Ever tried introducing a new pet kitten to your family cat you’ve had for years? Both of them are cautious at first, studying each other intently. Eventually it all blows up and they attack each other leading to absolute chaos. Unfortunately the similarities between this situation and The Replacement are uncanny.
Ellen (Morven Christie) is a talented architect who becomes pregnant with her first child, just as her project for a new library is given the green light. A junior architect Paula (Vicky McClure) is called in as maternity cover. Immediately, the striking and professional junior intimidates Ellen as she struggles to find a balance between her two “babies”. One being her library project, the other being her daughter – Lia. When Ellen witnesses her manager’s death she suspects Paula has been up to no good, however everyone else can’t help but wonder if her jealousy is clouding her judgement.
Credit where credit is due. The Replacement has loads of positives. The dynamics of the relationship between the protagonist and the antagonist is incredibly gripping. Paula’s passive aggressive comments and maternal condescendence niggle away at Ellen and the mysterious element of the “newbie” is exciting. Vicky McClure is the definition of “Ice Queen” and I can only see her being cast in more TV drama series in the near time future as a result of her performance.
I enjoyed Joe Ahearne’s writing in this series. The dialogue was sleek and worked effectively in building up the tension. Combined with the high definition close-up camera work and eye-catching cast, I certainly felt drawn into the story and genuinely felt intrigued by the intensity of the drama.
I also liked the underlying themes within the narrative. Workplace paranoia and the side affects of post-natal depression are interesting to consider and relatable to an economically active audience. One technique that Ahearne included which was effective was the blurring between the lines between the heroine and the villain. During the first two episodes I doubted Ellen’s judgement, and thought maybe she is the one in the wrong. It would have been an interesting plot twist. However my assumptions proved to be false. Eventually Paula does prove to be a cliché bereaving basket case and Ellen turned out to be right all along. However we still doubt the protagonist. Her emotion and unpredictability is interesting and dramatic.
The Replacement started off really promisingly. I loved the pilot episode, which established the main characters’ interests clearly and introduced the turning point early as Ellen becomes pregnant. By the end of the pilot, nine months has passed in a gripping hour.
Initially what I found refreshing about the series, was the pace and structure. The writer opted to squeeze the series into three episodes as opposed to the traditional six or eight episodes, which allows for great early cliff-hangers and exciting scenes. But ultimately this led to a messy and unrealistic conclusion, it felt like it had been rushed and crammed into a limited time.
Paula: abducts Lia, sows seeds of doubt in Ellen’s marriage, forces Ellen to take a load of sleeping pills and then traps her in a car. Ellen the architect manages to hotwire the airbags in the car and escape. She rushes to the library where she conveniently finds her daughter and then the police arrive with Paula. They then arrest Paula in front of her as they somehow managed to conclude that Paula was guilty of murder. It simply doesn’t make any sense. It wouldn’t happen. It was almost frustrating.
Overall I think that The Replacement is worth watching. It is a good series but the ending was disappointing. It was almost like it had been wrapped up too quickly. It could have been great.