FACING THE MUSIC

The penultimate episode of RTE’s 1916 miniseries ‘Rebellion’ began with surrender.

Driven out of the ruins of the GPO, the leaders of the Easter Rising waved a white flag and marched through the streets of Dublin with Charlie Murphy’s Irish Citizens Army volunteer Elizabeth Butler and her comrade Brian Gleeson’s Jimmy Mahon among their ranks.

As they laid down their arms, Jimmy got a rifle rammed into his belly and Elizabeth was frogmarched into O’Hanlon’s fish shop by her British Army officer fiancé, Stephen Duffy Lyons (played by Paul Reid).

While the rebel leaders faced the music, so too did Stephen.

Elizabeth rebuffed his efforts to persuade her to go back to her life of privilege, telling him: “This is bigger than us, Stephen. I am not going home.”

And so she went to prison with Camille O’Sullivan’s Countess Constance Markievicz instead.

Faced with the embarrassment of an insurrection on his watch, Tom Turner’s senior British civil servant Charles Hammond was told a resignation letter was being prepared for him.

Angered by this revelation from his boss, Charles pointed out he had been raising the prospect of a rebellion to his superiors for weeks.

Charles faced an even greater challenge at home as his wife Vanessa, played by Perdita Weeks, confronted him with his pregnant mistress May, played by Sarah Greene.

In a stinging, yet entirely predictable move, Charles denied, at his wife’s behest, he was still in love with May.

And so May left the Hammond family home fighting back the disappointment.

Meanwhile Jimmy’s British soldier brother Arthur, played by Barry Ward, was informed of his young son Peter’s death near the GPO.

As he came to terms with the news, he went into Jimmy’s prison cell, beat him and then hugged him.

Arthur was refused, however, compassionate leave to attend his boy’s funeral.

In a heartbreaking scene, Gus McDonagh’s Monsignor Mulcahy informed Arthur’s wife, Lydia McGuinness’s Peggy Mahon of her son’s death – handing the boy’s sling back to her apologetically.

Meanwhile Ruth Bradley’s Irish Republican Brotherhood volunteer Frances O’Flaherty continued to wander the streets without attracting the attention of the authorities.

After a reconciliation with May, Frances told her: “The battle has been fought but the war is just beginning.”

The most controversial moment of the night was undoubtedly a scene where a British soldier humiliated Lalor Roddy’s Thomas Clarke, stripping him naked and inviting his comrades to look “at your President – king of the Fenians.”

The scene will no doubt be a talking point on RTE radio shows tomorrow.

Charles Hammond had a showdown with Brian McCardle’s wounded James Connolly in a makeshift hospital ward in Dublin Castle.

Connolly queried why his foot should be saved by Sophie Robinson’s nurse Ingrid Webster and predicted the British authorities would show their true colours in their treatment of the leaders of the Rising.

As we’ve come to expect from ‘Rebellion’, episode four was a bit of a curate’s egg.

There was some decent acting from Charlie Murphy, Brian Gleeson, Barry Ward and most notably, Lydia McGuinness.

A scene where she and her daughters gratefully received food from Michelle Fairley’s Dolly Butler in the kitchen of her posh home was nicely acted.

Director Aku Louhimies also delivered once again a handsome looking production that moved along at a decent pace.

However persistent weaknesses in Teevan’s script continued to undermine all this good work, with the writer tending to engage in frothy melodrama.

The showdown between Charles Hammond, his wife Vanessa and his pregnant mistress May was full of all the hysteria viewers have come to expect from this soap opera sub-plot.

Michael Ford Fitzgerald’s rakish Harry Butler (Elizabeth’s brother) has also become a bit of a pantomime villain.

A scene where he stole from his father Edward’s study and set up Jordanne Jones’ newly hired servant Minnie Mahon was laughable, relying far too heavily on coincidence.

There was much amusement on Twitter too as Steve Wall’s Detective Coleman dismissed Michael Collins as a nobody while Jimmy, Thomas Clarke and other rebels were singled out for trial under Martial Law and execution.

This was the poorest of the four episodes of ‘Rebellion’ so far and while this viewer is sticking to the bitter end, it is more out of a sense of duty than expectation.

Several of the characters of ‘Rebellion’ may have been facing the music but there were plenty of bum notes in this episode.

(Dan McGinn is the film critic for Belfast 89FM’s ‘Saturday Bites’ programme and regularly reviews the latest film and television releases on the blog They’ll Love It In Pomona (http://loveitinpomona.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/mother-and-son.html)).


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