THE DEEP (BBC) “To the Furthest Place” Review

The Deep (BBC)

When a research submarine inexplicably fails to surface, a successive expedition find themselves investigating in the BBCs new drama, THE DEEP. Episode 1 ‘To the Furthest Place’ begins 2000 feet under the Arctic Ocean, where the research submarine ‘Hermes’ is exploring hydrothermal vents. When the Hermes loses power, crew member Catherine, trapped in a one-man submersible, sends out a distress message.

When the next expedition to the area aboard the submarine ‘Orpheus’ is ordered to help find the black box recording from the Hermes, the crew find themselves running into similar difficulties. Trying to retrieve their own lost submersible, the submarine becomes wedged among the hydrothermal vents. While down there, desperately pondering ways to save their stranded crew member, Samson, they see a ‘man-made structure’ which repeatedly flashes bright light their way… And then a mysterious, gigantic mass – not unlike the one Catherine describes in her distress message – comes to the rescue.

Despite a textbook strong start, I still can’t help thinking that The Deep is a series better watched with friends who can distract you enough to keep the show interesting. I watched it alone, and found myself inching toward a game of Solitaire on more than one occasion. It’s not that nothing happens, more that nothing particularly interesting happens. We have seen all of this before in countless other series.

The mystery should be engrossing with its mysterious man-made structures and life saving masses that aren’t, as is suggested numerous times, shoals of sea creatures, but it falls flat. Maybe this is because the main revelations happen when Samson is endangered out in the submersible. Should we worry about his fate? Don’t be daft – he’s played by Goran Visnjic. They won’t kill an ER alum in the very first episode.

They will, of course, kill the whiny little girl who knows too much. Even if what she knows is completely obvious to everyone else, too. I have to admit to liking Maddy. I don’t think not-sinister-enough-Raymond killed her; other characters had nosebleeds too. Could it be the things outside affecting them?

We knew it was never going to end well for Maddy, but at least there was more chemistry between her and Vincent (probably my favourite character) in her super quick death scene than between Frances and Samson in the entire episode. That’s probably where my biggest problem with this episode lies so far: the affair.

There are few plot points in television that grip a viewer as much as a well written affair. Who are they cheating with? Will they get caught by their spouses? Will it ruin their careers? Is it thrilling? In this case: no. We know straight away who Samson is sleeping with (as does his wife, presumably), we know that relationships among colleagues are accepted (Catherine and Clem’s marriage, case in point), and it’s just kind of dull. It does make Frances risk the crew to save Samson but again, he was never going to die, so it was a wasted attempt at getting us to care for these characters.

I would also liked to have seen more from Clem. Why did he choose to go on this expedition? How does he feel about leaving his daughter behind? Is he the real Orpheus, hoping to – even figuratively – raise his dead wife up from the depths? James Nesbitt is a fantastic actor, I’m eager to see more emotion from him in future episodes.

And to end on a technical point: they have a moon pool that, apparently, defies logic. You would think that with the submarine getting tossed around and passing near to bubbling hydrothermal vents, the pressure changes would flood the chamber. Apparently not. The previews for next week’s episode show a lot of the Frances/Samson scenes in the chamber, so let’s see how that issue is addressed – if at all.

What did you think of The Deep? Any theories as to the origins and purposes of the mysterious man-made structure? And what was that mass?