In my review of last week’s Our Girl I hoped that the expositional dialogue that populated the episode was only being used in order to introduce all the various characters and relationships. Thankfully that hope was reinforced as this week’s episode slows down on the exposition and instead focuses on developing the three central protagonists. Additionally the love triangle storyline that threatened to engulf the drama was instead merely a subplot as the story instead focused on Molly’s relationship with another character.
The relationship in question is that the Molly shares with her Afghan soul sister Bashira; who becomes an integral part of this week’s plot. Despite multiple warnings from the returning Smurf and the ridiculously handsome Captain James, Molly continues to show concern for the little girl who’s always following her around. Molly continues to be concerned when she learns that Bashira has been promised in marriage to another man before later seeing her in the village sporting a black eye. Defying orders to keep her distance, Molly tries her best to treat Bashira and in the process learns that there could be trouble for her platoon if they continue into the mountains. Molly then faces a dilemma as she wonders whether she can use the information she’s garnered from Bashira and if she does what will happen to the innocent youngster. I felt that writer Tony Grounds had done an excellent job of making the audience wonder whether Molly can indeed trust Bashira as her constant presence suggests that she’s been asked to follow the troops. The small hints we have about Bashira’s father increase the sense of distrust and I was on the edge of my seat as the platoon headed out on their latest mission. This was one of two excellent set pieces in tonight’s episode with the second being a particular highlight as Molly once again put herself in danger to help a friend. The fact that these well-paced sequences are becoming more frequent is a positive sign for Our Girl as they make the series feel different from other Sunday night dramas.
Obviously, despite my reservations, the romantic subplots continue unabated with Molly refusing to pin down which of her suitors she truly desired. There were plenty of knowing looks between Molly and Captain James especially when she saw him lifting the weights without his shirt on. Additionally he picked her to duet with him on the night that their group were providing entertainment for the rest of the camp. However it was Smurf who appeared to be fighting harder to gain Molly’s approval but that might have something to do with her saving his life. As a result Smurf begins to follow Molly around claiming he’s there for her and constantly offering hugs. Luckily, Molly has been built up as a strong female protagonist and therefore rejects these advances; laughing off Smurf’s words and instead throwing insults at him. Judging by next week’s promo trailer, Molly’s love triangle continues to intensify but I’d like if Grounds completely surprised us by having the medic run off with Mansfield Mike instead of settling for Smurf or James.
One thing I found with this week’s episode was the fact that Grounds has a great ear for the incidental dialogue that occurs throughout the instalment. Some of the scenes I found the most enjoyable were the ones in which the characters were simply bantering with one another. I personally felt that Grounds made this dialogue feel believable as it made it seem as if the characters were now comfortable in one another’s company. Grounds’ storytelling was equally on form this week as he crafted a compelling tale involving friendship in a time of turmoil and the dangers that come from getting too attached. The aforementioned set pieces were expertly crafted and the pace of the episode was much-improved from last week. Director Anthony Philipson employed some impressive visual touches throughout Our Girl and made the final bomb disposal sequence feel particularly gripping. I also felt it was great that Our Girl now had a proper opening title sequence as it gave the drama an identity of its own. Furthermore I felt that the opening titles set the tone for the rest of the episode and gave the audience the impression that Our Girl was offering something new in the way of Sunday night drama.
With Molly now having firmly found her feet in Afghanistan, Lacey Turner has relaxed into the role a lot more. Turner appears relieved that she no longer has to deliver a look of shear bewilderment every five seconds and instead gets to banter with the boys. Turner’s likeable style lends itself well to the down-to-Earth Molly especially when her caring side comes out during her scenes with Bashira. Whilst Turner is eager to convey how Molly has changed since her time in Afghanistan she still retains certain elements of the character which were present in last year’s pilot. Molly still swears like a trooper and doesn’t have the best grasp of the English language and at times can wind people up the wrong way; all traits that Turner brings out during the course of this episode But thanks to Turner’s fantastic performance, Molly feels like a fully-rounded character who can now easily handle herself in this male-dominated environment. The same cannot be said about her male co-stars as I felt that both Iwan Rheon and Ben Aldridge struggled during the episode’s quieter scenes. Neither appeared to be very comfortable when their characters talked about their feelings for Molly and I feel this may be a big problem in terms of the drama’s central love triangle. I personally felt the second best performance of this episode came from Becky Eggersglusz who, as Bashira, was able to convey her character’s fears in only a handful of scenes.
My one fear about last week’s opener of Our Girl was that it would be crushed in the ratings by Downton Abbey, with the ultimate results seeing the war drama gain just under four million viewers. I’m hoping these ratings are maintained as I felt that Our Girl really found its feet this week and I think it set the tone for what’s to come over the next three episodes. Our Girl is different to any other drama around at the moment as it focuses on a contemporary situation, contains action-packed sequences and has a likeable, realistic central character who you constantly root for.
What did you think to tonight’s episode of Our Girl? Did you feel that the series is improving?
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