‘The Replacement’ Episode 3 recap: A somewhat unsatisfactory ending

The final episode of this BBC One drama series concludes leaving the audience with some uncertainties.

Writer/director Joe Ahearne brings a measure of suspense into the plot by using scenes with little script, whilst the viewer is left assuming the rest.  This technique is used skilfully in office scenes where Ellen (Morwen Christie) watches her ‘Replacement Rival’ Paula (Vicky McClure) interacting with colleagues, rousing suspicions that all is not as it seems.

It starts well, but unfortunately deteriorates into some implausibility.  The first part of the mystery is solved, when it is revealed that Paula lost her own daughter tragically in a hit and run car accident.  Apparently, the mysterious Georgia (Sharon Young) was rushing to the hospital to take her own daughter for treatment for leukaemia when the accident happened. The connection between these two women strung around their daughters does stretch the imagination.

Two scenes in particular, stand out as unbelievable. One is where baby Leah is placed on a balcony in her Moses basket, whilst father Ian (Richard Rankin) potters around in the kitchen whilst glancing out of the window to check her. It comes as no surprise to see the basket has disappeared!

Frantic ‘phone calls ensue and Ellen turns up looking for her daughter with suspicions confirmed that she was taken by Paula. Ellen’s earlier statement that “she’s a lunatic”, now seems a possibility.

Another incredible scene follows, where somehow Ellen is trapped inside a car in a garage with Paula playing taped ‘baby cries’ of Leah.  But where is she?   Paula insists that the only way out is for Ellen to take a bottle of dodgy pills, and amazingly, she just takes them and falls asleep. She wakes miraculously and is capable of figuring out ‘fast-wiring’ the ignition and soon she drives off to the new Library where she finds the baby! Viewers are left thinking that maybe they missed something, but there are too many assumptions to make this credible.

Unfortunately, Ellen’s husband, Ian, is seduced by Paula’s charms,  especially when she presents an expensive gift to Leah (a sophisticated baby monitor for her to wear). They become too close for comfort whilst Paula places doubts in Ian’s mind that he is Leah’s father. A paternity test is suggested, so it seems that Paula will strike at anything to get what she wants.

Maybe it’s the men in this series who end up the ‘losers’.  Ian for not supporting his wife, Ellen, during her time of need and Fay’s husband David (Dougray Scott) who seems more obsessed by past affairs than his untimely wife’s death.

What had originally promised to be a compelling plot of two women juggling motherhood and careers concludes that they couldn’t have it all, despite their best intentions.  Ellen is finally a happy ‘stay at home mum’, but at the expense of losing her husband whilst Paula gets arrested.  A somewhat unsatisfactory ending to what had promised to be such an excellent series.

Aired at 9pm on Tuesday 14 March 2017 on BBC One.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let us know below…

Reviewed by Zoé Patrick.