The first part of 'Southcliffe' may have been a relative slow burn, considering its central shooting spree plot device, but 'Light Falls' firmly immersed us into its bleak world. Our focus was not on Stephen Morton's quiet rampage, leaving 15 dead and 20 injured, but on the unsuspecting families of the victims. Some SPOILERS follow.
The pre-episode disclaimer of upsetting scenes suggested that events were about to take a considerably more serious turn compared to 'Hollow Shore' - a prophecy that was fulfilled almost immediately as we witness Stephen (Sean Harris) breaking into homes and shooting his victims. It is the aftermath of such events that 'Southcliffe' seeks to explore however.
We are properly introduced to the family of carer Shirley Henderson, whom Stephen (suggestively) sought out before his killing began - with loving husband Eddie Marsan (who also surprisingly played a 'nice guy' in 'The World's End') and their daughter, Kaya Scodelario. But 'Light Falls' delves deepest into pub landlord Paul's life.
Again touching slightly on the grief theme as per part one, Paul (Anatol Yusef) attends the funeral of his father, only to leave soon after and meet up with a young lover at a gig. His actions make it difficult to sympathise with what happens later in the episode - although the manner in which the character learns of the events transpiring is handled magnificently.
Sean Durkin's direction again promoted the sense of bleakness and the stark reality of the situation, perhaps best exhibited in the near-greyscale establishing shots and the lack of incidental music, making events all the more haunted. The editing was arguably even more impressive, bringing together the non-linear narrative with surprisingly seamless transitions between flashbacks and scenes in the present.
Despite the headline-grabbing central plot material, the art of 'Southcliffe' appears to be in its subtlety - David's (Rory Kinnear) stare into the distance as he briefly recalled the troubles of his childhood in Southcliffe being a chief example. The finest moment of 'Light Falls' may well go to a more showy scene as Shirley Henderson frantically calls her daughter. By limiting these emotionally fraught moments, Durkin rewards us all the more greatly when they finally appear.
'Southcliffe' continues on Channel 4 on Sunday. Catch up on 4oD.