REVIEW: Republic of Doyle - "High School Confidential"
I have to say, this week’s Republic of Doyle was another pleasant surprise. After a better-than-average Valentine’s-themed episode last week, Doyle kept its momentum in Episode 7. “High School Confidential” filled out some of Jake’s backstory by introducing us to a couple of characters from Jake’s teenage years, and implicated them in a tangle of failed dreams, money troubles and jealousy.
This was all done in the same lighthearted spirit that makes Doyle an entertaining, if inconsistent, show. Situations as diverse as narcolepsy, adrenaline overdose and a suggested threesome fuelled some very funny scenes in this episode. Read on for my full review of “High School Confidential”, including my ranking out of four stars!
The episode opens with what looks like an open-and-shut case for the Doyles. Clyde Cowley, a former high school enemy of Jake, is falsifying a claim of worker’s compensation. As Jake and Malachy get deeper into the case, they find out Clyde (Luke Kirby) has fallen from the glory he enjoyed in high school: he’s lost his job, his house, his wife and is in debt up to his ears with a local loan shark.
As much as Jake wants to bask in the schadenfreude from seeing his high-school tormentor on the outs, he and Malachy decide to help Clyde when they discover he might have been scammed.
What really makes this episode work is the shambling, strangely mercurial performance by Luke Kirby as Clyde. (Wow - I never thought I’d use the word “mercurial” in reference to Doyle.) The Doyles discover that Clyde is narcoleptic, meaning he falls instantly asleep whenever he’s stressed. This causes a series of funny moments where Clyde goes out cold in the middle of an exciting encounter.
The supporting cast was stronger in this episode than much of Season 3 – Kevin Jubinville was slimy as Vallis, the banker who pulls the scam on Clyde, and Natalie Brown had some believable scenes as Jessica, the former high-school hottie who hooked up with Clyde and can barely remember Jake.
By contrast, some of the staging in this episode didn’t quite connect. There’s a scene where Jake and Clyde hide in Jessica’s closet when she comes in to change outfits. The woman is standing inches from Jake and Clyde and she doesn’t notice a thing. If it were me, I'd be a little more aware of my surroundings.
Then there's the “bank robbery” that Jake accidently participates in – Jake’s waving a gun around, terrifying the customers and staff, and he never thinks to drop the weapon. While both of these scenes led to some laughs, it made it hard to suspend my disbelief – just when the episode was doing so well in that department.
I liked that the writers decided to take Clyde’s side in this story. It would have been too easy to make him into a cartoonish villain who returns from Jake’s past to annoy him again. And the plot involving Clyde’s conniving ex-wife Jessica and the sleazy loan shark Chili Power (Ron Lea) was actually plausible – far more so than the all-too-frequent murder mysteries of past episodes.
Quelle surprise – my favourite bits of “High School Confidential” were Des’ scenes. The sight of Mark O’Brien suggesting, “Why don’t we have a three-way?” was the perfect way to break the tension after a cringe-inducing sequence between Tinny and Chandra. Later in the episode, the scene where Des is jumping around after overdosing on adrenaline from an EpiPen was fantastic. If there was ever a scene from Doyle to make into an animated .gif, it’s that one.
As entertaining as Episode 7 was, there wasn’t any sign of the truly top-notch writing that I know Doyle is capable of. It still feels like the series is biding its time until the end of the season. Oh well – all the more reason to look forward to the finale, when Republic of Doyle really has to impress to win itself a fourth season. “High School Confidential” gets three stars out of four.
What did you think of Episode 7 of Republic of Doyle Season 3? Are you still following the show, or will you tune back in when the stakes rise for the finale? What’s your favourite moment of the season so far? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. If you’re behind on my Doyle reviews, catch up by following these links: