Single-Handed Set 2
Recurring character(s): Garda Sergeant Jack Driscoll (Owen McDonnell), Garda Finbarr Colvin (David Herlihy), Eithne Driscoll (Ruth McCabe)
Original air date(s): 11/07/2010 to 12/12/2010
DVD Date: 03/27/2012
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 304 minutes
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Review: Set on the rugged west coast of Ireland, Single-handed follows Jack Driscoll, a young police sergeant, as he keeps the peace while struggling to come to terms with his late father, who held the post before him. I very much enjoyed the first season of this series and was greatly looking forward to the second, final season.
Three two-part episodes comprise this season, and while each has its own crime-related storyline, there is also an overall story arc that threads its way through each. It originally aired as the fourth — and presumably final — "season" in Ireland.
The first episode, "The Lost Boys", introduces the two new characters: Brian Doyle (Matthew McNulty) and Gemma Burge (Simone Lahbib). Brian has learned that he and Jack are cousins, Brian's father is the brother to Jack's mother, Eithne; he and his girlfriend Gemma have come to Ireland to find him. Jack is surprised, as his uncle was banished from the family when he was a child, never to be heard or seen from again. Except Eithne has kept in touch over the years, not often but enough to know where he is. Meanwhile, the suspect in the murder of an elderly man is from a home for troubled youth, one not unlike that to which Brian's father was sent when he was young.
There's a lot to like about this episode, from the strong murder mystery plot to the family dynamics involved when a stranger enters the picture. It is by far the best episode of this set.
The murder mystery in the second episode, "Between Two Fires", is also well-plotted, when a young woman is found dead of smoke inhalation when a house in an abandoned holiday project goes up in flames. On the family front, now that Brian has met his father, he's decided to put down roots … by assuming control of the land on which Eithne lives. Gemma thinks this is wrong, and breaks up with him. Not coincidentally, she finds herself attracted to Jack, and he to her.
The family subplot begins to wear a little thin here, seemingly taking up more screen time than the murder investigation. It's a solid episode, but not a great one.
The rivalry between Jack and Brian takes center stage in the third and final episode, "A Cold Heaven", the intrafamily drama well past being compelling television. There is no murder mystery to solve at all here, though there is a crime: the teenaged daughter of a local merchant is believed to be a member of a prostitution ring based in the area. This is without question the weakest episode of the season, indeed of the entire set, and a disappointing way to close out the series. Jack seems to have come to terms with his dead father and has found a new love. I suppose this is in keeping with the premise of the series, which for this season is more of a character study than a police drama.
I definitely recommend the series — the first season being by far the better of the two — but would have preferred that the focus this season had remained more on Jack Driscoll, the garda, and not so much on Jack Driscoll, the man.
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