ITV’s Titanic Episode Two Review – Jenna-Louise Coleman comes to the fore and my idea for a new Titanic drinking game!
After writing my review of the first episode of Julian Fellowes’ Titanic I thought I was being a little harsh on the show however after reading some of your comments maybe I wasn’t nearly harsh enough.
I have to say, for me at least, episode two is an improvement as the focus is on some of the more sympathetic characters and we are also able to fill in some of the blanks from last week’s instalment. We start with the finishing touches being made to the Titanic by Stephen Campbell Moore’s Thomas Andrews, one of the ship’s builders, along with his uncle the investor Lord Pirrie played by Timothy West.
Once again the focus is on the lack of a full complement of lifeboats with Andrews being over-ruled by Pirrie and White Star Liner’s representative Bruce Ismay. Andrews puts Jim Maloney in charge of getting the electrics up to scratch before the ship’s maiden voyage in exchange for free third class tickets for him and his family this hopefully will answer the question of the person who asked why everyone with an Ulster accent had ended up in steerage. Obviously this free ride means that Maloney will have enough money to start a new life for him and his family in America however as we know this isn’t to be the case. There are also hints that the Mrs Maloney is being tempted away from her husband by the Eastern European crewman Peter Lubov but I guess this is a story that will also be fleshed out in the final two episodes.
Episode two also devotes time to some of the other characters who only briefly appeared last week namely Jenna-Louise Coleman’s Annie who has a few scenes of her own and there are also hints at a romance with smooth Italian waiter Sandrini. There also sections from last week’s episode seen from other perspectives so for example when Sandrini winks at Lady Georgiana we see him being chastised by his boss for the incident. Best of all though we get to see a lot more of Toby Jones and Maria Doyle Kennedy as lawyer John Batley and his wife Muriel. It is revealed that she has been reading his papers and that is how she has discovered that Lord Manton had been having it away with another woman and had fathered an illegitimate child. The scene in which John talks to Captain Smith about his role in life is very well-written and the heart-to-heart between Miriam and her husband just before the water starts to seep onto the top deck almost bought a tear to my eye. Even seeing the iceberg for a second time didn’t bother me that much, as I felt it was much more impressive when viewed through the eyes of Batley, mainly because Jones is such a fine actor he is able to convey the shock that the passengers must have had when they saw it for the first time.
Though episode two of Titanic isn’t nearly as bad as the first episode there are still many problems with the scripting and some of the characterisation. The non-linear plot structure certainly isn’t as jolting as it was last week but I still have an issue with it generally as there’s no real need to see the story told in this way. Julian Fellowes’ potted history of 1912 continues with a brief summation of how hard it was for Catholics in Belfast during the time as well as a mention of the Home Rule Bill. Just like the sufrfagette movement last week this subject is briefly tossed aside however regular viewers of Downton Abbey will not be surprised by this as Fellowes has a habit of only briefly mentioning historical events before skipping onto his next scene.
The conversations between characters where they mention how unlikely it is that the Titanic sink and why they can get away with cutting corners are getting a bit ridiculous. I feel that I already understood this point last week so there was no need to hammer it home. Indeed if you are so inclined then you could play a little drinking game every time somebody mentions how stable the Titanic is and how it doesn’t matter if they cut corners have a sip of your chosen beverage. My favourite example of this is when Captain Smith tells his crew that man may sink us, even if nature can’t and in that sentence essentially seals the fate of all on board. If you want to add another rule to said drinking game, then you can also have a drink if one of the characters mentions making a new start in America, because trust me there’s a lot of that in this episode also.
Overall episode two is a lot calmer than last week after bombarding us with a multitude of characters last week we can settle down with only a few getting scenes together tonight. It is also great that Toby Jones, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Stephen Campbell Moore are the actors who are entrusted with the bulk of the dialogue as they are three of the best members of the cast with Jones in particular being able to give a great performance here. While there are still plenty of plot holes and obvious dialogue to find fault with it seems that in episode two this series has gone someway to redeeming itself after last week’s terrible debut and if it goes on like this it might not be as awful as all of us first predicted a week ago.