Patrick Melrose: At Last
June 10, 2018 3:47 AM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Patrick confronts the past on the day of his mother's memorial service. Now truly clean and sober, he attempts to solve the puzzle of his mother’s complicity in his father’s abuse, as well as answer his father’s question, ‘What will you do with your life?’ Limited Series Finale
posted by myotahapea (3 comments total)

So myotahapea, what did you make of the series?
posted by jouke at 6:55 AM on June 10

Sorry, jouke — it took me a few days to get to watching this final episode. Patrick's issues with his mum are hitting pretty close to home for me, particularly right now, and I've been sitting with this finale for a few days.

I found all the performances to be excellent; particularly the way even the most hateful of the bunch (David and Nicholas being the two most obvious examples) were kept from being one-dimensional; it gave a good demonstration of that Larkin poem quoted in E1 (They fuck you up, your mum and dad ...). It's clear that David suffered at the hands of his father, and the resulting damage caused him to inflict similar suffering on Patrick. That we can see Patrick beginning to inflict similar hurts on his own children is horrifying and tragic, and Cumberbatch played it subtly enough that we can both understand how his experiences shaped the thinking that nudges him in this direction, how they can make those actions seem justified and acceptable, but also see how he is aware he's perpetuating those wrongs visited upon him.

I have a harder time with Eleanor; the fact she routinely ignored her son's obvious unhappiness and consistently abandoned him in favour of any available distraction was odious, and Jennifer Jason Leigh did a good job of inhabiting a damaged and unlikable character. I wanted to reach into the screen and throttle her, though, when Patrick finally summoned the strength to tell her how his father, her husband, harmed him and she made it all about herself. (Then, with that knowledge, expecting a staggering amount of emotional labour after disinheriting him in favour of someone who makes her feel less bad about herself.) But I also appreciated how true to her character that would be — self-absorbed to the end.

Playing Patrick Melrose was apparently one of Benedict Cumberbatch's life goals, and after watching this I'm having a hard time imagining someone who could've done a better job bringing the character on to life. His incredible range was put to impressive use, as was his physicality; his movements and gestures bring another layer of depth to his performances, and even just watching his hands, shaky and twitching with emotion or withdrawal, or languidly flinging a cigarette out a car window, elevated the sense of the character and his moods.

That Johnny's a good egg. I want to see more of what Prasanna Puwanarajah's done now.

The final scene of young Patrick, standing up to his father — I found myself wondering if that was something that actually happened or if it was adult Patrick looking back and wishing he had said that at the time. Either way, it was brilliant. (Clearly I'm due for a re-read of the novels.)

I don't think saying I 'enjoyed' the series is quite right, though I quite liked it, and felt it was well-executed and did a good job of handling and condensing difficult subject matter. I found it to be a fairly excellent adaptation, and would recommend it to others.
posted by myotahapea at 2:15 PM on June 15

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