Tuesday 21 October 2014

**Spoiler Alert** Darragh McManus reviews episode three of 'Amber' as viewer opinions turn

Published 21/01/2014 | 22:30

A scene from the new RTE drama 'Amber'. Photo: Patrick Redmond

A slower episode of Amber, third of four, but it held the attention nonetheless.

Tonight focused on Charlie (Dan Li), an illegal Chinese immigrant working in a dodgy phone-shop.

Again returning to Day 1 in the opening scenes, we discovered how Charlie came to possess Amber’s phone: robbed from her by Squeak, the mouthy Mountjoy prisoner slagging off Terence last night.

Charlie used it to call his mother in China, unaware of the phone’s significance. Eventually realising the truth, guilty and concerned over Amber, he dropped it into Ben’s office.

A search volunteer accidentally knocked the phone under a pile of envelopes; it was unthinkingly placed into a drawer by another; finally, Ben’s secretary gave it to a child, who lost it on the street.

This explained why someone answered the phone to Sarah, months after the disappearance, and why it was now dead. It didn’t, though, explain how the prisoner overheard by Terence knew about the mermaid painting.

And was that our bogeyman, the guy with the earphones staring at Amber as she missed her Luas stop, presumably meaning she’d have to get off at the next one and wait around for a tram back?

Two themes ran throughout tonight’s show. First, the potentially huge consequences of small details, commonplace objects, misinterpretations and miscommunications, and above all, blind chance. If only that guy hadn’t knocked the phone. If only well-meaning Charlie had handed it directly to Ben. If only, if only.

The second was more disturbing, more unpalatable. It’s the creeping worry that there’ll be no definite, unambiguous ending. Not because the writers can’t figure out how to square a narrative circle, but because that’s often how these things go. People remain missing, answers aren’t found, the mystery endures forever.

As a human being, never mind a TV viewer, you want some kind of resolution, even if it’s bad. You want, and need, to know what happened. But the fear persists that, as in real-life, there may be none.

The episode received negative reaction online as viewers took to social media to vent about the episode and the pace of the show.

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