In my review of the first part of The 7.39 I voiced my uncertainty regarding the romantic chemistry between the drama’s lead characters Sally and Carl. While I believed that their conversations on the train would lead to a friendship blossoming, I struggled to find any passion growing in their relationship. Therefore I wasn’t pleased when we saw them embark on an affair as they boarded the lift ready for some a liaison in their hotel room.
One thing I did like was the way in which writer David Nicholls didn’t instantly let them have the passionate romp that they envisioned at the end of the last episode. Instead he made their return to the room feel realistic by having Sally brushing her teeth to get rid of the taste of garlic and Carl struggle to get his shoes off as he attempted to undress. The result of these actions saw the pair momentarily decide to put their liaison on hold and go out and get some air. The tender conversation that followed made me believe in the couple for the first time as the connection between the two eventually led to them ending up in bed together. This one-night affair seemingly made both Carl and Sally feel happier with the former trying to make amends with both of his children. This was demonstrated by the fact that Carl bought his daughter a new violin and attempted to come to terms with his son’s wishes to attend drama school. Meanwhile, Sally attempted to get her relationship with Ryan back on track however she was thrown when he suggested that they moved to Australia following the wedding. Although Sally initially believed this to be a bad idea she thought the move would provide the change she sorely needed.
The only problem with Sally’s move abroad was the continuation of her relationship with Carl. Despite the pair agreeing to one night together, their attraction is seemingly too strong and they start to spend nights together at various seedy hotels. The one thing they do agree on is that they should never mention their home lives as Sally wants her affair to exist outside of her normal life. As Carl learns of Sally’s plans to move to Australia, he’s a little upset that the affair has to end. To comfort him somewhat, Sally decides that they should spend the day as a couple of tourists who are in a proper relationship. This relationship seemingly involves a lot of running around and taking selfies of each other on the London Eye. But this day off work costs Carl dearly as his one-dimensional boss Grant sacks him the next day for seemingly taking his eye off the ball. Instead of going straight home and telling Maggie what’s happened, Carl’s first port of call is Sally. She advises to tell Maggie, who is shockingly pleased with the news as she felt that the job would ultimately end up killing Carl. Obviously there are a few twists and turns along the way, most of which are fairly predictable, before we reach the conclusion of the drama.
I don’t think it’s giving too much away to reveal that the final scenes of The 7.39 happen sometime in the future. I have to say that I enjoyed these scenes and felt that both Sally and Carl got the lives that they ultimately deserved. My one issue with the ending was that I would’ve like to have seen a little more from Carl’s life in the future, primarily as I’d invested so much time in getting to know the character. The most positive element about The 7.39 are its central characters, both of whom are completely realistic.
While I was rooting for the characters individually, I wasn’t willing for them to become a fully-fledged couple. It’s not that I didn’t believe in the progression of the relationship here and the tenderness of their initial encounter was completely realistic. I just thought the attraction between the pair wasn’t strong enough to maintain a lasting relationship and I wasn’t pleased that they continued the affair. I feel part of this is to do with the fact that Carl and Maggie are a much more believable couple than Carl and Sally. Despite their long marriage, they do feel like a couple who should be together forever and therefore Carl’s affair doesn’t make as much sense as it would do if he was trapped in a loveless relationship. Another issue I had with this concluding chapter was that David Nicholls struggled to bring events to an end and, before the final scenes in the future, I found myself getting quite bored. I feel that this is partly to do with the fact that The 7.39 had been well-paced for the majority of its run but began to slow down following the final act’s revelations.
I believe part of the reason I love the characters as much as I do is because of the performance from the lead actors. David Morrissey continues to shine as Carl and perfectly conveys how his relationship with Sally has positively affected his home life. Conversely, I felt he employed plenty of emotion in the latter half of the episode including the scenes where he lost his job. Sheridan Smith was equally brilliant here and was great during some of Sally’s darker moments. After complaining that she had little to do yesterday, Olivia Colman came into her own here, especially in the latter part of the episode. I think part of the reason I feel so strongly about Maggie and Carl’s marriage is the way that Colman conveys her love towards her husband. Colman and Morrissey have a strong connection and Colman’s talents make you feel for Maggie when Carl starts playing away from home. Somebody criticised me last night for not rating Sean Maguire’s acting talents, but I have to say I haven’t warmed to him throughout these two episodes. Maybe it’s because he’s on screen with three of Britain’s strongest acting talents, but I personally just didn’t believe him when he was attempting to convey Ryan’s anger.
Overall, I’ve found The 7.39 to be a pleasant if not wholly satisfying romantic drama. David Nicholls has proved his worth by creating two strong and realistic characters in Sally and Carl. The performances from Smith, Morrissey and Colman have been outstanding as has John Alexander’s direction. Unfortunately the central romance didn’t really grab me as much as it should have done and ultimately I found this to be a drama about a love affair that I personally didn’t want to see succeed.
What did you think to the conclusion of The 7.39? Have you enjoyed both parts?