‘A Random Act of Kindness’ shows that this series of Inside No. 9 is proving to be quite diverse in its chosen genre targets. Though it really would be telling to say exactly which genre this episode leaps into. Needless to say, the results are thought-provoking, poignant and rewarding, especially to those who take the time to go back over it again.
The episode sees frustrated but talented teen Zach (Noah Valentine) at constant odds with his hardworking but tired mother Helen (Jessica Hynes), due to raw family issues of the past. However, when good natured stranger Bob (Steve Pemberton) knocks on the door one day, the course of their lives are about to drastically change.
This layered family drama inside a time-centric narrative about regret, chance and destiny is a highly ambitious piece of storytelling. Taking some big screen concepts and condensing them into a 30 minute chunk of compelling television, may mean that this episode is limited (budget wise) in some ways (visually especially) but by no means in its writing. What could have been another entry in a well worn plot device, instead becomes something more personal, more thoughtful, and come the final act more tragic. And that is thanks to the script’s focus on character and detail.
In fact, there are some details you may well miss the first time round but - appropriately enough - have patience and go back, and you will find yourself admiring more points. Just as you will become invested - despite some initial reactionary feelings - in the characters and their own struggles, which come full circle by the end. Leaving us with the question of whether we are doomed to repeat life’s trials and tribulations, whatever technology we may have to hand.
Once again, this is a riveting piece of well acted and written television that goes in directions the show has not oft wandered before. We’re sad to say there’s only one episode left!!