In what has so far been a very experimental series of Inside No. 9 (Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton have said themselves that they think it’s their most varied series to date), this fourth episode, Misdirection, is the first one that perhaps wouldn’t feel out of place in an earlier series of the show. Although it fits more into classic No. 9 territory, it certainly isn’t retreading old ground, and you’d be hard pushed to predict every twist and turn it delivers.
Misdirection takes us into the world of professional magic, opening with Willy Wando (Pemberton) showing Neville Griffin (Shearsmith) a brand new trick. The old timer plans to wheel out his “chair raising experience” at children’s parties and believes it could even be his route into performing on cruise ships, but ambitious Neville thinks it’s a lot more groundbreaking than that.
Following this introduction, we catch up with the now successful Neville nine years later as he’s about to be interviewed by student reporter and amateur magician Gabriel (Fionn Whitehead). Whilst Gabriel probes into Neville’s approach to magic and tries out a few tricks of his own, it becomes clear that both men have something to hide and there’s more at stake in their encounter than meets the eye…
In last week’s episode, Love’s Great Adventure, Shearsmith played more of a side character, but this time he’s front and centre – which won’t be a surprise to any fans who are aware of his real-life interest in magic. In fact, it’s a wonder there hasn’t been an episode involving magic before!
Reece is on great form as pompous Neville, and manages to fit in plenty of amusing references to other magicians. When Neville’s wife Jennie (Jill Halfpenny) encourages him to update his image, he bluntly informs her that he’d only wear a hoodie like Dynamo if he was going to start “selling drugs in Aldi car park” and that he doesn’t need to build a social media following since “Houdini didn’t have Twitter”.
There’s a development just over halfway into Misdirection that regular Inside No. 9 viewers will likely see coming, but it doesn’t matter because this is far from the story’s primary twist. After this point, things take a particularly complex turn (even by Inside No. 9’s standards), to an extent that you’ll probably want to immediately go back once it has finished, so that you can watch it all unfold again and pick up on details you might have missed the first time. Following this elaborate treat, we can’t wait to see what Shearsmith and Pemberton have in store for us in next week’s Thinking Out Loud, which is set to feature a selection of characters delivering monologues straight to camera.
Contributed by Sophie Davies.
Inside No.9 Continues Monday at 10.00pm on BBC TWO