In my prior reviews of Doctor Foster’s second series I’ve discussed how Kate (Jodie Comer) has arguably become the most sympathetic character in the drama due to Simon’s (Bertie Carvel) actions. I’ve also bemoaned the fact that the character has had very little to do which is a shame seeing as Comer is one of our finest actresses. Luckily that changed in tonight’s penultimate instalment as writer Mike Bartlett made the bold decision to make Kate the centre of the episode with Simon and Gemma (Suranne Jones) almost playing second fiddle to her.
I personally enjoyed the narrative structure of the episode which replayed the same Wednesday twice as we saw the day through Kate’s eyes and later through the eyes of the other characters in her life.
The first version of the day saw us get to know this version of Kate a little better; spending time with her family and at her university business class. However, paranoia had already started to build for Kate as Gemma had left her envelope containing Simon’s tie that he left her house following their now infamous encounter in last week’s episode. Kate’s paranoia grew further still thanks to interactions with the returning Carly (Clare Hope-Ashitey) and Gemma’s erstwhile colleague Sian (Sian Brooke). An awkward meeting with Simon ends with her going through his phone and confronting him over the photo he took of a drunken Gemma two weeks’ ago. Unsure of whether Gemma is out of her life for good, Kate is guided around her now former home by an estate agent and whilst there discovers where she and Tom (Tom Taylor) are now staying. Unfortunately for Kate she encountered Anna (Victoria Hamilton) who informed her of what happened last week in the kitchen between Gemma and Simon.
As we learn later in the episode, Gemma has contacted Kate’s parents (Neil Stuke and Sara Stewart) and informed them of the liaison she had with Simon. Although Kate lies and tells them that Simon confessed and they’re over it, the pain of the revelation is evident immediately. I personally felt that Jodie Comer shone throughout this episode especially in the scene where Kate returned home to tell Simon not to lie to her again. I felt that Comer brought out a power in Kate that we hadn’t seen before and I thought Bertie Carvel played brilliantly opposite her as he almost cowered way after she’d finished berating him. Although Kate agrees to forgive Simon for the sake of their young daughter, she still can’t forget what he’s done and is soon back at Gemma’s hotel wanting more answers. The answers she’s given basically confirm that Simon has tried to style Kate exactly the same way as Gemma down to picking his ex-wife’s favourite song as the first song he danced to with his new wife.
The scenes where Simon essentially lost everything were also brilliantly played and the direction by Jeremy Lovering again deserves praise for depicting the show’s antagonist’s world falling in around him. Throughout the episode it’s revealed that everything Simon has is because of Kate’s parents who bought the house for the newlyweds in their daughter’s name whilst his new business venture was being bankrolled by his wife’s godfather. With the revelations of his adultery causing the breakdown of his marriage, Simon found his lies catching up with him as Kate’s father Chris lay the boot him by berating his soon-to-be former son-in-law. I loved Neil Stuke’s performance here as Chris squared up to Simon and it made me feel that an actor of his calibre deserved to have more to do in the drama. After Kate revealed that she and her family were moving to France, Gemma arrived to witness Simon’s lowest hour however she may not be the victor of their war just yet.
One of my only negatives of this episode was that we didn’t get to see more of Tom after he’d been the focus of last week’s instalment. From what I could gather, Gemma had been working to get Simon out of Parminster as Tom wanted to move back but not whilst his father was there. It was clear that Tom was still conflicted about his feelings and was suffering in the aftermath of his rather public outburst last week. In one of the series’ most tender moments Gemma helped Tom wash his hair in an effort to comfort her clearly troubled teenage son. Once again, I felt that Tom Taylor was brilliant in the handful of scenes he had here whilst he and Suranne Jones perfectly played the awkward mother and son dynamic that Tom and Gemma possess. However, it appears that Tom may still not have forgiven whatever father told him about his mother as a smug broken Simon reveals to his ex-wife that their son will never trust her again.
It appears then that the final episode of Doctor Foster will centre around Tom’s relationship with his parents as they both vie for his love. Several theories have been suggested throughout the weeks with some feeling Tom will kill himself whilst others have seen Gemma and Simon getting back together as they’re both as bad as each other. If I were to second guess Mike Bartlett, which I’ve learned in the past is hard to do, then I feel that Tom will accidentally kill his father somehow during next week’s finale. This would see him leave Parminster in a box, as he suggested way back in episode one, whilst at the same time leaving Gemma without anyone in her life to care about. However, I’m certainly more excited to see where the series heads after watching an episode which I found to be an enjoyable watch thanks mostly to the brilliant performance given by the always-excellent Jodie Comer.
Doctor Foster Continues Tuesday at 9.00pm on BBC One.