Parallel timelines

September 3, 2023

The hair-raising series will draw you in, right away

Parallel  timelines


would like to pose a question: Do you ever pass by an unknown place and get hit with the feeling of déjà vu or the sudden feeling that time and space are merging into each other and becoming hazy?

She wakes up each night at the same time. It is 3:33am on the dot. She looks up what 3:33am means and her insomnia kicks in.

She then remembers events, times and places but none of it really happened; or did it? Is it just her imagination? Is there really a limit to our imagination as humans? They call people like her ‘crazy.’ Do you think she is?

Welcome to the life of Lucy Chambers. Viewers are quick to analyse and blame her circadian rhythms or label her as slightly insomniac but she is just one pillar of the three who make up this ‘crazy’ family.

Jessica Raine comes forth in the role of a child protection agent who diligently cares for other people’s children as her own but also appears as a troubled mother whose child fails to replicate human emotions and feelings, leaving her marriage in a shambles.

Lucy’s mother, diagnosed with schizophrenia, sits talking to herself and having hallucinations. These are regular symptoms and signs of the psychotic disorder but random coincidences indicate that her disorder is maybe something else. She predicts stuff that is about to happen, like the answer to gaming shows that are yet to be aired.

The third pillar is Isaac. The child is oddly emotionless, incapable of feeling sadness, pain, grief, happiness and love. Above all, he lacks humanity. Despite her continuous efforts to find a crack to get to Isaac’s soul and to understand him, Lucy feels as if she’s failing as a mother.

It would be a tragic oversight if the acting skills of young Benjamin Chivers go unaddressed. If anyone keeps the audience hooked to the series, it is the development of this character. From an isolated, socially withdrawn and indifferent-to-reality child to the rare tiny smile Isaac would flash to Ravi and his mother.

The intensity of Isaac’s emotionlessness seems to penetrate your bones when he stares at empty walls and gives expressions of emptiness; the deafening silence in the wake of bullying from classmates and abuse from his father and the constant bone-chilling appearances out of thin air in the middle of the night his eyes like abysses staring back into yours.

DI Ravi Dhillon, afraid of blood, is a highly skilled detective and a charismatic, friendly, humble and down-to-earth man who suddenly gets knotted up in serial murders after he stumbles upon the lair of the murderer that screams the question ‘Where is Lucy Chambers?’ and ‘who is Isaac?’

The Amazon Prime production labelled as a British thriller comes across as much more. The wide variety of themes includes crime, horror, psychological elements - like insomnia, social withdrawal and suicide ideation - and supernatural events. Somehow, the writer, Tom Moran, has been able to integrate the main genres and subthemes in six hour-long episodes.

As young blood in the police, he steps up to motivate his colleagues and pressure them into taking the job seriously and getting to the bottom of the murders instead of debating what the red box and the green box of files indicate. His partner, DS Nick Holness, tags along to dip his fingers in the case as well.

The show centres around Lucy and Ravi, who work together to track down a string of horrendous murders with no clear motive, no clear victim type and the perpetrator who leaves no marks. Only instinct and Lucy’s nightmares and visions guide them.

Here is a mother with a psychiatric history strangely linked to a series of murders that she has memories of. But did she do it, is the main question. Or were they done by her imperturbable son? Perhaps her mother, who can foresee the future and has the righteous tendency to fix problems before they occur? The show challenges the ethical and moral parts of the brain, as rules are broken, SOPs are disregarded and informal actions are taken behind the authorities’ backs.

The Amazon Prime production labelled as a British thriller comes across as much more. The wide variety of themes includes crime, horror, psychological elements - like insomnia, social withdrawal and suicide ideation - and supernatural events. Yet, somehow, the writer, Tom Moran, is able to integrate the main genres and the subthemes in six hour-long episodes.

The beauty of the series lies in the fact that the viewer is dragged out into the plot. It seems as if time is dilating as one starts to get immersed in the story and loses track of time. It feels as if ages have passed. Given the short span, the show is well-rounded and leaves no loose ends.

A second interesting facet of the show is the coherence of multiple English accents that sort of give the characters their own personalities and distinguish them from one another. This can be better understood from the series itself but it shows how each character has idiosyncratic and distinct backgrounds yet they can form deep professional bonds to solve the murders together.

The series has not only exceptional acting where the actors go all out to deliver what captivates the audience. The sombre and eerie graphics and sounds with the slightly bluish-grey tones and hues keep the viewers on edge.

The mixture of different types of shots from wide angle, to medium shots and over-the-shoulder shots, close-ups and extreme close-ups, with bare minimum background music and car karaoke sessions along with natural sounds of crushing gravel, cooking, laughing, sighing and crying keep the series as close to reality as possible and provide an immersive experience.

Death is just punctuation.”

Death is the end for most of us. Honestly, the show should have a red flag and viewer discretion should be advised. It’ll leave you questioning what you just watched and maybe for a day or two, leave your views of the world in a distraught state, fading the lines between fiction and reality. Nonetheless, the series The Devil’s Hour is a must-watch for fans of crime and supernatural genres.

The writer is an undergraduate student of psychology at FC College

Parallel timelines