Episode 4 continues the story of the Good Samaritan killer, which was begun in the previous episode. The Grim Reaper seems to have become an agent of chaos, in addition to his role as bringer of death. He’s given up on trying to get God’s attention, and wants to send a message to humanity and to Father Dennis instead. Father Dennis has become the stand in for an absent God, while the entire cast are becoming new versions of Job, with the threat of Hard Sun slowly stripping everything they love from their lives .
The other characters also put time into their season long story arcs, but without the same intensity that we’ve seen in previous episodes. After the deep questions of episode 3, this episode focusses on much more mundane questions. Hard Sun is still coming, but no one particularly cares what it is or what it means, as long as they can take care of their own until it gets here.
This episode begins with Elaine and Will in bed together again, but the fun is interrupted by Elaine’s phone when she’s notified about Thom’s latest murders. She gets dressed and goes to the sidewalk shrine that the community has set up for Thom’s victim Jamie Unwin to start her investigation into the murders of the news reporter and his team. As usual, none of the people who were nearby tried to help the victims, because they feared for their own lives.
Elaine figures out that Jamie’s murder was a set up for these murders, since it was predictable that people would create a shrine and publicly mourn her. She notices that the news camera is abandoned on the ground and asks Mishal to get her the footage. Mishal’s already checked for the card and it’s gone.
Meanwhile, Charlie isn’t at the crime scene because he’s busy breaking and entering, obviously one of his regular hobbies. This time, he’s in Elaine’s attic, looking at her Charlie Hicks v. Alex Butler murder board. When he’s done, he turns on her laptop and takes out a piece of paper with the password on it (Magdalen Alpha). Grace has been busy. Charlie discovers that Elaine has photos of him that he doesn’t remember being taken, and a video interview with Mari.
Will arrives home, singing Blue Moon to himself. Someone begins to follow him threateningly, also humming Blue Moon, as he draws closer to his building. Will runs up several flights of stairs to his place, with the Grim Reaper right behind. When Will gets to his door, he’s panicking about getting it open, so of course he can’t get the key to work.
Thom catches up to Will, drags him inside his own flat, and ties him to a chair. Thom keeps his mask on, and waves his knife around threateningly, but he actually sees Will as somewhat of a kindred spirit, someone who knows the truth, but whose voice has been silenced. For that reason, he’s chosen Will to give him a voice by posting Thom’s message from the news camera’s SD card. Thom tells Will that he’s “giving him his life back” for this purpose.
After Thom leaves, Will goes through a valiant Moral Struggle, trying to decide whether to hand the chip over to Elaine, to some other authority, or to use the scoop that he’s just been given to revive his lost career and keep himself alive. He watches the footage, which shows Thom taking control of the broadcast and murdering the reporter on camera, while saying, “The Hard Sun is coming, and I am it’s messenger.”
Will’s right to free speech, or whatever it’s called in Britain, wins out, and he takes the story to his former boss at Full Disclosure. This would be the boss who fired him, rather than standing behind his original story on the Hard Sun file. The chance to use Hard Sun as a way to nearly blackmail Alan Beeny into publishing him again had to be too hard to resist. As Will points out, he could take the story anywhere. But being taken back by Full Disclosure redeems him in way that a one shot story somewhere else wouldn’t.
The police investigation has moved back to the station, where Charlie finally joins them. Enough witnesses noticed Thom before he put his sock mask on to give them a pretty good artist’s sketch of the Grim Reaper to use now.
They also know about the Jesus head from the church statue, and are trying to figure out where it came from. Soon it’ll be on the back of milk cartons all over Britain. “Missing: Son of God. Have you seen this deity?”
They also know the Grim Reaper wears German paratrooper boots. Disgusted with how slowly the investigation is going, Elaine drags Father Dennis out of the holding room that he’s been in for hours and shows him the murder board, including the victims. She yells at him that all of this is happening because he won’t reveal the name of the killer. DCS Bell hears the commotion and puts a stop to it, sending Dennis home.
He calls Elaine into his office to inform her that the deal she cut to have Daniel sent to a psychiatric hospital instead of prison is now off, since she’s decided that Charlie is innocent of Butler’s murder, but hasn’t provided any evidence for her conclusion. Daniel will be sent to prison when he’s released from the hospital, unless Elaine brings Bell and his superiors the head of Alex Butler’s killer, or a reasonable substitute, soon.
When Elaine emerges from Bell’s office, Charlie notices that she’s upset. She tells him that Bell found out that Daniel’s in the hospital and ordered her to take compassionate leave, but she’s not going to. George, Keith and Mishal have started hashing out the theory that the Grim Reaper has probably tried to get his message out before, using some form of media, and has probably spoken to friends and family about his complaints. They’re just starting to realize that he’ll try again, and go bigger, when Elaine figures out that she shouldn’t be ignoring Will’s calls.
He’s been trying to warn her that the Grim Reaper’s recording is about to go live. Elaine plays it for the team. After the part we’ve already seen, Thom continues:
“Hard Sun is coming. Hard Sun is not God. God is the creation and the light. God is the Word. Hard Sun is destruction and darkness and silence. You think yourselves good, but you’re monsters. You consume more than you could ever need, while all over the world, children die in misery. Your gluttony is a holocaust of dead infants. Your charity is nourished by death and despair. Your charity is your hypocrisy, and your hypocrisy is your death sentence. I’m here to punish you. This city is an unmarked grave, but Dennis can stop me. Father Dennis Chapman can stop me.”
There’s not much new in this speech. The most interesting note is that Thom has stopped blaming God for what’s gone wrong and switched to blaming people. His current philosophy is that God created the world then stepped back and left it for people to sort out and run. People have royally screwed it up, so now Thom and Hard Sun are stepping in to judge them. Thom wants to force God, through Dennis as His representative, to admit that humanity and the world are a mess that aren’t worth saving.
Dennis goes into hiding, while the story is discussed on social media and talk radio. Everyone has guessed the truth, that Dennis knows the Grim Reaper’s identity because he confessed to Dennis. Some understand why Dennis won’t turn him in, some don’t.
Thom continues his crime spree. He immolates two men outside of a barbershop, and questions a girl collecting money for cancer before deciding that her heart isn’t pure, so he’ll let her go. Part of his plan is to force people to face the worst in themselves, the side that will save themselves rather than help a stranger, or will actively hurt others to get what they want.
When Elaine and Charlie arrive at the barbershop to investigate the double murder, Bell tells them that the case has been passed up to Counter Terrorism. From now on Charlie’s team will act as a support unit for them, and Bell expects smiling cooperation. Charlie argues that Thom is a murderer, not a terrorist, and CT won’t pay enough attention to the details of the case, but to no avail.
Charlie’s daughter calls because she’s scared that the Grim Reaper will come to her school and kill people, like what happens in America. Charlie calms her down and gets her off to school.
Then Charlie and Elaine agree that they’re still going to work the case. Elaine will visit Daniel and find Will, who’s gone into hiding. They know Thom is watching Will, as well as Dennis, and can use that. Charlie will use some kind of unethical means to draw Father Dennis into his plot to draw out Thom.
Charlie has a meeting with Grace, who checks in with him about the murder board and the computer log in. Showing him what Elaine is up to was her side of the bargain, now she expects Charlie to figure out where the flashdrive is. Grace tells Charlie that she went to Daniel because Elaine has no friends, only enemies. She decided to find the enemy that Elaine could trust the most, but now she’s hit a dead end.
George, Mishal and Keith help Counter Terrorism interview citizens who have come forward with possible information about the killer. They unknowingly interview at least two people who’ve had contact with him.
Charlie meets Dennis outside, to discuss what happens next. Dennis, who has no sense of irony, commands Charlie to catch the killer, because he’s the POLICE!! Charlie points out the OBVIOUS, that Dennis is the one who knows the killer’s name. The conversation is so similar to Dennis’ conversation with Thom, about why God doesn’t stop bad things from happening, that it’s almost funny. I guess expecting the police to solve every crime immediately is the science version of Thom’s belief in an all-powerful, all-seeing God. Dennis expects the police to have all-powerful forensics and all-seeing surveillance cameras, now that he’s the one who’s being threatened. He didn’t care how long it took to stop Thom, until he had to stop sleeping in his own cosy bed.
Charlie explains to Dennis that the case has been moved to Counter Terrorism. Then he wanders away from the truth, telling Dennis that he’s been sent to take Dennis into protective custody, whether Dennis likes it or not. I think Dennis is secretly relieved, since he doesn’t bother to put up a fight.
Elaine has a secret meeting of her own, with Mari Butler. After establishing that they prefer to be honest with each other, Elaine asks if Mari thinks Charlie killed Alex. Mari becomes upset as she answers, swearing that Charlie is innocent. Elaine assures Mari that she thinks Charlie is innocent, too, but there are people in the department who think he’s guilty and want his head.
All of that faux caring allows Charlie to wrap women around his little finger.
What Elaine can’t figure out is why Charlie isn’t doing anything to clear his name, if he’s innocent. The only reason she can come up with for him accepting the blame in the court of public opinion is because he’s protecting the real killer. Mari denies having any information about Alex’s death or that would help clear Charlie. Elaine asks Mari to think about it, and let her know if she changes her mind.
Elaine was implying that Mari might be the real killer. Nothing we’ve seen suggests that. Everything we’ve seen suggests that Charlie is the killer, which means everything Elaine has seen suggests that, too.
Will is interviewed by a TV news show, which tries to blame Will for Thom’s killing spree, since he made the Hard Sun “hoax” public, and it’s now inspired Thom to kill. The interviewer also claims that the “hoax” ended Will’s career. Will points out that he clearly still has a career, since he’s sitting there, and that the Hard Sun story didn’t cause Thom’s break with reality. Will says the story isn’t about him, it’s about the public’s right to know. I have to agree with him there. People had a right to know about Hard Sun, and they have a right to know the truth about the serial killer in their midst.
Elaine texts with Will, on the pretext of apologizing for ignoring him that morning. Now she’s supposedly looking for another hook up. She tells him that she’s been unavailable because of Daniel’s suicide attempt. He’s sympathetic about Daniel, but turns her down because he’s in hiding and he doesn’t trust her.
Charlie checks in with Keith, who tells him that the interviews gave them more information than they can manage to sift through, and they have no way of knowing what’s important. Charlie tells him to have George cross reference everyone against the names in Dennis’ address book, to see who they might have in common.
Charlie hangs up and goes inside the old warehouse where he’s holding Dennis, who’s tied to a chair, and very grouchy. He keeps trying to order Charlie to stop and speaking as an authority figure who has special knowledge of Charlie’s character because of his relationship with God. But Charlie has no higher morality for Dennis to play off of, and a man who’s allowing a serial killer to keep operating in London isn’t going to have much credibility with a cop.
I personally think Dennis should turn Thom in, but there are good arguments in both directions. I don’t think we need to be extending therapeutic protections to active serial killers. But if Dennis is going to stand his ground, then he ought to stop complaining and maintain some dignity. Talking to Charlie as if he’s some sort of morally righteous authority figure, in order to manipulate the man who’s manipulating him, is ridiculous.
But all of this is just a warm up on Charlie’s part. He slowly goes through the preparations to waterboard Dennis, while explaining to the priest how difficult it is to withstand this form of torture. Dennis becomes more frantic, until he’s practically doing an exorcism. Charlie becomes more and more dramatic about the need to get the killer’s name, and the danger Dennis is in because the people are scared and want his blood, too.
Finally, Charlie kicks Dennis’ chair over backwards onto a mattress, as Dennis is crying out for Charlie to let him go. Charlie yells at Dennis, accidentally telling us his philosophy of life.
Charlie: Where is it you could go? The people are scared, and they blame you. And scared people do terrible things. They’ll crucify you. They’ll rip you to pieces. People are animals.
Dennis: You don’t think that.
Charlie: Oh, I more than think it.
Dennis: Are you a gambling man, Charlie?
Dennis: Because I’m offering a wager. If you’ll agree to let me go, we’ll tell everyone where I am. Everyone. And then we’ll see who comes.
That’s what Charlie was waiting to hear. Dennis has walked into Charlie’s trap.
Charlie, as a cop, has seen the worst of humanity. He’s become cynical, and believes that “people are animals” and that “scared people do terrible things.” That doesn’t leave much room for compassion or optimism, qualities which Charlie fakes in order to manipulate friends and family, but he doesn’t seem to actually feel. He’s manipulating both Dennis and Elaine in these scenes.
Charlie lets Elaine know that he’s got Dennis right where he wants him, so it’s time for her to go ahead with her part of the plan.
Elaine finds Will’s hotel using the ISP address on the emails he sent her. She pretends that she lied about Daniel’s suicide and only wanted to find him for work. She also tells Will that he should have brought her Thom’s recording, rather than running to a news outlet and using it to save himself. He’s smart enough to point out that she did exactly the same thing with the Hard Sun file when she came to him. He doesn’t owe her for that.
Elaine moves on and admits why she’s there. She needs a story published that will help catch Thom, but it can’t ever be traced back to her. She needs him to hang Dennis Chapman out to dry. (Again.) Will lets her in.
Charlie brings Dennis to a small church. Unlike his home church, St Mary’s, which is ornate and wealthy, this is a very plain church with simple ornamentation and benches for pews. It’s a beautiful space, but also a much more humble setting for Dennis to use for his prayers and vigil. His religion is as much about theater and presentation as it is about sacrifice and devotion.
Dennis is going to wait in the church, alone, as bait for Thom. He tells Charlie that he’s never completely alone implying that, as a priest, God is always with him. Yes, I guess Jamie Unwin just didn’t believe in God hard enough in between shifts on the suicide hotline. That’s why He didn’t protect her. Same with all of the little babies Thom saw die in the floods. Dennis really doesn’t understand what’s at stake. His privilege has protected him his whole life, and he’s never had his faith truly tested.
Once Dennis gets out of the car and goes into the church, Charlie calls Keith and asks him to pull the file from Elaine’s teenage rape case. He has a hunch he wants to follow up on.
Will posts his story, a report on Dennis spending the evening alone (with God) in a church, praying. He doesn’t want anyone to pray with him because it would just put them in danger. A tweet and selfie from Dennis is included with the story with enough distinctive background characteristics that anyone who knows the church will recognize it.
When Charlie gets the information from Elaine’s rape file, he turns the information over to Grace. when she was 14, her parents filed rape charges against her English teacher, Noah Underhill, but Elaine refused to cooperate, and the charges were eventually dropped. Elaine saved his career and probably kept him out of jail. He’d be the enemy she could trust to call in a favor.
Grace is impressed with Charlie’s work. In exchange, she’s supposed to keep his family safe, right up until the end.
George connects the report that Thom’s mother made about his downward spiral since he did aid work in Macedonia to his name and address in Dennis’ address book. They decide to further investigate him, starting with searching his apartment. They find books like, “Reflections on Suffering and Evil”, “The Problem of Pain” and “Evil and the Justice of God”. Those aren’t suspicious titles at all. They pass Thom’s name on to Counter Terrorism as a suspect, where he’s lost in the sea of suspects for all of the crimes they’re investigating.
A young couple are relaxing at home when they hear noise outside. Despite her husband reminding her that it’s dangerous to help strangers right now, the wife goes outside anyway. Sure enough, she encounters the Grim Reaper, who chases her back into her apartment. She runs into the kitchen and grabs a knife, then stabs him in the chest, killing him.
The man is William Cherry, 48, a religious maniac with psychiatric problems who promised God’s vengeance on sinners. Counter Terrorism had him at the top of their list of suspects. No connection to Dennis. He’s assumed to be the Grim Reaper and the case is closed. George, who discovered the connection between Thom and Dennis, notices that Cherry looks nothing like the artist’s sketch, and isn’t so sure they have the right man.
Father Dennis faces his first moment of truth as there’s a loud pounding on the church doors. He stares at it for minutes with a sick look on his face. He walks toward the door like he’s walking to his execution, but he gets a reprieve. It’s Father Michael, from this church, and a group of parishioners, who recognized the church on the news and insist on waiting with Dennis.
As a crowd of people enters the church, George tells Charlie that he’s certain that William Cherry was a copycat. He tells Charlie to look for Thom Blackwood. Charlie and Elaine tell George to have Armed Response meet them at the church, then they go inside to look for Thom.
Thom has indeed snuck in amongst the crowd. When Dennis notices him, he decides that he has to try to get everyone else out before Thom becomes violent. He stands in front of the altar and makes a speech:
“I look at your faces, and you all seem so content in your bravery and goodness. So keen to be congratulated. But looking out at the faces before me, I don’t see goodness and I don’t see self-sacrifice. I see a rabble of complacent, self-satisfied narcissists. Now you may not like what I’m saying, but it’s truth. And the truth will save you. You’re contemptible and I need you out of here. All of you, out of my sight. Everyone, go!!”
Thom loves this speech, and laughs cynically all the way through it. By the time Dennis finishes, Thom is at the front of the crowd. Charlie and Elaine have somehow not noticed the one guy still moving through the crowd and laughing inappropriately. Thom grabs a girl, forces her to her knees, and pulls out a machete the size of a sword.
Everyone screams and runs for the exits. Elaine and Charlie catch and subdue Thom. Thom says that Dennis was telling the truth, and that’s all he wanted, for Dennis to know the truth. But Dennis has lies in mind. He makes up a story for Charlie and Elaine to use to cover up for him, then punches Thom in the face, over and over, asking if Thom, “Can you hear Him now?”
Even after they’ve had to pull Dennis off of Thom, Thom still yells at Dennis that he doesn’t hear anything.
Elaine goes home to an empty house. Charlie goes home and finds that his daughter has left a cookie out for him. Mari cries over her wedding photos. Charlie was the best man. Because Grace is a terrible person who won’t do her own dirty work, she drops off an envelope with information about Noah Underhill’s rape charge with Daniel while he’s sleeping. After opening the envelope, Daniel releases himself from the hospital on his own recognizance. It’s time for a visit to his dad.
I’m trying not to say this every episode, but seriously, you’d think some scientist, somewhere, would be checking out the supposed hoax to see if there’s any factual basis to it and discovering the truth, but I guess this show’s going to hold onto the pretense that no one would notice the Hard Sun changes except government scientists for as long as possible. In modern times, with amateurs that have tech to rival professionals and the ability to communicate with each other through the internet, there’s really no way to keep global or astronomical changes a secret.
I wish they’d given Grace something better to do, like run a disinformation campaign that tries to convince people not to worry, in order to stave off panic, or to convince people that continuing with their daily lives is what’s best. That’s what she believes, and she’s relentless enough to be good at pushing the public in that direction, hard.
Charlie slips and lets Dennis see his real face for a moment, expressing that he believes people are no better than animals and that they become a dangerous mob when they face fear. Which is an insult to animals, since many are gentler and more peaceful than humans.
No wonder he doesn’t let himself be honest with or truly trust anyone. But then, this is the guy who can’t stand to leave the city, because things grow there. He’s totally cut himself off from any sense of spirituality, community, or oneness with anything that he might ever have had, and sees himself as an island in hostile territory. He makes alliances, but knows they are temporary.
Like a true Slytherin, Charlie sees the world as a dog eat dog, survival of the fittest competition in which everyone will do anything they have to, no matter how illegal or immoral, to survive. He feels justified in the terrible things that he does, because they’d all be done to him if he didn’t do them to someone else first. He protects himself and whoever is currently passing the tribalistic code he uses to determine who’s part of his family. But, like any old-fashioned patriarch, he has rules that have to be followed, and a hierarchy of family members, according to most and least expendable.
Elaine is a Hufflepuff who trusts people unless given a reason not to, works hard, and doesn’t start stuff. She’s loyal to a fault once her loyalty is earned. She’s learned through hard experience how few good, honest people there are in the world. Like so many capable women, she has an unfortunate soft spot for broken men, which is her Achilles heel. If we examine Hard Sun through the lens of a noir, she’s the ingenue, who’s a little older and wiser, but still giving people the benefit of the doubt who may not deserve it.
They never mention it in the episode, but recordings like Thom’s, and the writings of serial killers, have been published by the authorities in the past in the hopes that someone who knows the killer will recognize their words, and killers have been caught that way. The Unabomber was caught when his manifesto was published and his family recognized his writing. The team was working toward that idea when Elaine received the message that Will had Thom’s recording.
I doubt that Dennis had ever personally confronted the kind of horror and misery that Thom saw in Macedonia, so he was safe and comfortable spouting his platitudes and Bible verses, without having a true, visceral understanding of what it means to suffer deeply or to witness such suffering. By the end of the episode, Thom has finally given Dennis a small taste of it, especially when he puts his machete to the girl’s throat just a few feet from Dennis.
There’s nothing Dennis can do to stop it. He’s afraid that she’s going to die a violent, bloody death, right in front of him, that he could have prevented. He’s never experienced that kind of helplessness before, and he’s confronted with the cruelty God allows to go on. Dennis’s response is violence against the person who made him suffer and realize how powerless he is.
I don’t think Dennis really understood the story of Job any better than Thom. Actually, I think Thom’s the one who understood it. He just refused to accept that a God that’s worth believing in could be that cruel.
Dennis does not fall to his knees and thank God that he’s still alive or sing Hallelujah and rejoice in his humbleness. He lets the deadly sin of pride overcome him and beats up the person who took his comfort and illusions away, under the guise of being angry about what Thom did to others. But that punishment wasn’t his to hand out. If he’s not allowed to make the decision to betray the privacy of the confessional in order to help stop a killer, then he’s not allowed to punish Thom for secular crimes, either.
Images courtesy of Hulu.