As the series is heading towards the end, things start to take shape as, in Episode 4, a kidnap plan goes haywire; John apparently having hidden motives of his own, and after being pushed to the very brink, Sophie’s plans for getting more Portal lead to murder.
After having a slow start with the first three episodes, the action starts to kick in and things get more visceral than before. We see just how desperate Sophie’s situation is as she’s prepared to murder people to get what she wants, but it’s major plaudits to Chelsea Edge that we’re still invested in her character and her story arc. Chelsea makes Sophie believable and you honestly believe that she doesn’t want to murder people, despite how desperate she is to escape from her own harsh reality. She superbly manages to convey the desperation and fear, and without her Sophie could’ve ended up being a bland character as a result.
We also start to learn a little bit more about John and what his possible motives may be. It all seems to suggest towards a revenge scheme due to some unfortunate incident in his past, but Clay Whitter keeps things very controlled and he makes the character emotionally withdrawn in order to give the character more intrigue and mystery about him.
The intrigue and mystery plays a part in the episode’s atmosphere, and this episode is probably the most atmospheric episode to date. Craig Porter’s cinematography is very visceral and striking with creative uses of shadows and blacks used to create an almost noire-esque quality to it at times. Combined with Ashmore’s hand-held direction that is playfully used to crank up the tension and suspense, it makes the whole thing seem like a horror thriller. That horror aspect is also perfectly reflected by the use of music at the very beginning of the episode, which also adds a foreboding tone for what’s to come in the episode.
Portal has so far been playing an interesting game with its clever use of character arcs and intertwining plotlines, and this is the episode where all that starts to come together and take shape, and the cliff-hanger in this episode is actually a great one for once as it doesn’t feel abrupt as previous cliff-hangers before and will certainly leave people impatient for the next episode and what occurs in that.