Inside No. 9 – ‘To Have And To Hold’

CONTAINS SPOILERS

This was another episode where the number 9 was a house number. It is a suburban house, and the plot is about the dead-in-the-water marriage of middle aged, middle class couple Harriet (Nicola Walker) and Adrian (Steve Pemberton). But, with it being Inside No. 9, there’s more than meets the eye…

Adrian spends his spare time doing jigsaw puzzles, and when he isn’t doing that he tends to be in the basement, eating Pot Noodles, which Harriet buys for him in multipacks. The basement serves as a darkroom, as Adrian is a professional wedding photographer.

Adrian and Harriet have been married 20 years. Harriet wants them to have a ceremony to renew their vows, and has written her own. Adrian however has just printed some vows off a civil partnership website.

Adrian and Harriet never had children, apparently due to Harriet’s frozen eggs and Adrian’s weak sperm.

Financially they are in a bad way too. They are behind on their mortgage payments and their bills are red. Harriet thinks they could move to a smaller place, but Adrian replies that he doesn’t want to make her leave the house. She suggests going back to her old job, but it’s implied she might have had an affair with a work colleague at some point, and either way she’s certainly seen him quite recently, as Adrian secretly photographed them together! Harriet counters though that their cleaner, Agnes, left because Adrian came onto her.

A little later, the couple try role play. Adrian is “Dick Shafter” and Harriet is “Nurse Honeypot”. It gets really, really awkward, as Adrian can’t get aroused, and in isolation this scene is actually quite sad. Harriet suggests other things they could do to spice things up, but Adrian dismisses all of them. The doorbell rings. Another couple are coming over to look at their wedding pictures. Adrian claims he forgot, but Harriet doesn’t believe him, in fact she thinks he planned it so he wouldn’t have to do anything with her. She’s understandably very angry, and pours herself a glass of wine.

The newlywed couple are Max (Reece Shearsmith) and Hannah (Miranda Hennesy). They got married in a church. Harriet tells them she and Adrian “just did a boring registry office”. Max and Hannah had doves at their wedding, to which Harriet replies “Two grey pigeons, we had, outside a council building”. (This was my favourite part of this episode, I really liked Nicola Walker’s performance, and the mix of drama and comedy in the scene. Juggling a dramatic and comedic tone in the same scene is not always easy to get right).

Anyway, Max and Hannah realise they have come at a bad time, so ask if they can reschedule, and then they leave.

Adrian goes to the darkroom, locking the door behind him. He makes a Pot Noodle, and at this point we find out he has a secret bunker there, where he is keeping a woman chained up. He undoes his trousers. We can draw the horrific conclusions for ourselves.

A little later, Adrian and Harriet seem happier. It’s his birthday, and she has got him a jigsaw, a Bombay Bad Boy Pot Noodle… and a surprise week away in Paris. They haven’t had a holiday for nine years, since the darkroom was built, and are due to leave that afternoon! Plus, Harriet’s parents are coming to house sit!

Adrian is desperate. If he goes away for a week, the woman locked in the bunker will starve to death or attempt to escape. But if he lets her out, he will be found out for the monster he is. He deliberately takes a fall in an attempt to injure himself so they won’t be able to go on holiday.

Sometime later still, Max and Hannah come round with a bottle of champagne to thank Adrian. Harriet tells them he has died. Agnes (Magdalena Kurek) is there as well, and after Max and Hannah leave, we learn all that happened. Adrian locked Agnes in the bunker nine years ago. During that time, she give birth to a son, Levi (Tom Mulheron). Levi is sent down to the basement with a Pot Noodle. He gives it to Adrian, who is now chained up in the bunker. Harriet intends to keep Adrian there for the rest of his life.

The twist that happens halfway through the episode is very shocking, but the twist at the end isn’t a surprise. I suppose it might be the contrast, everything in the earlier half of the episode had such a stilted, domestic atmosphere up until that point, then it took a shift into very dark territory. That said, I had expected from the beginning that some sinister secret was going to be uncovered, but I guessed wrong as to what specifically the secret would be. I thought it was going to turn out that Adrian was a serial killer.

As well as the episode title itself, throughout the episode traditional wedding vows pop up as title cards. For Better For Worse, For Richer For Poorer, In Sickness and In Health, To Love And To Cherish and Till Death Us Do Part, and they match with the scenes they are introducing. Those wedding vows are also the last words of the episode, as Harriet repeats them at the end, and in context, those words have a much more sinister tone than they would usually. Ironically, it means Harriet did renew her wedding vows to Adrian in a way.

According to Harriet, Adrian had a recurring bad dream involving John Prescott and Creme eggs!

‘To Have And To Hold’ was once again a very good episode, probably the darkest from series 4, and I thought Nicola Walker was great in it.

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