REVIEW: Republic of Doyle - "Under Pressure"
There we have it, b’ys. Last night’s season three finale for Republic of Doyle has come and gone. As I’ve expected since early in the season, the writers kicked themselves into high gear for this episode, delivering a story with just the right blend of drama and jokes. If nothing else, “Under Pressure” fits perfectly into Doyle’s chosen genre, the action/comedy.
Season finales are the most scrutinized of television episodes because they signal where the show is heading. More so than any mid-season episode, they leave us wondering what will happen next. Even though a rushed ending hurts the dramatic punch of the final scenes, “Under Pressure” doesn’t slouch in its duty to leave us with a solid cliffhanger. It shows that the creators of Republic of Doyle are more than confident the series will be renewed for a fourth season.
The story picks up right where it left off last episode, with Malachy on the run, suspected for the murder of a former informant he used as a police officer. The Doyles band together to find evidence to prove Mal innocent, while Mal’s former trainee Sonja tries to pull off a heist of gold bullion by pinning the theft and the murders on Mal.
As Doyle plots go, this was one of the better ones. It was refreshing to see the Doyles face off against a stronger female villain, though I wasn’t totally convinced by Jessica Steen’s performance as Sonja. When she spoke about her huge debts, gambling and drug use, she sounded more like she was rattling off a arbitrary list than confessing to past mistakes. The best villains allow us to sympathize with their motivations, and in Sonja’s case, her backstory left me cold.
The writers did a good job of striking a balance between funny and serious. The key was the use of Des’ character – it never felt like he had been artificially thrown into a scene to lighten it up. It struck me that the writers have finally realized that Des should belong in his scenes, not just pop up for the sake of comic relief. Des has undergone some of the best character development this season, and it's encouraging to see it continue here.
“Under Pressure” is a good example of how well Republic of Doyle can work when it cuts down on all the diverse subplots the writers love to include. By my count, we only dealt with the one side-story this time: Tinny’s quest to find out who her father is. With most of the characters committed to a single case, the episode felt tight and focused.
Frankly, I’m surprised that we didn’t see more of a romantic subplot in the finale. Past season closers have pushed Jake and Leslie together and then pulled them apart on some pretense or another – that old “will-they-or-won’t-they” routine. To have Leslie barely speak to Jake in this episode tells me that the creators believe they’ll get another season order from the CBC, during which they’ll (hopefully) reward viewers for cheering on the Jake-Leslie pairing since the series premiere.
My major problem with “Under Pressure” came from the pacing of the final few minutes. Starting with Jake’s standoff with Sonja, the writers rush through the resolution of the main story, cram in an answer to Tinny’s question about her father, and drop in a violent cliffhanger. It felt so slap-dash I found myself wondering if CBC should have allowed an extra ten minutes in the runtime.
After the steady pacing of the episode up to this point, it was annoying to see the episode fall apart so quickly. We don’t even get a close enough look at the picture of Tinny’s father to be impressed by his identity. I’m guessing he’s the Paul Gross character from the Season 2 finale, but that lightning-round ending made it hard to be sure, and it dulled the impact of the scene.
I’m left with the feeling that the writers have some confirmation from the CBC that they’ll get renewed for Season 4 – despite the inbound $115 million in cuts to the network announced last week. Either that, or the writers are being tremendously over-confident, and we’ll never find out what happens with the Doyle gang. As conflicted as I’ve been about the show this season, I hope it’s the former. “Under Pressure” gets three stars out of four.
What did you think of the finale for Republic of Doyle Season 3? Like/dislike? Do you think the show will get renewed? How did you feel about that cliffhanger? Share your thoughts in the comments section! If you missed any of my other Doyle reviews this season, catch up by following the links below: