Much like The Replacement – the BBC1 thriller earlier this year that had a notoriously confusing ending – Paula was a drama that started out with great promise but ended up tying itself in far-fetched and nonsensical knots.
The first episode was compelling, we even wrote a review saying so. The second was rather odd – but still thrilling, and that scene where Mac finds Morgan locked in a cupboard in James's flat was certainly gripping. But tonight’s finale went completely west.
Here, we try to get to the bottom of what on earth was going on…
*** Spoilers ahead. Do not read on unless you have watched the third episode of Paula ***
1. What’s with the dog?!
Let’s begin with the baffling character addition to the final episode. A very cute, unassuming dog found itself plunged into Paula’s mess of a life – zipped up in a gym bag, presumably struggling to breathe, on her kitchen floor.
It was abandoned by a young boy who was being beaten up outside Paula’s house and then mysteriously vanished, leaving said dog behind. Paula adopted the pup almost without a moment’s hesitation, and it ended up DEAD in her hellish cellar at the end of the episode.
Literally why. Why did the boy leave the dog in her house? And why did Paula keep the dog instead of looking for its owner like a good, law-abiding citizen?
The only explanation we can come up with is that the poor hound was a mere plot device, and its death was used so that Paula could have another crap thing happen to her.
2. Why did Mac start hallucinating?
We all understand now, kind of, that James hallucinates the girl with the sewn up lips (and the banging in his boot, and the rattling doors...) because his younger sister died next to him when they were locked in a cupboard as children.
But why did Mac hallucinate a rattling cupboard door when he went to James’s childhood home to investigate all the “bad stuff” from his past? It doesn’t make sense. How could he have hallucinated what he never knew had happened?
3. Why did the hallucination girl even have her lips sewn up?
That’s not how she died! Is it just because it looks scarier? Does it represent all the words she can no longer speak? We're confused!
4. Why did Paula kill her brother?
One of the few shreds of sympathy we saw come from Paula – who, as you'll recall, claims not to have feelings – was her despair at her brother nearly getting burned to death in his garage. (We think this was James’s doing but there doesn’t seem to be a clear motive, except his hellbent desire to destroy Paula's life.)
But if Paula was so sad, why did she decide she had to suffocate him? Yes, he'd been given a minuscule chance of survival but surely the doctors could have managed a pain-free way to let him go, rather than facing the peril of Paula's pillow? Very strange behaviour indeed.
5. And how on earth did she get away with it?
Why wasn’t Paula immediately arrested? Her brother had been stable – yes, horrifyingly burnt but stable – before she entered the room. Then she suffocated him, screamed for the nurse to come in, didn’t make much effort to discard the pillow that was used as the murder weapon – and then she just walked out. Hmmm.
6. Why did Paula suddenly turn into a psycho – and how was she unbelievably sophisticated in setting up James’s air, water and food supply? Not to mention his waste drainage?
Still reeling from this a bit. So just after Paula found the dead dog in the basement, James crept up behind her out of the shadows. Obviously. They then shared this uncomfortably erotic moment where they kissed. And everyone was shouting at the TV like, “What the hell are ya doing woman?” But a-ha! It was not a kiss of passion – but a kiss of death.
Paula knocked James out by injecting him with some substance she stole from the vet. And then before you could say Jiminy Cricket, she had him buried alive in a coffin under her basement, equipped with air pockets, a drip feed, and a waste disposal system. I’m sorry but there is no way a secondary school teacher whose life is in total chaos knows how to do this. The whole thing felt reminiscent of The Replacement's hot-wiring airbag escape route (and not in a good way).
And what about the men concreting her basement? Didn't they at least enquire why they were burying a box and what might be inside it? Come on.
7. And the most pressing question of all: Why did Paula never turn the bloody lights on in her house?
Other than a power cut, we’ve got nothing.