Can this really be the last episode ever of 'The Thick Of It'? Judging by this series finale, there's still a lot more vitriol in the can waiting to be used.
Proverbially speaking, it was the morning after the Inquiry before, with both sides of Government reeling from the indiscretions and admissions of contempt that came out during the probe into Tickell-gate.
Malcolm prepares to bow out - quietly
"Things were said at that Inquiry, Teri..." Peter Mannion explained and, as DOSAC faced its first post-Inquiry test with police stations wilting under the weight of arrests, it became clear that everyone was still sulking... Mannion was furious with Phil, who was raging at Adam, and they were all blaming Teri... who was effectively "running parts of the country" while none of them spoke to each other. This would normally be when Glenn Cullen (James Smith) would quietly weigh in but, it being the last episode, Glenn was instead shipping out, stopping only to bestow a few home truths on each colleague in turn.
If it had been anyone else, this would have been a climax of Michael-Douglas-Falling-Down proportions, but with Glenn's mild manner and his recipients' chuckles, it sort of fell a bit flat and I thought this long-serving character deserved a more satisfactory send-off, although "Tweedletw*t and Tweedlepr*ck" definitely found their mark.
Glenn Cullen finally let fly on what he really thought of his colleagues
Meanwhile, Mannion's opponent Dan Miller grabbed the political advantage by turning up at a police station. "Why didn't I think of that?" asked Mannion. Because he didn't have the big guiding Machiavellian brain of Malcolm Tucker to turn his PR wheel, that's why, even while the latter was operating with one arm tied behind his back, or rather managing his own exit from political life with as much dignity as he could muster, after the small matter of perjury during the Inquiry.
And so, in a final reward to viewers who have patiently spent this series moving from one side of Government to the other, the storylines came together in a brilliant final melding. Because all of this hullabaloo meant that Malcolm Tucker, noble pariah of this parish, could not get arrested... quite literally.
Instead, one of Westminster's great magicians was reduced to scarpering around the back of Brentford Police Station, jumping in a cab, before his eventual arrest prompted his permanent departure from politics. "I want to say something," he told a baying press, before deciding, "It doesn't matter." And actor Peter Capaldi's silence was suitably moving after all that had come before - and it was the acting tour de force we've come to expect.
The same but different - Ollie (Chris Addison) and Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) in their final face-off
It was ok. By then, he'd said enough, with another brilliant Ollie-Malcolm two-way reflecting his inner turmoil, and reminding the young upstart why he will never be him... "You don't have to be Malcolm tucker to sit in that chair... You can't know Malcolm, because Malcolm is not here, he left the building years ago... This is a husk.. I'm going to leave the stage with my head held high. No friends, no memoirs. Well, f*** them" and, possibly the line of the series, "I'm laughing on the inside... which is ironic."
As Malcolm reflected on life beyond politics, Dan Miller washed his hands of the whole affair, Ollie greased his way into his new role as a mini-Malcolm, Stuart's chakras got their marching orders, and even Nicola Murray plotted her political comeback - bit difficult when the only person interested in speaking to her was her old friend Mr Chop - and a beleaguered DOSAC woke up to another crisis on its hands.
As Malcolm Tucker would say, it was "just another day at the f***-office". Can there really be no more?
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