Screenplay by Russell T. Davies.
Episode 3‘s a strange one. Even though Cucumber focuses on Henry Best, the instigator of most events this week was Freddie Baxter when he meets his old school teacher, with whom he once had an affair. As the plot progresses, Baxter reveals, piece by piece, the way their renewed relationship’s a revenge scheme for everything he experienced. Which makes this episode the archetypal Cucumber, as it presents a dark theme in a comedic fashion. Having acquired a photo of his target in the bedroom, he threatens to send it to his wife, with whom he has a child. So there’s also the idea, which is also present in reality, of gay men being married with a family. But it’s part of Davies’ goal to present a form of post-rights version of sexuality. Which is why that isn’t a highlighted theme, and instead the story’s about the way he leads himself into Baxter’s hands.
In fact, the highlight of the episode is by far the climactic scene in the middle of the open-plan residence, as Freddy prepares to send the image, supported by Best, and opposed by the image’s subject, all leading to a physical confrontation on the floor as they scramble over the phone, locked against each other and unable to actually do anything. And cue Dean, whose only reaction is “I’m not getting involved in this. It’s too weird. Use the safety word”. I love Dean. Dean’s probably my favourite character created by Davies, though actor Fisayo Akinade’s also due credit for making him unique. I just adore the way he floats around scenes on the periphery, and bounces around like a kangaroo. You never actually see him walking anywhere. And he’s always so happy! It’s almost inspiring. And as his Banana episode showed, when it comes to a yes or no answer, he’s happy with his life. Hopefully Davies will give Dean his own spin-off called Peeled Banana so I can write endless reviews in-which I essentially lick his ass every week.
Another thing that surprised me about Baxter was his attitude toward Best. Whereas in Episode 1, he was completely dismissive toward him, and in Episode 2 he confronted him about the copyright license of his face regarding masturbating (so sue me, bitch!), here he actively pleads to him, addressing him by his first name, for help. That’s what I love about Davies – he isn’t afraid to force immediate character develop if it’s called for.
Of course, this only makes the following scene even more effective, with the three recovering from not Baxter sending his image, but Lance Sullivan having given them a good kicking after melodramatically making a point of them deserving it. And I’m not going to say they did deserve it, but it was funny because of how Davies-esque it was. He was clearly having so much fun with what he was writing, and his presence can be felt in literally every character.
Again – he’s managed to write what he himself would call “marvelous!”. I love it when he says that. I’m kinda glad that he doesn’t want to give Cucumber a second season, because the story only has so many episodes to develop, and he’s making sure it does. I both do and don’t want this show to end – do you understand my problem?
Cucumber: Episode 3 – fearlessly melodramatic comedy of revenge 8/10.