8 questions we still have after the frankly ridiculous ending to Rellik
The BBC1 drama reached its climax with a dramatic but flawed series finale
Well, that's it. After six mind-bending episodes Rellik has concluded by linking Elaine's murderous spree with her childhood abuse at a psychiatric hospital. Flashbacks showed her witnessing her father's brutal murder of her mother, before she was sent into the torturous care of Isaac Taylor – a combined trauma that was used as explanation for the gruesome killings she and Gabriel have been investigating.
But – as we've come to expect with Rellik – it was all a bit gappy leaving us with a series of unanswered questions. Like how we get those six hours of our lives back.
But seriously – there are some big open-ended mysteries that just don't feel solved. And after so much investment, it feels more than a little frustrating.
1. Did Elaine survive?
We'd always wondered about the strange spelling of Elaine's surname. Now we get it – Elaine Shepard is an anagram of Helena Parides, her real name before she underwent an identity overhaul and undertook her killing spree. When last we saw Detective Shepard, she was a fireball in Gabriel's arms as he hurled them from a balcony of the burning Salvia Unit – her childhood psychiatric hospital and the setting of her horrific sexual abuse. We know that Gabriel is still alive, albeit heavily burned and bandaged, but what about Elaine? She doused herself in petrol before setting the building alight, but given Gabriel's survival it is – just about – possible that she is lying in her own hospital bed just down the corridor.
2. Why did Elaine throw acid at Gabriel?
Rellik left us with myriad mysteries and unanswered questions but chief among them is why exactly Elaine hurled acid at Gabriel in the park that night. The drama looked set to begin explaining it during the pair's showdown in the abandoned unit – but we never quite got to the nuts and bolts of it. "You did this to help me? You couldn't have me so no one else could?" he screeched at her, before the action switched to the police station. When we returned to the pair, they'd cycled onto other conversation topics leaving the question hanging in the air. If she loved him as she so often claimed she did, why did she maim him? To chasten him? It just doesn't add up.
3. What happened to Christine?
Acid-scarred Christine Levison was always a clear red herring. But she remained a mystery to the end, seemingly forgotten about in the final episodes. We know that she was intelligent and manipulative, relishing her ability to wind up the likes of Isaac and Gabriel with false confessions. But one major unanswered question still hangs over her – how did she end up with her facial scarring? Who is responsible and how or why was the acid attack connected to her difficult past? It was all left up in the air.
4. Gabriel, didn't you get shot?
Yes, it's a moot point but it's still annoying that Gabriel was shot by Elaine in the arm, was then seen clutching said wound in pain and yet still managed to haul his partner over his shoulder and carry her out of a burning building without much complaint. Irritating.
5. How did Gabriel fail to recognise Isaac?
We're led to believe in the series finale that Gabriel's discovery at the Salvia Unit was one of the defining features of his career – it's set up as what turned him from an eager young cop into the jaded, twisted figure we meet in the weeks leading up to his acid attack. Presumably if Gabriel was the one to stumble across young Helena Parides (aka Elaine) then he would have been involved in the subsequent investigation into the extent of the sexual abuse that took place at the psychiatric hospital. And surely in such an investigation, he would have come into contact with Isaac. Which begs the question – why didn't he recognise him? Yes, Rellik takes place 21 years later but surely such a formative experience would stay with you?
6. Why is Isaac still practising?
Given the sort of murky past he has – a track record known to the police – it beggars belief that Isaac hasn't been struck off. After all, it was he who ran the Salvia Unit – an establishment with widespread sexual abuse. And it was he who turned a blind eye to Helena/Elaine's childhood trauma. Sure, the cops don't know this is a man with a perverse sexual appetite (we're still trying to block that scene from our minds) but they are aware of enough to ensure he is no longer lending an ear to vulnerable patients. Or if he did somehow wriggle free from the scandal, why is it never explained?
7. What was the point in all that office politics?
Remember the secret gay relationship between two police officers? The receptionist who tried to break up with his girlfriend but ended up engaged to her instead? (And don't get us started on the chicken suit and horrific dangling pig prank.) Rellik put a lot of stock in set pieces between its officers in what often felt like a laboured attempt at office banter. But what was the point of it all? Why were we forced to get to know these anonymous coppers – and their secrets – without ever finding much use for that knowledge?
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8. Who were the rest of Elaine's victims?
We're still not quite sure just how many lives Elaine took in her killing spree. There was Jonas Berner who lost his at the end (or start, depending on how you see it) of the story. In that same episode (number five) we also saw a dead woman, killed while Richard Bell was in custody. There's the hooded victim whose throat was slit by Stephen Mills, under duress. And, of course, Isaac himself whose death was framed as suicide. Were there any more? It's suggested – by Gabriel – that all had worked at the Salvia Unit, but that was a deduction that was never followed up. And therein lies one of the most frustrating things about Rellik – it hinted but never confirmed, assuming its audience's knowledge rather than giving us the confirmation we needed.
This article was originally published in October 2017