REVIEW: Republic of Doyle - "Dead Man Talking"


There’s an expression that comes over Malachy Doyle’s face every so often on Republic of Doyle. It’s a look of bemusement, one that suggests Malachy is silently wondering how the other characters could possibly behave the way they are. I shared in that bewilderment more than once during last night’s episode of Republic of Doyle, as I tried to make sense of the confusing main story in “Dead Man Talking”.

Fortunately, the episode wasn’t nearly as tedious as last week’s installment, but it felt like a good story was sacrificed to deliver a handful of funny sketches. All the Des Courtney one-liners in the world couldn’t mask the puzzling dialogue or limp characters in “Dead Man Talking”, and I’m afraid it’s starting to become a season trend.

The episode opens (inexplicably, I might add) with an awkward scene between Des, Tinny, Rose and Kathleen that prods the Des Courtney love triangle forward and sets up a little complication for Rose later in the episode involving Kathleen’s purse. We then move into what should be the main intrigue of the episode, where we learn that a former client of the Doyles is dead (or not) and various characters connected to him are either after his money or his head (it changes too often to be sure).

All this was clumsily plotted to the point that I didn’t have a precise idea of which guest characters were which until halfway through. In my head, I kept referring to one of the women (played by Sarah Power) as “the Katy Perry lookalike”, because it took me a while to figure out that she's "crazy Crystal", the sister of the not-so-dead client Carl Mayer (Shawn Doyle).

That confusion only set me back when I was trying to keep track of Carl’s wife Olive (Mylène Dinh-Robic) and his business partner, Erin (Kate Hewlett). Not that knowing their names or roles would have helped all that much, as some of the scripting was so strange it became downright distracting.

For example, in the scene where the Doyles question the wife for the first time, they just wander into the house without announcing themselves. When the interview is done, she asks them to “lock the door on their way out”. I know that we Newfoundlanders are meant to be a trusting bunch, but scenes like that don’t ring true for me - it immediately takes me out of the experience.

As always, there were some very funny encounters that brightened up the episode. The scenes between Carl and Des had me smiling, as did the scene between Rose, Jake, Malachy and Leslie in the police station. Those few bits were genuinely well-written, so it’s too bad we had to sit through the disappointing filler to get to them.

What really bothered me was the (supposedly) climactic encounter between the major players. By the time we arrived at the inevitable standoff, it was impossible to have any investment in the characters. As a result, the revelation of the perpetrator didn’t come as a surprise, and the resolution of the situation carried no weight. That’s unfortunate, because a detective show like Republic of Doyle should deliver thrills in the cracking of the case, even if it does have an element of comedy.

What’s more, the writers seem reluctant to push forward with Kathleen’s backstory or the Des-Tinny-Chandra triangle. “Dead Man Talking” took stabs at both, and neither captured my interest. Due to some hazy plan for the season arc, the characters are stuck in place.

After multiple episodes featuring Kathleen and Tinny, all we know is that Kathleen is in trouble, and Des can’t decide between the two women who like him. What we need is a pair of episodes that deal with each story separately, so we can progress. Cramming little references to the problems into each installment simply feels like the writers are stalling, waiting until the season finale to do something big.

“Dead Man Talking” was better than last week’s “Rusted Steele”, but its confusing story and unremarkable guest characters made the installment only worth watching for the jokes. That leaves it with two and half stars out of four.

What did you think of the fifth episode of Republic of Doyle Season Three? Were the funny scenes I mentioned worth sitting through the rest of the episode? What did you like or dislike about the main story? What does that ending mean for Des Courtney? Share your thoughts in the comments section. If you’d like to catch up on the rest of my Doyle reviews, follow the links below!


Episode 1: “Streets of St. Johns” | Episode 2: “Head Over Heels”

Episode 3: “Hot Package”  | Episode 4: "Rusted Steele"