I am more than a wee bit in love with Eternal Law now. A lot of that love is for Zac, the very middle-class angel happy to mock himself (with regards to the ‘poor fish’ he’s buying at the market: “Line caught on the Tweed by a hirsute man called Malcolm, apparently.”) as well as others, but there is plenty of love for Tom and Mrs Sheringham too. Not to mention the heart and wit and intelligence and spirit that Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah have written into every line of the series.
This week, there is more darkness than before. It’s clear from both Richard and Zac’s comments (not to mention his own actions – tempting Zac with Hannah, giving him this week’s case, his treatment of Zac after the incident with the Cheshires) that Mr Mountjoy may not actually be all that pleasant.
After Tom accidentally wanders onto an army bombing range and saves the life of Laura, a young soldier with a bayonet deep in her thigh, Zac is asked to defend her in a court martial by her handsome psychiatrist Maj John Parker (Mark Umbers). Solving Laura’s case allows us to learn about one of Zac’s previous missions (as a soldier in the First World War) and lets Zac attempt to defuse the situation with Hannah by setting her up with Maj Parker.
One of the very many things that I love about Eternal Law is the way it uses popular phrases (“My boss is above everybody’s head” “I was first in line when they handed out bodies”) and makes then quite literally true. Also to be loved is the pandering to the female gaze: Ukweli Roach getting his shirt off, Mark Umbers in uniform, Sam West all the time, but especially in braces – and let’s be honest it’s not every man who can make braces sexy.
And the more I learn about the characters, the more I want to know. This week it’s Mrs Sheringham’s turn to get fleshed out as her wedding anniversary looms and her grief for Billy breaks to the surface. I can’t help but worry that the comfort she did find this week is only going to lead to more heartbreak. Zac deals with Mr Mountjoy’s seemingly capricious whims with that lovely dry wit (when Maj Parker turns up the second Zac finishes telling Tom that “men and women in uniform running around with guns gives me the willies, it always has”, he turns his eyes to the heavens and declares in his sarky deadpan “Oh, very funny. Very droll. Look, I’ve popped a rib.”), but I’m not sure Mrs S is in a fit state to deal with such cruelty right now. (Though she can clearly hold her own drinking with the squaddies – I love Tom’s shock: “Mrs Sheringham’s getting drunk!” and Zac’s laconic response: “Yes, I noticed. Better get a round in before she drinks the place dry…”)
There’s good use made of the military themes too. The beautiful and poignant bringing to life of Zac’s tale about the Angel of Mons, the talk of injustice, courts martial and shooting men for ‘cowardice’ in the field of poppies, Tom’s Great Escape moment and his over-extended metaphor on the cathedral roof – all great additions to the mix.
And then of course there’s the tension of the unexploded mortar scene which ends as we all know it will and comes with a lovely punchline too.
With only one hour to go, I now have everything crossed that ITV will be commissioning a second series of Eternal Law ASAP. In the meantime I am just going to have to look forward to Zac finally giving Richard a great big slap…
Posted by Jo the Hat