Inside No. 9 – Was Series 5 Any Good?

After starting Inside No. 9 last year, it easily became one of my favourite programs, and I was lucky enough to be able to go to the sold out preview of the new series at the BFI.

The Referee’s A W***er
The beautiful game. The crunch-clash between United and Rovers in the last match of the season, all safely in the care of the four match officials.

As I wrote in my review of the preview event, I’m not a sports person, but I enjoyed this episode. The jokes were funny, and I thought the twist at the end was brilliant. The guest performances were all good, I thought, but when writing this retrospective of the season this was the episode that didn’t come to me as much, possibly as sports isn’t big in my life. I liked this episode but I’m not sure I’ll revisit it often.

Death Be Not Proud
Beattie and Sam are a young couple finally on the property ladder. But the only flat they can afford has a dark and sinister past, one that demands to be heard.

This episode is the Psychoville episode and sadly, I’ve never seen Psychoville. While the episode makes sense if you haven’t seen Psychoville, it would definitely benefit from seeing it. This episode is probably the one I disliked most, although I definitely didn’t dislike it. However, the guest stars were completely underused, which was a shame, because I enjoyed what little there was of Jenna Coleman’s performance.

Love’s Great Adventure
Trevor and Julia always want to make Christmas really special for their family, but this year, with money so tight, things aren’t going to be easy. As each door of the Advent calendar opens, everyone will have to do their bit to make Christmas happen.

Twitter seemed to hate this episode, but I thought that in it’s own way, it was beautiful. The performances were some of the best I have seen in any Inside No. 9, comparable to Sheridan Smith’s performance in the 12 Days of Christine, and I liked the fact that it focused on the difficulties family can go through together, rather than just focusing on a horror-based twist. I think this episode will end up being seen as one of the underrated episodes, and maybe it needs time to be appreciated.

World-famous magician Neville Griffin is extremely protective of his secrets, but student journalist Gabriel is determined to get an interview nonetheless. Griffin actually believes that stealing a magic trick is probably worse than murder. How would he know that, exactly?

After the preview, I thought to myself “The Stakeout is amazing and I really enjoyed it. I’m really going to struggle to find one I enjoy more this season, I think.” And I was completely wrong. I loved Misdirection! I thought it was so cleverly done and it took me a couple of watches to fully see every little trick and detail. It felt so much like episodes in earlier seasons, and to me it especially felt similar to Riddle of the Sphinx of the third season, another episode I loved. I think the fact these episodes revolve specific interests of Shearsmith and Pemberton really cements how good these specific episodes are. Misdirection is definitely, like the Riddle of the Sphinx, going to be an episode I revisit often.

Thinking Out Loud
Seven disparate characters share their stories with a camera, their fates inevitably, inextricably and unknowingly set for a head-on collision.

This episode was a very conflicting one for me because I really enjoyed it, but I felt that the ending took away from the story, which I didn’t like. Firstly, I thought it was a good way of showing the type of narrative used, and I thought the direction was good. The performances were all good, especially Maxine Peake, and I liked how they all interlinked. All of the characters were remarkably different and believable, which I appreciated for a story about DID. I feel like a DID storyline would have eventually cropped up in Inside No. 9, and for the most part it seemed well researched and respectful, but the last scene definitely let it down.

The first (minor) issue I had with the ending was that the narrator had to explain about DID to Nadia and therefore the audience instead of it being shown over a longer period of time, but I feel if this episode was longer this would have been avoided. Nadia’s almost instantaneous acceptance seemed strange to me, although the situation she was in at that point makes this more understandable. I hated that the persecutor alter was a murderer who was proud of his acts and took visible glee in them, and I definitely hated that as soon as the dad showed up, it immediately turned into a ‘people with DID are dangerous murderers’ trope. I don’t know how I would have resolved the episode but I don’t think that further buying into tropes such as this was the best ending. To me, this was a massive shame, as the episode was really interesting and enjoyable until the last five minutes or so and then the ending buying into these old tropes let it down massively for me.

This episode is one that I definitely wanted to hear other people’s opinions on, especially systems with DID. While I felt that it was a good episode, it definitely left me unsettled in a more ‘real-life’ version of how this might affect people living with DID, rather than the comfortable, fictional way I’m usually unsettled by Inside No. 9.

The Stakeout
Two police officers have time to get to know each other on the night shift. But PC Thompson’s previous partner died in a brutal attack less than a month ago, the forensics have gone missing and PC Varney is beginning to ask a lot of awkward questions.

I saw this episode at the preview event and I really enjoyed it. I loved the whole Gothic vibe of it, similarly to how I loved the Gothic vibe of The Harrowing in the first series, but I feel like this story executed it better. I did not see the twist coming, although in hindsight it was completely obvious-it’s in the title, for God’s sake!-although, I loved it, as I love a decent vampire story.  This was definitely a strong episode, and I really liked it.

How I Would Rank The Episodes

  1. Misdirection
  2. The Stakeout
  3. The Referee’s A W***er
  4. Love’s Great Adventure
  5. Thinking Out Loud
  6. Death Be Not Proud

Public opinion seemed to be that these season was not as good as previous seasons, however, I don’t think that’s true. While some episodes did not connect with me, I don’t think there was one episode that I didn’t enjoy or find merit in, whereas I feel that there have been previous episodes that did not work at all. While I’m sad there now won’t be any more Inside No. 9 until next year at the earliest, I’m going to retry watching the League of Gentlemen while it’s still on Netflix, and I will look for somewhere to watch Psychoville.

Did you watch the new series of Inside No. 9? What did you think of the series?

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