After a week’s absence we were thankful to have Inside No. 9 back on our screens this week and once again the show proves there is nothing else like it currently on television, with an episode that actually leans into the cliche and convolution of television dramas and novels, with its story of a troubled detective trying to crack a case.
Naturally there is more to it than that. Much more in fact, in an episode that reminds of some of Pemberton and Shearsmith’s most twisty and inward-looking stories. In the case of “Nine Lives Kat”, the duo tackle the writing process itself, harpooning notions of ego, as well as showing how an idea can take life in some obsessive ways and eventually come to destroy you. What happens when a construct or a creation gets out of hand?
It’s a compelling and chilling idea, played out with the show’s unusual unpredictable panache, as a token TV detective caper transforms into a Stephen King tinted afflicted author story, as creator is attacked by creation. Or so you think. For some, the twists may be a bit too plentiful in number but every indulgence is intended, validated and necessary. Every generic beat is intentional and every moment is mapped out and sent up, as the film laughs at the writing process, whilst at the same time addressing its maddening vices.
Sophie Okonedo as the vodka and coco pops (never tried that one) chugging detective gives a reliably excellent performance, as she is joined by Shearsmith, Pemberton, Robin Weaver and Siobhan Redmond, in a well-performed piece of fine tuned television, that takes in and sends up all the tropes of hit TV drama and bestselling detective procedurals to create a wicked twist on what it is to craft a successful story, and how a concept can grow darker as it sits in that bottom drawer.
Any writers out there will really connect with this one, while other audiences are not left out but instead invited along and will likely sit there thinking how glad they are they read the books and watch the TV and don’t make it because it really is the road to madness. The Shining was right.
You’ll certainly leave this one with a new found appreciation of side characters too, after this funny, headspace-dwelling twisting story has reached its climax. Even with all this, “Nine Lives Kat” makes time for a couple of spooky moments akin to Mike Flanagan’s work because…why not?
See you next week.