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Monroe: Season 2 - Final episode review

Monroe, Tom Riley

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

NOW this is how to deliver a season finale! After the disappointment of Downton Abbey and its third season whimper, medical drama Monroe delivered the required fireworks (apt for having been aired on November 5!).

With the fallout from Lawrence Shepherd (Tom Riley)‘s newly exposed affair with Sarah Witney (Christina Chong) just waiting to happen, viewers had every right to expect a heart-wrenching final hour. And the show duly delivered against the backdrop of a multiple car pile-up that involved multiple casualties.

This was an episode that had it all: dramatic tension, sharp-witted humour, character progression, death, life-saving and enough of a cliff-hanger ending to leave you thirsting for more.

And the cast was on fine form. Riley and Sarah Parish arguably stole the show as their long-suffering relationship finally came to an end. But the way they arrived at the decision was gripping stuff.

Parish’s Jenny Bremner remains a fascinating paradox… a brilliant surgeon, she remains a cold, self-isolating figure who made it nigh on impossible for Shepherd to succeed romantically. He said as much in one fiery exchange, describing her as being unlovable, and while the accusation clearly left its mark, the tears that followed (a fleeting moment of vulnerability) indicated that, perhaps, he had gotten through the barricades and, maybe, was right.

Riley, too, conveyed the guilt and heartbreak of his predicament with aplomb. Ever the genial presence by virtue of his bro-mance with James Nesbitt’s Monroe, his fall from grace this season has been fascinating to watch. And his role in the break-up of his family was hard to ignore.

But that’s where this sophomore run of Monroe has excelled – carrying over the moral and ethical dilemmas inherent in some of the surgical decisions into the character’s personal lives as well. No character is good or bad. They’re all rounded, flawed individuals.

Having shouldered a large part of the emotional drama last week (in his scenes with Parish), Nesbitt was able to concentrate more on being his brash, charismatic self for the final episode and duly delivered some zinging put-downs, especially when picking up the slack for arrogant colleague Springer (Luke Allen-Gale).

But he also shared some nice intimate moments with Bremner and his ex-wife Anna (Susan Lynch) that worked well in the scheme of things.

Worthy of praise, too, have been Michelle Asante’s continued ascent as the dependable Wilson (her newfound confidence pleasing to see as she intervened to prevent Springer killing a patient), and the addition of Neil Pearson, who has brought his usual brilliance to another likeable character.

One now hopes to see a third season of this fine medical drama to see just how things progress from the emotional devastation of Shepherd’s indiscretion. We hope, too, that Riley can find a way back (we’d miss his camaraderie with Monroe) and keep our fingers crossed for Pearson’s Gillespie too.

Read our verdict on the first episode