This review contains spoilers, consider yourself warned.
Indian Summers was back this Sunday night on Masterpiece Theatre. This installment was even worse than the last one. This show has become so mysterious that it is completely opaque now. In addition to the attempt murder of last week this week has an actual murder made to look like a suicide attempt. There is drama, there is sex, there is violence, there is too much going on to keep things straight.
Unfortunately, none of the characters are particularly interesting. I suppose we are meant to sympathize with the simpering Alice Whelan, because she has developed some sympathies towards Aafrin Dalal, the guy who got shot last week. She seems rather clueless. First she abandons her guests who are especially there to pay her a visit to burst unannounced into Dalal’s house. She then blurts out about Aafrin’s injuries which the family had managed to keep a secret from their ailing father (Roshan Seth).
The other goody goody British character, missionary Doug is rather unsympathetic too, last week he was flirting with a co-worker and this week he was emotionally unavailable to his wife, a meddling busybody, who is a piece of work. Dougie’s unpleasant wife Sarah, is also a budding detective, who is trying to get to the bottom of the mystery of Alice’s missing husband. She wrote a letter to her peeps in London asking them to investigate. Truth be told, I cannot muster an ounce of sympathy for any of the British characters in this show. It 1932 and way past the the time for British Crown to let go of India. In fact it should have been done after the end of World War I, instead the British presence is becoming an increasingly desperate attempt to keep the restive Indians under the colonial heel.
Obviously, the series makers want us to root for Ralph Whelan against our own better judgment, since he is so pretty. I couldn’t care less, they all seem terribly pompous and even more unforgivable for a TV show, unbearably dull. Even the scheming Cynthia was torpid in this episode, perhaps she had a hangover from the party in episode 1. The Indian characters aren’t all that interesting either, so far I only like Dalal’s youngest sister, the one in the school uniform.
The focus of the action or rather inaction was the assassin who has been identified now as Chandru Mohan of the Madras Presidency, who seems to have known Whelan, who called him rakshas (demon). As an aside, Channel 4 better hire Hindi dialect coaches ASAP because their Indian characters cannot pronounce simple Hindi words like rakshas and zindabad correctly. Kaiser, the mustachioed main minion of Cynthia Coffin helped forge a fake Congress membership letter for Mr. Mohan, who was found dead at the end of the episode but not before he got to beat up Ralph Whelan into a bloody pulp. Why would an Indian have the name Kaiser, or has Cynthia renamed him? Equally mysterious, American houseguest throwing herself at Ralph Whelan again at the end of the episode. Why? Is this so called heiress without any prospects that she has to bait cold fish Whelan in sweltering India of all places. Why is she even there?
Then there was also an Indian journalist a certain Mr. Khan who was trying to figure out the reason behind the attempted murder. Despite the obvious photo-op at Aafrin’s bed, Mr. Khan’s seems to have figured out that the shooting was more a case of personal vendetta and not a political act.
In other happenings, Adam the Anglo-Indian child who was rescued by Dougie and Leena was trying to stab himself with a thin blade, what’s his sad story, I wonder. Why did Aafrin’s girlfriend Sita and his sister Sooni had a rendezvous in the cemetery? I have no idea. Its somewhat understandable that the two lovebirds of different religions have to meet under the cover of darkness and in secret, but why these women?
Anyway I am fast losing interest in this show and its convoluted happenings. I am going to give it one more chance, mainly because I am interested in the history of the time period and second also because reviewers who have seen the entire season in the UK say that the show gets better. We shall see.
In case you missed it, review for the first episode is here.
This used to be the Viceroy’s Lodge in Shimla (From Victorian Web)