If "Part One" was setup and intrigue, and "Part Two" was aftermath and reaction, "Part Three" should have deepened the mystery in preparation for the finale. It didn't quite achieve that, as the story's annoyingly cagey about revealing much about the circumstances behind Alvo's murder, which is beginning to make me suspect the answers will be a disappointment. "Part Three" leaned on the show's farcical side (a corpse was accidentally dropped overboard as a party-boat playing Aqua's "Barbie Girl" sailed past with women flashing their breasts; a short, angry gangster was lowered into a well for safe-keeping), although sometimes the comedy felt forced and witless (like pondering the PC term for a midget), and I was annoyed by the stupidity of detective Maria (Maria Botto) this week, who could have solved the case by staking out the villa and following her four suspect's movements.
The disposal of Alvo's putrefying body was again the driving force of the plot, with the boys convinced that chopping off their dead mate's hands and dumping him on Jesus' stolen yacht will make the cops think he was killed by the Serbian Mafia in "a drug deal gone bad", as Maria believes the Mafia were behind Jesus' own murder. I'm disappointed Mad Dogs didn't widen its scope here, or put the gang on the offensive, as they're still floundering around with no idea what they're caught up in. Why was Alvo shot dead? Are the Serbian Mafia involved? Did the Mafia kill Jesus? If so, why? And why are the four people who witnessed Alvo's hit being kept alive?
It was also a real shame that Maria's role was reduced to a few brief scenes here, as she was a wonderfully peculiar screen presence in "Part Two". The fact it was revealed she has the gang's video of their trip on Jesus yacht made for a good cliffhanger last week, but that didn't impact this episode's events in the slightest. Why doesn't she arrest them? And, as I said, she'd have cracked the case by simply following them around, as they rarely leave the villa without carrying a dead body or drug money.
Tiny Blair (sans mask) also returned to antagonize the gang and demand they tell him where Jesus' yacht is, in broken English, but why didn't he interrogate them after shooting Alvo? And as this week's cliffhanger involved Tiny Blair being found dead in the villa's deep freezer, with a note saying "we told you not to go to the police", the whole thing is a real puzzle.
Overall, "Part Three" was the weakest installment of Mad Dogs yet, which I wouldn't have expected from a penultimate episode. Still, there was a stronger emphasis on the characters than "Part Two", with nerves beginning to shred. In particular, Rick (Marc Warren) started to annoy everyone by openly discussed Quinn's (Philip Glenister) failures and the £5,000 he's still owed by Baxter (John Simm). Quinn was also in a reflective mood, admitting he wishes he never had children because of what it did to his marriage ("... as soon as you have that kid, the love that you had for each other is consigned to history") and pontificating about how people don't control their destinies these days. Some great moments from a great cast, and I'm eager to see how writer Cris Cole draws everything together for next week's finale. I just hope the mystery isn't revealed to be something rather basic, hence why there's been so much weirdness to throw us off the scent.
written by Cris Cole / directed by Adrian Shergold / 24 February 2011 / Sky1/HD