Despite a few story issues, a promising first episode of the new series.
Our Girl burst back onto our screens this Tuesday with the first instalment of the Nigeria, Belize, and Bangladesh tour. The successful show fronted by Michelle Keegan (who plays army medic Georgie Lane) is back for its fourth series. The show has proven to be a runaway success for the BBC and series creator Tony Grounds, with the explosive finale of the Nepal Tour garnering widespread praise amongst fans of the show.
This first episode of the new storyline had to deliver upon high expectations, following the unexpected death of fan favourite Elvis (Luke Pasqualino) during the finale of series three. You would therefore expect Tuesday’s episode to have been unsparingly dramatic. However, Grounds wisely took a more measured approach towards the episode. The episode, which is based six months after the death of Georgie’s fiancée Elvis, sees Georgie returning to work alongside her colleagues in Nigeria, to combat the threat posed by the militant organization ‘Boko Harem’. In choosing to focus on Boko Harem, Grounds has shone a light upon a politically fraught, and yet often neglected issue. There were several references throughout the episode to girls and women kidnapped in Nigeria being abandoned to their fate, and the choice to focus upon this is one to be applauded.
Grounds’ measured approach towards the episode meant that it was slow to build, focusing instead upon character development. In particular, the more nuanced approach leant depth to Georgie’s grief following the traumatic death of her fiancée. Keegan plays this well, and the viewer gets a real sense of the numbness which her character feels, throwing herself into her career in order to cope with it. However, this is spoilt somewhat by the cliff-hanger with which the episode culminated. Georgie is kidnapped by Boko Harem, somewhat ironically, whilst attempting to discover the whereabouts of other kidnapped girls. Although the twist itself is not badly-executed, and is a very real danger for those working in Nigeria, it is somewhat ridiculous to think that this is the second time that Georgie has been kidnapped, with the first time being in Series Two. You struggle to imagine how Georgie’s colleagues would want to continue working alongside her, given her obvious kidnap value. That being said, Our Girl is a prime time drama, and needs to be high-octane in order to attract viewers. In the process, plausibility has been sacrificed, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Plausibility after all is often a very boring truth.
Since the first series Our Girl has evolved from a gritty one-off drama, striving to portray the truth about what it was like to be a female in the British army, to the big budget production that is now hitting our screens. Yet, character development is still key, as Tuesday’s episode demonstrated. Not only was there a focus upon Georgie, but the supporting cast were also allowed space within the episode. Simon Lennon, who plays Private ‘Brains’, does well to portray the feelings of betrayal you can have when your parents divorce – even in adulthood. This is handled delicately, with a care not to overshadow the main storylines.
Overall, this first episode of the new series of Our Girl is successful. There is some good acting, and the beginnings of some promising storylines, which will surely develop into a dramatic series. Whilst the episode borders upon implausibility, this is to be expected for a show which has come to prize drama above everything else.
Our Girl Series 4 continues next Tuesday on BBC One. All previous episodes can be viewed on BBC iPlayer.