The Frankenstein Chronicles S01E05 “The Fortune Of War” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on ITV Encore, Wednesdays
Writers: Benjamin Ross, Mike Walden
Director: Benjamin Ross
Essential Plot Points:
Episode The Fifth: In which our inspector has a creeping suspicion
- The anatomy act is passed.
- We discover Garnett Chester was responsible for Flora’s pregnancy.
- We discover Garnett Chester may be responsible for the composite corpse.
- We discover Garnett Chester’s dead body,
Frankenstein. The name alone is enough to make most people think of monsters, even if it actually belongs to the creator of such horrors. And so we reach the penultimate episode of The Frankenstein Chronicles, and still we have no monsters to show for it. While the body count creeps up slightly this episode, it’s more political intrigue than monstrous goings on.
We begin with Mary Shelley (Anna Maxwell Martin) confessing to Inspector Marlott that Sir William Chester is more than capable of murder in pursuit of his great obsession: galvanism. Indeed, she has seen him killing in the name of science before. She then leaves town, which is frankly a blessing as Martin’s delivery has about as much life as the fictional monster her character created.
Marlott sets out to investigate Sir William (Samuel West), but discovers that maybe it’s his cousin, Garnett (Mark Bazely) who is a more likely fit.
The excellent Robbie Gee makes another appearance as Marlott persuades Billy to confess he supplied the bodies of children to Garnett. Marlott takes the evidence to his boss, Home Secretary Peel, who promises to deal with it personally. Next thing we know Garnett’s body ends up in William Chester’s office at the hospital, wrists slashed with a scalpel, seemingly by his own hand.
Meanwhile Boz’s expose in The Chronicle has put the Anatomy Act in jeopardy, Sir Bentley Warburton (foppishly played by Elliot Cowan) demands an emergency sitting of parliament.
Peel digs the dirt on Sir Bentley with a dawn raid on a sweet shop; the same sweet shop where Warburton gave Nightingale the slip in a previous episode. It seems the proprietor’s perfumed pompadour isn’t the only thing peculiar about the premises; it’s home to some seemingly salacious goings on. The raid brings some much-needed levity to the episode, with shrieks of “Please don’t tell my wife,” and men in frocks running this way and that. Threatened with scandal Warburton withdraws his opposition and the act is passed.
Marlott is now in line to become supervisor of the newly-created Metropolitan Police Force, and everything is nicely wrapped up.
Except… Chester has form for making things look like suicide, and he has plenty to gain from the Anatomy Act. Namely a plentiful supply of dead bodies to experiment on in his pursuit of galvanism. Marlott now believes Chester has succeeded in bringing the dead back to life, and that the original abomination actually crawled its way to the river…
Sean Bean continues to play the dogged inspector true to form. A veritable ray of sunshine to oppose his dour melancholy comes in the form of Flora, excellently played by Eloise Smyth.
Not much has been made of Marlott’s condition. We get about one interrupted dream or hallucination per episode. It would have been nice to see him descend into madness, mirroring his discovery of the wretched and corrupt world around him. Instead he looks a bit tired and has an expanding sore on his hand, hidden by a dirty bandage.
While there’s a lot going on this episode, you can’t help but feel that the whole series has perhaps missed an opportunity. Aside from the literary characters this could be any political drama set in 19th century London. That’s not to say any of it is necessarily bad, but it could have been made better by maybe diving deeper into some of the Blake/Frankenstein mythos instead of briefly hinting at it and leading with the politics. With only one episode left, it’s a bit late to turn things completely around, but here’s hoping for at least a monster, even if it is only Sean Bean with no nose.
- Marlott gets a kiss.
- Plenty of political intrigue.
- Moves the plot along at a brisk pace.
- Anna Maxwell Martin’s insipid performance as Mary Shelley is really starting to grate.
- Perhaps there’ll be a monster in the last episode…
- Marlott writes out Billy’s confession and dates it 1st April 1827. This messes with the timeline, as Blake did not die until August.
- While snooping around Garnett Chester’s house Marlott discovers what can only be described as a sex clock, which just happens to chime while he’s there.
Review by Arthur Scott