene?) it’s nice to see more of the moment — although I cringed when the painting was destroyed.

Like a campy 1970s sex comedy (ooh err!), I personally got a kick out of the return of the haunted ventriloquist dummy vicar (Rufus Sewell), who was this time railing against brassieres.

However, my overall highlight was Christopher and Miss Wannop’s fireside chat, where the tweed-wearing Tory opened up just a little bit about his worldview: he stands for duty and service to above and below, frugality, keeping your word and honouring the past.

Still, he wasn’t honouring the past when he walked away from her at the end, did he? How bloody rude!

Some viewers found the first episode a struggle to follow, which is understandable. Parade’s End tends to leap forward in time, often with little explanation of what’s happening. However, it’s not wildly winding and confusing and the plot isn’t particularly complex. The characters are the most engaging part of the series; they’re what reel you in, largely due to some superb performances.

Episode two steps things up in terms of developing these characters. Miss Wannop’s hapless crush is what’s most appealing and what I want to see more of. And with Christopher heading off to war, episode three should be an interesting instalment.