Shattering conclusion that tears each character's life apart
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
In the final part of the sweeping war drama, Mike's son has signed up to join the army and follow in his father's footsteps. But the big man still has his heart set on a romance with doctor Aliyah, whose profession has been compromised by orders from the local mosque governing women doctors. Meanwhile, Danny's driven to dangerous measures to secure his contract to rebuild the hospital and when Hibbs finds himself caught in an ambush, it all builds to a shattering conclusion that will change all three men forever.
All the brilliance of the first two parts wouldn't be the sum of their parts without a fantastic conclusion, and Peter Bowker delivers his mightiest blow with the concluding part of his excellent Occupation series. All the suspense, emotion and drama build up to an ending that shatters the viewer's expectations and leaves you flabbergasted. Since the war began in 2003, it's consistently dominated the headlines (when the vacuous 'celebrity' headlines haven't) and various protesters and politicians alike have held their own conspiracy theories for what motivated it and the ethics of it and how evil Bush and Blair are...and here's a front line tale that you can just believe is how things could really operate there, though you pray you'd never have to go there and find out for yourself. The chaos and lawlessness is really brought to life, and in turn the futility of the war feels more real to the casual viewer. Occupation isn't based on a true story, it's just set in the course of true events and if things are as corrupt and hopeless as this, you can really see what all the fuss is about.
But what really drives it are the performances. Nesbitt really shines here, especially at the end as a man with grief and sorrow etched across his face, a man who's lost everything and who will find it hard to put meaning to anything again. Graham rounds off his solid portrayal through-out of the cocksure, immoral Danny with another powerful, emotive speech at the end on a par with his 'this is England' speech in, well, This is England, where he tries to justify himself by saying his actions in Basra are 'just the way to survive in a lawless land' and how being a soldier for his own reasons are better than being a soldier for a 'cause' he's not been made aware of. Brown shines as the younger soldier who's blossomed from a boy to a man in the shape of events and Anozie is solid till the end as the big shark in his and Danny's partnership.
I don't watch the biggest amount of telly, so I don't know if I'm missing a lot of really brilliant dramas, but I'd be blown away if stuff as powerful and well made as this was commonplace. That would seem to be the case if all this has won is a 'Best Sound' award from the National Television Awards, when the brilliant acting, fantastic script and gritty realism should have won it so much more. *****
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