Inside No. 9 (Season 4) Review
by J. Ellmers
***** 5 Stars
‘Each of these episodes are constructed in ways for viewers to feel the impact of the jaw-dropping, audibly gasp inducing twist at the end – ‘Zanzibar’ is no different.’
Note: This review focuses on Season 4 Episode 1.
Cast: Reece Shearsmith, Rory Kinnear, Marcia Warren, Steve Pemberton, Hattie Morahan, Jaygann Ayeh, Bill Paterson, Helen Monks, Tanya Franks, Kevin Eldon.
Synopsis: A hotel’s ninth floor plays host to a twisted collage of events – both joyous and mournful, humorous and horrifying.
Having previously binge-watched season 1 and 2 of Inside No.9, I already knew to expect the wacky twists writers Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith (who also feature as acting cast throughout the series) love to thrust upon their audiences. Particular favourite episodes of mine were ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’, ‘Tom and Gerri’ and ‘The 12 Days of Christine’. Each of these episodes are constructed in ways for viewers to feel the impact of the jaw-dropping, audibly gasp inducing twist at the end – ‘Zanzibar’ is no different.
The scene is set on the ninth floor of the Zanzibar hotel, with a diverse cast of people, which include Prince Rico (Kinnear) and his protective yet murderous bodyguard Henry (Shearsmith), Gus (Kinnear) and Amber (Morahan), a couple whose marriage is crumbling before their eyes and dementia sufferer Alice (Warren) and her caregiver son Robert (Pemberton). There are 6 rooms on this floor, and immediately characters are moved into separate rooms so quickly it’s hard to keep track of. It’s like when street magicians put a ball under one of three cups, shuffle them for a good 5 minutes and ask you to find the ball, except this time there’s 6 cups, 11 balls and 2 of those balls are exactly the same colour; it’s extremely hard to follow, but when you find the correct ball you are left simply amazed.
An impressive feature of the episode is that the entire script is in iambic pentameter, and consists almost completely of rhyming couplets. An homage to Shakespeare, even the characters mirror some of Shakespeare’s most iconic tragic figures. Most obviously, is Prince Rico and Henry, which seems to be a direct reflection of Macbeth and Duncan, with Henry chickening out of murdering his master, and getting a confused prostitute (Lady Macbeth, but with crimson hair and a very revealing dress) to carry out the act for him. The language, despite being Shakespearean in form, is not difficult to understand and makes the episode even more enjoyable.
If you have a spare half an hour and fancy shouting every possible plot twist you can possibly imagine at your television, Inside No. 9 is the show to do exactly that.
Inside No. 9 Season 4 is currently available on Netflix and was rated 15 by the BBFC.