Mr. Sloane: Episode Six (Episode Review)

This episode of Mr. Sloane isn’t very comic. Very few laughs in this episode. It’s the big one where we see where the breadcrumbs have been leading. The downfall. In its entirety. In this episode we get one awful discovery after another. We find out why Sloane was fired, we see his wife leaving him, his relationship with his friends is put under solid scrutiny and worst of all we see that his wife was right.

Robin is leaving him. Once confronted with the sexist, drunken, buffoonery of his mates down the pub, suddenly she doesn’t see Sloaney’s side as the most romantic place to be. It loses the comfort and warmth it once had when she sees the kinds of people he keeps company with; the kinds of friends that tear each other down, that hold each other back.

Through this we see him as the boy, piggy, being lured into the mud by so called friends. Humiliated and insulted, empty gestures get him back onside, just like the kid in the playground last episode. Now he is the apologist unwilling to see the bullies punished in his name. So much is he invested in their loyalty he would rather leave Robin than have her bad mouth them.

In another flashback we see how Sloane lost his job, in an all too real and depressing way. There is no comedy set up here, no farcical set piece, just a man being accused of cooking the books with no explanation. What’s worse is the accepting and sympathetic nature of his boss, who has no idea that Sloane is innocent. It’s heart breaking and confounding at the same time.

Finally we also see his wife, Janet, leaving him. This is less saddening as there was never much mystery to this. It feels as if we have gone through this before, like the show has given us the verbal version and now it bequeaths us the pictures. It provides us with a sense of closure when the sacking left us asking questions. Still though it’s Frost’s best scene, and some of the greatest character work of the series belongs here. Watch out for a bit of wordplay that spells out the Freudian truth behind the entire scene and gives us the best gag of the show.

Strangely for a series that has thrived on laughs to provide us with sympathy for our characters, in this, the most sympathetic episode, there are maybe two of them. It’s clear to me now that Robert B. Weide sees this as more of a film than a series, one of those old Hollywood maverick comedies, the kind that are laugh out loud funny, just not the whole way through. Comedy that worked to humanise its characters, get us on side with them, then use this new found relationship to hit us with the heavy stuff and make us cry.

Well, I never sobbed, but I certainly found myself remorseful. Its hard to cry at something with such a prominent sense of British Stiff Upper Lip. Even if it is written by an American.

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