Roadkill - Ep 4
Image: BBC/The Forge/Steffan Hill

‘Roadkill’: episode four

It’s the final episode of Roadkill, and I’m going to spoil it in advance – it doesn’t pick up. Hugh Laurie remains brilliant, but the episode just whimpers out due to hugely unsatisfying writing and a supporting cast of characters you just don’t care about in the slightest.

Dawn is reeling from the threat to her premiership – a vote of no confidence has been called in parliament, and the Prime Minister thinks that Peter is refusing to stand up for her because he is angling for the top job. Peter is keen to wrap up some of the loose ends in his past. He goes to the prison to meet Rose, and finds himself warming to the daughter he never knew he had. But is his affection genuine, or is it just a tactic to warm up public opinion? Meanwhile, Julia finds her allegiances tested, and Helen faces the possibility that she may be forced to move into Number 10.

The episode just whimpers out due to hugely unsatisfying writing and a supporting cast of characters you just don’t care about in the slightest

Throughout my Roadkill blog, I’ve sung the praises of Hugh Laurie, and it feels right to do it once again. He’s been the beating heart of this show – a charming politician who you want to like, but shifty enough that you never want to like him too much. Some of the scenes in this episode were really good, and they were the ones that gave Laurie the opportunity to one-on-one with another character. There’s something really sweet in the way he treats Rose, and there’s one final chance to butt heads with Dawn (Helen McCrory is also excellent but, as throughout this series, very underused).

The other actors are good, but they drown in a lousy script. Take Rochelle – after being all-out to destroy Peter last episode, she’s suddenly decided that it’s actually a danger to her career to try and impugn her own client, and so she just gives up on the story after newspaper editor Joe Lapidus (Pip Torrens) is warned off. Her entire plot thread felt like it was constructed to make a point, rather than tell a story, and it suffered as a result (although it did wrap up with a speech by Luke that was so out-of-place, I actually started laughing).

This has been the story of Roadkill throughout its run – baffling decisions and plot threads that don’t feel organic, coupled with characters you don’t like. We’re supposed to see Peter dropping Duncan as an act of betrayal, but Duncan has been working against Peter all series. We’re supposed to take heart when Lily feels her father has rejected her, but she’s spent all series sulking around effectively shouting ‘I hate you’ after he told her to take personal responsibility for her drug-taking. The intended negative impact on these characters’ lives due to Peter doesn’t land when you like Peter more.

A series with so much promise, and two really strong lead actors, ultimately peters out to nothing, and the journey there was barely satisfying

And then, that ending. Peter becomes the new PM after effortlessly defeating Dawn, and that’s it. He never gets his comeuppance, and so many of the dangling plot threads are left in the air. It feels like we should have two more episodes here, or maybe Roadkill is angling for a second series it’s not likely to get. I suppose it’s probably meant to be unsatisfying, making a point about how the corrupt (and Boris Johnson – it’s clearly meant to be Boris Johnson, no matter how much David Hare denies it) often get away with it. With better writing, that might have worked. With better writing, so many things about Roadkill might have worked.

So that’s the end of that – a series with so much promise, and two really strong lead actors, ultimately peters out to nothing, and the journey there was barely satisfying. I wanted to like Roadkill, I really did, but it just never connected. It wanted to make some points, but David Hare was so lazy in his messaging, he forgot to tell an interesting story too.

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