A medical crime drama series that stays alive and well
By Jonathan Pabico, Senior Columnist
The surgery scenes may be uncomfortable for squeamish viewers that can’t endure the grisly imagery.
Showcase’s eight-episode TV series Temple comes to a thrilling end with a special two-hour season finale for the first season. After his wife becomes terminally ill, British surgeon Dr. Daniel Milton (Mark Strong) starts a private clinic to give medical aid to criminals under London’s Temple train station in hopes of finding a cure. Helping him are former patient Lee Simmons (Daniel Mays) and fellow doctor Anna Willems (Carice van Houten). The show’s concluding entry, albeit undercut by a few flaws, is impressive enough to warrant another season.
Through an unfailing performance from veteran actor Mark Strong, the finale did an excellent job of exploring Daniel’s double life as his endless string of choices, secrets, and compromises strains his personal relationships with other characters. As the surgeon’s lies lead to more lies, the story is enthralling to follow as he abandons his old morals to adopt new moral extremes in trying to save his wife. Daniel’s choices as a doctor raises questions about the ethics behind medical practices and how we justify questionable actions to ourselves.
Strong, May, and Houten’s decent chemistry on screen helps the show’s finale survive all the way to the climax. Their characters are humanized enough with grounded bonds that are fairly layered for the story. This realism enables us to dive deep into the emotional toll that season one’s events have taken on Daniel, Lee, and Anna’s private lives.
The finale is also strengthened by brilliant camera shots, sound design, and sets. The city of London is portrayed as a clean and bright place, and this contrasts the clinic’s seedy and dank atmosphere. This visual aesthetic is mixed with a distorted musical score to evoke Daniel’s unstable duality of his double life.
Main characters are mostly alone in their locations. Idle close-ups are edited with lingering camera angles during dialogue scenes, and these elements convey how isolated they all feel because of the secrecy and ambiguity.
The story still suffers drawbacks though. Lee’s friend Jamie Harris (Tobi Bakare) is an irksome secondary character that, despite his acceptable dynamics with other protagonists, makes frustratingly reckless choices to the point of absurdity. However, the show does have some dark humour that compensates for this shortcoming.
Stakes could’ve been elevated further by exploring more ways in which Daniel and his cohorts would struggle in handling their dangerous clientele. Instead, the finale focuses only on Daniel’s motives and balancing different subplots.
As a warning, the surgery scenes may be uncomfortable for squeamish viewers that can’t endure the grisly imagery. Overall though, Mark Strong’s newest TV series offers a medical drama that stands out among its peers. While not a perfect ending, Temple’s finale wraps up a surprisingly intriguing story about the consequences of crime, self-interests, and moral choices.