Without a doubt, The Straits entered into uncharted territories of compelling Australian drama, not frequently seen on the small screen.
After discovering Harry’s (Brian Cox) infidelity with Natasha (Rachael Blake) and fathering her son, Kitty (Rena Owen) escapes back to the Island and finds Gary (Firass Dirani) shaking up with sixteen-year-old Bridget (Tasia Zalar). Her feelings are shaky at best, and seeing Gary with a girl twelve years his junior only shakes her up more. However, this time it is different for Gary. Firass Dirani bypasses the humour displayed in previous episodes to be very serious in a very serious moment for his character. Rena Owen is, as always, spectacularly beautiful and enchantingly soulful.
Despite his best attempts to get Noel (Aaron Fa’aoso) out of prison, Harry is forced to severe his ties with Natasha in order to win Kitty back, thus leaving Noel locked up. Last week’s cliffhanger ending left Noel stabbed multiple times, leaving the viewers unsure of the likelihood of his return for the next episode. A simply stumble along with a joke explained the stabbing away, deflecting a chance for more episodic drama. Perhaps the decision was made to bypass this storyline as enough time has already been spent in hospitals. It did, however, feel like a wasted opportunity and an inconsistent effect in the narrative chain of events.
Egos flared when the domineering Harry tells Lola (Emma Lung) to pack her bags and leave. The ever stubborn and always conniving Lola literally pushes Harry too far when he goes flying down the staircase. With Harry unconscious, Lola panics. It is later revealed by Sissi’s (Suzannah Bayes-Morton)security cameras that Lola then tried to suffocate Harry with a cushion, only to be interrupted by Sissi. The decision is made to show the footage to Marou (Jim Bani), who has an uncharacteristic burst of anger that is scary and dangerous to all those around him.
Emma Lung and Jim Bani completely own this episode, with absolutely brilliant performances that already demand early AACTA recognition. Credit should be paid to director Peter Andrikidis for his gripping direction and Nick Parsons for his stirring words, especially evident in Sissi’s touching speech/eulogy at Paddy’s wake.
Explosively compelling, The Straits is not-to-be-missed Australian television that continually raises the bar with each episode. With only two episodes left, it is expected that viewers will be suspended even further from the edge of their seats as the series draws to a close.
The Straits screens on Thursdays at 8.30pm on ABC1. It also screens at 10.30pm on ABC2 and on iView. Click here to view other episode reviews.