Inside No.9 Week: Simon Says Review
by B. Saunderson
‘The minor key diminuendo in both the soundtrack and the storytelling is almost the pinnacle of the writer’s exploration of jealousy and the battle for control.’
Director: Guillem Morales
Cast: Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith, Lindsay Duncan & Nick Mohammed
Synopsis: Simon Says, the second episode of the sixth season of this self-proclaimed dark comedy is a complex exploration of the more sinister side of fandom, entangled in mystery and suspense.
Review: This episode was one of the first written over Zoom in lockdown and it is profoundly personal. The magnificent soundtrack, composed by Christian Henson, plays a major role in this intimate portrayal of obsession and the struggle for power within an imaginary world. At first, the music feels deeply conflicting to the setting, as the small stage of a city flat feels restrictive for the epic string orchestration that fills its walls, but it soon becomes clear that this episode is hardly one set in a conventional context but is rather one rooted in artifice and is a liminal space between fantasy and reality.
The episode begins with a vast musical painting of the inside of Spencer, the protagonist’s mind and mental state. This alongside Spencer’s frantic attempt to remove blood from his hands, sleeves and the floor, sets the episode up as a classic crime plot but this is soon met with several twists that send Spencer and the plot into a spiral of obsession and loss of control. Simon, the episode’s names sake appears one evening with a threat wrapped in fan infatuation and turns the course of Spencer’s career as a writer on its head, twisting the storyteller into submission as the power balance between writer and fan soon seems to shift uncontrollably.
Although at times the twists can become somewhat confusing, the soundtrack pulls the audience through, relaying the emotions of fast paced scenes as it so powerfully projects an inner narrative adding to the deeply personal feel of the episode from inside the protagonist’s mind.
Despite the criticism the ending has faced for its surface level lack of drama, this is hardly the case. The minor key diminuendo in both the soundtrack and the storytelling is almost the pinnacle of the writer’s exploration of jealousy and the battle for control. It is a dark depiction of the delusion that can so easily stem from discipleship.
Every episode of Inside No.9 is currently available to stream on BBC iPlayer.