Welcome back to the third and final installment of The Replacement; I've been thinking lately about how the Brits have it right: a short, intense fully contained series that doesn't leave us hanging. Let's roll the finale of The Replacement after the break, shall we?
We're still at Paula's (Vicky McClure) house in the middle of a fight between her and our Ellen (Morven Christie); we ended last time with Paula saying Ellen had won and now we find out her prize!
Caris is dead; she died two years ago after being hit by a car. The girl that Paula passed off as her is her niece and yeah, she told Kay (Neve McIntosh) who JUST died horribly, Kay respected her privacy. Ellen and I are confused.
She takes her leave after Paula reluctantly lets her pass (the menace that radiates from that woman!) and arrives home to find Paula's husband Kieran (Navin Chowdhry) talking with her husband Ian (Richard Rankin). She carefully suggests that Paula may need some help, but Ian calls her delusion a "coping mechanism" so he's no help. Kieran asks if Ellen really thinks Paula could have had anything to do with Kay's death (TOTALLY); he won't confirm that Paula was home that night because he's the worst liar ever.
I had a thought between last episode and this: what if Kay thought it was Ellen her husband David (Dougray Scott) was having an affair with? Paula certainly seemed to think it was more than a boss-friend relationship.
Ian questions Ellen about her intentions; is she doing this for Kay, or is it for David? He goes to bed and she sends an email to the police. Later, she foreshadows like a motherhumper.
Then she has a dream that Paula slits her wrists at work while she watches. Jaysus.
It's not a whole lot better in reality at work; Paula watches carefully while Ellen moves into her office; brightly, terribly alert as she watches Ellen in relation to David. She picks up the pictures of Caris she has in her office one by one as Ellen watches; she tucks them away and Lucy (Kim Allan) consoles her.
So. If Caris died two years ago, then that wasn't the reason Paula wasn't working or was that it entirely? I can't even imagine.
Lucy gets David, then they all turn and stare at Ellen.
David does not understand; he would be SUPER happy if he could pretend Kay was still alive! And I was right above; Kay thought David was having an affair with Ellen, her best friend, not Paula. I have to call one ounce of bullshit on that obvious plot device; Ellen has been pregnant as long as we've known her and she's barely looked at anyone except Paula.
Ellen can' believe Kay thought that; there's never been anything, nor would there ever be anything, how could she think that? *odd pause from David* Well, what did he tell Kay?
Ellen is aghast, he can't really think that, can he? He can't believe she's still pushing, it's bad enough he has to look at her!
Instead of his dead wife.
A silent Ellen collects her bag and leaves as David and the rest of the staff stare after her.
She meets Paula for a drink; she's quit. "At least some good's come out of it" is the response she gets and while I'd like to laugh, there are legit some scary people out there that think that all women's primary biological imperative is to raise children. Ellen tries to reason then gives up and beats a retreat as Paula follow her, hissing invective about Ellen staying home for two years with her daughter, which Paula would LOVE to be able to do.
Ian finds Ellen looking for work online; he's shocked. Paula is shocked because she finds a reference request in her email; she can't believe Ellen is looking for work already. She JUST told her to stay home for two years!
Paula does everything she can to destroy Ellen's chances for work; undermining references, bringing up the police investigation. Georgia (Sharon Young) is at one interview; Ellen makes sure to mention that any reference that came from Paula is sure to be tainted.
Did Georgia have a baby that Paula insist she stay home and parent? Is that what that's about?
Ellen tries to talk to Georgia after, but once again is completely stonewalled. Georgia warns Paula after; she hopes she never sees Ellen again. Paula looks translucent with rage.
For her next move; Paula strikes directly at Ellen's family, pushing her way into Ian's office and dropping several bombs.
She says Ellen was fired, and lied about resigning, flat out says the reason neither Ian and Ellen have bonded with Lia is that the baby was David's and suggests that Ian is taking the resentment about his wife's affair out on Lia.
He broods after, the funny part in the very beginning doesn't seem so funny to him now.
The problem is that Paula seems so normal; you don't expect regular people to be pathological liars capable of such elaborate deception. But Ian's a psychiatrist, for crying out loud, come ON!
Ian snaps at the social service workers who have come to see Ellen for a follow-up; he can't really be buying this, can he?
An invitation to the opening of the new library arrives; "it's from him" snides Ian. "You should go" which of course means: IF YOU GO, I WILL LEAVE. "It's your baby!"
Ellen has perhaps the worst timing ever for her careless "it's HIS baby" which wafts over her shoulder to across Ian's face like a storm full of poison.
David calls and pleads with Ellen to come to the library; WHY. WHY is he pushing so much? He offers to not have Paula there; does Ellen think this is harder for her to be there or David? Why does he care so? Was he in love with Ellen?
At the grand opening; I am wondering even more because David clearly wanted more contact than he got with Ellen. Ellen greets client Vernon (Gilly Gilchrist) who is actually nice to her for once, but she's not feeling too friendly at the moment. She knows Paula has been spiking her references and not heeding Ian's warning, she goes straight for her.
I legit don't want to watch this part.
Paula leads Ellen on a little chase round the library; stopping at the top of the stairs and shouting "don't touch me" then throwing herself down the stairs.
Paula! You're at a work function! You're affecting work again! And that tumble looked truly ridiculous.
Ellen is led away by the police, who didn't talk to me about whether that fall looked ridiculous.
It's much worse than that; now that Ellen has been charged with a violent crime, she's not allowed to be around Lia. Ian was able to talk them into letting him care for their daughter but she can't be around Lia until later, and only supervised.
He confronts her: is she fucking David? Ellen and I are shocked; he means it. He sees them together and it's not just a construct of Paula's: Kay thought so and he does to. It takes our breath away.
Paula is holding interviews for Kay's replacement when she's interrupted by Lucy: Ellen is on the phone and if she doesn't take the call, she'll come in.
Paula doesn't get a chance to talk; Ellen explains her position clearly and bluntly. She has nothing to lose; she has no choice but to dedicate every waking moment to her.
Stay careful, Paula.
Paula tells Lucy to record it the next time, but I don't think there will be a next time, you?
Paula visits Ian next; she's withdrawn her complaint against Ellen, which prompts Ian to ask if Ellen did push her after all?
My heart hurts for Ellen that she married and had a baby with a man who A) believes she lied about that and B) thinks it's better that she doesn't see Lia.
Paula's dropped off a bracelet that monitors every single thing about the baby; that's a bit creepy, yes? And expensive, since she's paid for the monitoring for the next two years. What's she playing at?
Lia looks great! All chubby and that bracelet looks yummy, yes it does! Yes it does!
Alone at work, separated from everyone else is Paula; brought to tears by the memory of holding wee baby Lia. Do you think she might try to hook up with Ian to get that baby?
Ellen and Ian are divorcing; I don't like her odds for custody at this point. He's asking for a paternity test, which if she refuses, will still be saying something. She says no.
I'm starting to get worried that Lia actually IS David's baby; did they have a sloppy night at work or something? Because it's one thing for Paula to throw that allegation around, it's quite another for Ian to actually believe it.
Paula and Ian go for a walk and talk about their respective spouses; they are getting super close, yes?
David meets Ellen by Kay's memorial; does he really believe that all the women in his life went mental right at the same time a new woman showed up? Ah damn, he told Kay that if he HAD been having an affair with Ellen, he might have at least got a baby. He repeated that to Paula while drunk. Jesus wept. She begs him to take a long, hard look at Paula and then runs away as he yells.
She runs crying to her sister Rianne (Sarah MacRae); she needs to go to her house and see Lia right now! What she sees is Paula playing with Lia while a smiling Ian looks on; quite the happy family, yes?
And Ellen on the outside.
She heads for an unlikely ally: Ian's mum Beth (Siobhan Redmond) who understands what's going on. Ellen forced Paula to give up the illusion of her child, what better replacement than the child who's been so severely neglected? Now let's talk custody.
Ellen can't believe Beth is going to help her get custody of Lia away from her son.
David does as asked and takes a long look at Paula at work; helpful that she's in the office right next to him now that both Kay and Ellen are gone. At home he goes through Kay's phone again; Kay had tracked down a license plate number of who maybe hit Caris? Is that Georgia? Is that what Paula's holding over her?
AH! Just as I thought that, we get Georgia admitting just that. But she says she's doing it out of respect for Paula; none of this is making sense.
Paula is heading back to the office from work when she sees police out front and Lucy showing them her computer.
She racewalks in the other direction.
Ian (in super tight pants) is cuddling Lia outside; he pops in to warm up some breastmilk (tell me that's not odd) and lunch for himself when all of a sudden: Lia's gone.
He thinks it was Ellen, but I'd bet money it was Paula.
I'm right; Ian screams his head off at Ellen but she's getting texts from Paula; Ellen is to come alone to the place where Caris died.
At least Paula finally admits to killing Kay, who wouldn't stop asking questions about Caris, but didn't care either. She leads Ellen to a car, where there is no Lia, but the sound of Lia's crying on her phone. It's from an IP address; she'll only negotiate with Ellen. Is Ellen refusing to negotiate?
For Lia to survive, Ellen has to kill herself. Paula knows she can't have Lia, but she can't let Ellen have her back, either. She has a bottle of pills for Ellen and we're at end game.
Ellen only wants to know where Lia is first, Paula made me choke here.
Ellen takes the pills and waits to die while Paula monologues about keeping in touch with Lia and I wonder where the hell Ian and the police are??!!
The police go to what I thought was Ian's house, but there are pictures of Caris everywhere so I must be confused. Paula isn't there anyway, she's at the cemetery at Caris's gravestone.
Ellen comes to and fights her way out of the car Paula locked her in; seriously, that looked impossible. I'd hate to see how long it would take me to figure half of that stuff out. It's the airbags that she uses in the end and then she's off to find Lia at the Brathness Library, where we began and where we will end.
The police drive up with Paula; they handcuff her in front of Ellen as we worry that they'll try to take Lia.
We've advanced now; Rianne feels exactly the same about Ian as I do
Ellen is slightly more understanding; what can he do to make this up to her? Sure, he can see Lia. On the weekends. What a knob.
I've spent the last half hour hoping that David and Ellen make a couple although I understand that's a bit weird.
Ellen and wee Lia (who's walking!) run into Vernon at the Brathness Library, he'd like to put her in touch with some people for work but she demurs. He thinks it's because of Lia, smiling and calling her a "full time job." Ellen snaps back immediately that Lia isn't a job, she's her daughter, then goes to Kay's gravesite to read Lia a book about construction and have a picnic.
Just at the end we see David making his way down to them and THEN IT CUTS OFF. Come ON!! Okay allright, I can use my imagination. And I guess it wasn't that weird after all. We're out.
Well done, The Replacement. About halfway through I wasn't sure I was going to be able to finish, it was almost too much at once but the show deftly changed course just enough to keep it real but also moving. I didn't understand ALL of what Paula did, but it was a great drama, gripping and well-paced. There were several vignettes of Paula alone, staring into the abyss quietly that strike me as a hallmark of this director, who also wrote the series: Joe Ahearne. I will have to watch more of his work to find out.
It was beautifully shot and an interesting take on the old The Hand That Rocks The Cradle tale; I like the allusion to Single White Female combined with the Sanctimommy brigade; it gave it almost a Black Mirror feel. Just a slightly exaggerated reality and we can draw the links ourselves. Until next time, you lot, thanks for reading along!