In the fourth episode of Jekyll, Miranda confronts Peter Syme with knowledge of what she believes is happening at Klein & Utterson while more tests are done on Tom Jackman. Through flashbacks, we learn of how Tom and Claire met and that Hyde’s appearance was not as sudden as we once thought. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Jekyll.
AHHHH HOW CAN THIS SHOW GET ANY BETTER. HOW???? I am just flabbergasted that more people don’t talk about it or by the fact that four years have gone by since it aired and I’ve never seen a second of it until now. I am enamored with this story, and the fascinating narrative devices used here only accent what Moffat’s written instead of distracting from it.
In order to talk about the two stories we’re given, I’m going to focus on each one separately. I know that they’re deeply intertwined and relevant to one another, but it would be too hard to cover everything if I stuck with how the episode presented them to us. I’ve said before that I generally do like flashbacks, especially when they’re executed well; they work so perfectly in episode four because they’re unexpected. I did not think we’d ever get this much backstory on Claire and Tom, and I’m pleasantly surprised by how much of an influence and part Claire has in the full story. But it’s confusing at first, too, since episode three ended with Tom in that mysterious box and Claire tied up in the back of a truck. So when we open with Tom out of the box, interacting with his wife in a bizarre way as if he doesn’t know here, there are those few seconds of dissonance. What the hell is going on?
The progression of the flashbacks not only show us the utterly adorable way that Tom and Claire hook up for the first time, but give us the emotional weight to contextualize everything that’s happening in the present. (I’ll get to that later.) That is what I love about fiction and why I ultimately find myself drawn towards good characterization. I relish the chance to get a complete picture of a person, to learn parts of their history that bring them to where they are now, to understand their motivations and their emotions like we get to here.
Yet on top of this, I was simply shocked that we learned that Tom Jackman began his transformation to Hyde a whole lot earlier than we’d been led to believe. I’d just assumed that the transformation in front of Katherine was maybe the second one, that this was a very sudden and recent change for Jackman. However, now I realize how little sense that makes, given what I know about Jackman. Which is still not that much more than it was before, honestly, but that’s the appeal of this. Moffat is slowly releasing details that make the very idea of Tom Jackman more mysterious instead of more definable.
Things start off small. His thumbprint physically changes so that it’s no longer recognizable. (AHHHH PETER SYME WAS THERE AND HE FUCKING KNEW. PS: I have now taken to shouting WEDGE ANTILLES every time Peter’s onscreen. CAN’T STOP ME.) He mysteriously grows hair on his arm that wasn’t there minutes before. We get glimpses of Hyde when Jackman has sex with Claire.
And then, on vacation, WHAT THE HOLY FUCK HOW DOES ANY HUMAN BEING THINK OF THIS. That scene with the motorcycle dude is one of the most uncomfortable things I have ever seen in my entire life. It is 100% awful in every universe that has ever existed. It’s almost too ridiculous in a way, and I don’t know that the show needed to go to these lengths to show us what would happen when Jackman was forced to deal with feelings of inadequacy towards his wife.
That’s really what this is all about. Hyde is the ultimate, extreme expression of masculine terror, a complete package of unrepentant, societal rage, and I found it fascinating that a social situation that challenged Jackman’s sense of his manliness would trigger this all. (Side-eyeing the use of violence against women to “develop” a male character, though I do acknowledge that this show features Claire way more prominently than I expected, given this trope.)
As Tom deals with more and more strange messages from someone that is announcing their arrival, I realized that this would be the first full conversion we’d see. And what a conversion it is: This is one of the most frightening scenes in the entirety of Jekyll. Obviously, the dynamic of the confrontation mixes personal revenge with pity all at once, making me feel all weird inside, but I started truly fearing Hyde because I had to remind myself that this first appearance had no boundaries. Jackman had never experienced this before, so there were no rules. I still don’t even know if he killed that man on the pier, but even if he didn’t, it really doesn’t make the attack any less horrifying to watch. The man is completely uninhibited as Hyde, clearly some sort of animal who has been locked up for so long. His glee at his freedom isn’t even funny to us: it’s just flat-out horrifying. Without any system of control, it’s not out of the question for him to beat the man within an inch of his life and then bite his ear off and save it for later.
How weird is it when Jackman calls his wife from the hospital and initially feels satisfied? God, what a creepy, unsettling thought. He has no idea why he feels as if he’s gone through some brilliant catharsis, but it speaks to how uniquely attuned Hyde and Jackman are to one another. But let’s just come out and discuss this episode’s gigantic, confusing reveal: When Claire gives birth to her twins, the doctors were genuinely surprised that Claire had two children.
BECAUSE THERE WAS ONLY ONE REGISTERED HEARTBEAT THE WHOLE TIME.
Okay, OKAY. I cannot ignore that. How is that possible? Clearly, that’s at least part of the explanation for Jackman’s dual nature, but….what. WHAT. WHAT.
I can’t find where I said it, but I know that I’ve mentioned that I sort of hate when characters are in some weird, confusing, or complicated situation and they don’t just stop and ask questions. Well, that doesn’t happen here at all, and I was full of joy while watching Claire, Katherine, Miranda, and Min all take Peter Syme to task over what’s going on with Tom Jackman. Look, I just love how playful Miranda and Min are, so there’s that. Plus, it’s so rare to see a room full of women in this context, and the confrontation between Katherine and Claire isn’t played out to be some sexist or side-eye-worthy trope. But what I found so fascinating was how we were led to believe that Miranda had arrived at Klein & Utterson’s with all of the answers we’d been waiting for. I wasn’t totally sold on the idea of clones, but I was completely taken just watching Miranda talk. It was initially a brilliant way to provide us with some exposition BUT THEN IT WAS ALL WRONG. Oh my god, that look on Peter’s face when he says he expected better only because the Institute knows just as much as she does. I mean….HOW IS ALL OF THIS POSSIBLE??? I know the answer is hanging out right in front of me, but I can’t figure it out. How did Jackman come to possess these powers if can’t be Dr. Jekyll’s descendent? Where the hell is his “mother”? She’s not his mother, is she?
And even through all of this, I still don’t know what the Institute is really for. We find out that they’ve given Jackman whatever “cure” they’ve possessed for the last fifty years, but we don’t know why. There’s a chance he will also end up permanently in the Hyde body, too. But, again, why? Why give him the cure? Is that the entire point of the Institute? I thought they needed Jackman for something, but it makes no sense to me that they would do this to him at all. Peter’s bizarre retort that seems to suggest that Jackman is a “cure” for something is equally confusing: what part? The Hyde side? And, again, why would you take the risk of curing Jackman if his Hyde counterpart was some huge scientific breakthrough?
I’m certainly intrigued and emotionally hooked by this show’s mythology and the strong cast of characters we’ve been given. (Though Katherine really hasn’t been around that much, has she?) Above all of this, I’m simply entertained. It’s a whole lot of fun to watch Jekyll and it’s certainly satisfying to know that the story only has six parts. This almost feels like one really long movie if you put aside the cliffhangers we’ve gotten. I really don’t think it’s possible that the man who will step out of that box (after Claire so gloriously doused Peter with hot coffee for all his fuckery) will be Tom. It has to be Hyde, and I think that’s what will need to be addressed immediately in episode five. I can’t say that I am any closer to figuring out what the hell is going on, but the thought that I’ll soon know is rather exciting.
This show, y’all. THIS SHOW.