Entertainment

Review: Peep Show series 9 (half way check in)

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It’s become clear, after watching the third episode of the final series of Peep Show, that things really are coming to an end. Mark and Jez, having spent over a decade as the Croydon Sisyphus, have pushed the boulder over the top and can only watch as it gathers pace away from them.

Whether it’s Mark wearing blue eyeshadow to mask his attempts at cuckoldry from an old acquaintance (fans will remember Season 2’s shy university student April, now back and turned author in an unhappy marriage) or Jez going from two simultaneous affairs, to an open relationship, to a fight, to floor sex in the space of five minutes, every character trait and tendency for connivance flows thick and fast in this episode, as the pair’s lives finally unravel at the seams.

Few actual events happen across the 24 minutes, which adds to the sense of oppressive imprisonment which has pervaded the series so far. Mark goes to visit April at a book signing, and Jeremy continues his unfruitful quest to be a real life coach, never to be fulfilled because of his own failures. The second half of the episode revolves around a truly grim dinner party (“For the cheese course I have a soft cheese [Dairylea moulded together with my bare hands]”) at which four of six attendees weren’t invited.

The dinner party is the focal point, and shows off just how unsophisticated the El Dude brothers have become in their schemes. Far from cooking and concealing a dead dog in a hair-brained attempt to move to India to avoid a wedding, we have Mark throwing every scant ingredient he owns into one horrible dish in a blind panic. Jeremy, meanwhile, makes almost no effort to wipe out his own wrongdoing, other than one quick play with a lighter.

The blue eyeshadow mentioned earlier is applied to cover up an uncomfortable message scrawled on Mark’s eyelids, when it seems like a truth self-evident that Jeremy – fancying himself as cool – would own a pair of sunglasses. It’s the sort of thing that might have been pulled up as a glaring omission in previous series’, but now we’ve had the Waterboarding of Jerry and Mark’s accidental voyeurism, the moral horizon and sense of propriety appear both to be fading away.

That’s not to say the duo we know and love have turned into David Lynch characters. There’s still obscure trivia-dropping Mark (“I think Bez won Big Brother around then – Kilroy started Veritas”) and Jeremy’s never quite on the money life tips (“the thing about having sex with a guy, it’s like having your car fixed at the actual dealership”). The episode is the first to lack serious appearances from Super Hans, and it’s a shame – his presence at parties, either in Series Six (“fuckin’ rental snake, innit”) or as the starter of a fire burned out of control in the New Year episode (“it’s the heart of darkness, Jez!”), has always been a source of impressive insanity. Here an independent arbiter, a stand-in for the viewer not up to their own schemes, might have provided even more glorious insight.

One minor worry that goes through the mind is that this narrative of the well oiled machinery of the pair falling rusty and ineffective through time might not last. Episode three contained all the hilarity and cringeworthy moments (“I’m gonna buy me a box of wet wipes and have me a wanky Byzantine party”) of a season finale, but we’ve still three stops along the line before it all hits the buffers at Apollo House. Whether Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong kept enough fuel back to keep ramping it up while staying sane is the question, although over the years they’ve given us few reasons to doubt their ability.

We’ve seen little of Alan Johnson so far, nor heard a peep from Jeff or Sophie, so there is undoubtedly much to explore. Is Super Hans settling down into the married life? And with the reintroduction of April, how many more of Mark’s bungled love interests will we run back into? There’s 72 minutes of viewing left, and a lot more stories to tell.

 

Words by Robin Wilde

Jess is your Deputy Editor

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