It is not exactly clear what the hell is even going on for most of The Devil’s Hour’s six-episode runtime, which was written by Tom Moran and co-exec produced by Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue. Dreams of things that never happened and images of calamities that will never happen plague Lucy (Jessica Raine).
Isaac, who is portrayed by Meera Syal, is a peculiar young kid who repeats back what people say to him, has several imaginary pals, and never shows emotion. He is neither autistic nor schizophrenic, and the most recent doctor to deal with Lucy and Isaac is also unsure of what is wrong with him.
Meanwhile, Lucy is in a room with a strange elderly man named Gideon at some point (Peter Capaldi). He is chained to the table, and she has bruises all over her face. He inquires, “What is the worst thing you have ever gone through?” It isn’t until the final episode that the solution to this and a plethora of other questions is made clear.
A blessing and a curse, both. The Devil’s Hour is very addictive viewing because, for a high profile and genuinely disturbing mystery, it keeps the viewer wondering right up to the very end.
The last episode will consequently be extremely exposition-heavy, cramming in answers, metaphysics, significant themes, philosophy, and more, most of which will be presented from that room in episode one. That is a lot.
The Devil’s Hour is a lot taken as a whole. What’s going on with Isaac? Why does Lucy get up at 3.33 every night? Who is the enigmatic red van’s driver? A very ambitious show that spins too many plates and gets its shoelaces tangled in the numerous plot threads that result from the addition of two child abductions that occurred decades apart, a few murders, gang warfare,
a love story, and a family dispute, ghosts (or not), Lucy’s sick mother, and an incredibly bleak worldview. The cast, for the most part, shines, the show is slick, and the dialogue is well-written, so that’s not to say it’s bad.
When Raine is steadfastly attempting to get a smile from her odd and pleading child, creating voices, making up songs, telling jokes, and forcibly laughing herself to try to elicit his, Raine gives a very game and increasingly frantic performance that is never sadder.
\It serves no purpose. Young Benjamin Chivers, who plays Isaac, deserves praise because despite being told to essentially not respond and appear sad, he performs the role in such a way that Lucy is driven to love him no matter what, and her desperation takes on a tragic air.
Ted Lassos’ alter ego, Phil Dunster As Isaac’s estranged father Mike, Jamie Tartt is suitably endearing/smarmy, while Nikesh Patel, who plays DI Ravi Dhillon, the police officer attempting to solve several cases whose path finally crosses with Lucy, is a fascinating straight man directing viewers through the subtly developing stories.
However, Peter Capaldi is a little underutilized. While his enigmatic persona is undoubtedly important, he also spends a lot of time at that table being secretive and explaining—or inadequately explaining—things, depending on which episode you are watching. Even if he doesn’t have a tonne of actual work whole do, it’s wonderful to see him assuming a villainous (or is he?) role post-Doctor Who.
The Devil’s Hour is ultimately only a partial success since it is brilliant, high concept, and intriguing but is unable to properly explore the key concepts at its centre, choosing to keep the surprise until the very end. Once the whole truth is out there, we’d say it might have benefited from a few more episodes, but alas, we fear the logic could have fallen apart if examined too closely. However, if you see it with your friends, there will be a lot to discuss afterward.
You can watch The Devil’s Hour on Prime Video.