Having followed Patrick (Benedict Cumberbatch) through the throes of addiction then back to his abusive childhood, we meet him in the early stages of sobriety. Tiny, quotidian actions are freighted with uncertainty. Sugar stirred into coffee is white powder ready to be cut into lines. Voices from the TV trigger bouts of paranoia.
While still coming to terms with the simplest daily tasks, Patrick braves a glittering society party where champagne and snide snobbery flow in equal measure.
Countess Bridget (Holliday Grainger) has pulled out all the stops to make her husband’s party fit for royalty. She’s barely recognisable as the pouty plucky young Bridget Watson-Scott we saw in episode two, wheedling her way into high society on the arm of Patrick’s fusty old godfather.
Twenty years later and she has married up – gaining a title and losing her spirit. She’s rendered rigid with the pressure to behave ‘correctly’, repressing her own emotions and channeling everything into impressing guest of honour Princess Margaret.
It’s an incisive depiction of class – the cruel currencies by which we’re measured, the elegant accouterments and the utter disregard for feelings.
Beneath the glittering gossipy glamour, the whole evening is shot through with a strand of viciousness, which recalls Patrick’s childhood. Class looms large, an oppressive uncompromising authority. Just as David Melrose delighted in bullying guests, the Princess takes a thrill in using her power to demean and discomfort. Children are still supposed to be ignored. And marriages continue to crumble.
In his sharpened state of sobriety, the adult Patrick can’t ignore the parallels. Nor can he escape his the memories. The moment when he finally confronts the trauma is electrifying, with another devastating yet meticulously measured performance from Benedict Cumberbatch.
|What||Patrick Melrose, episode 3 review|
|Where||Sky Atlantic | MAP|
27 May 18 – 30 Sep 18, 9:00 PM – 10:00 PM