Breeders takes a dark turn in “No Cure: Part 1”, the first half of a two-part finale that threatens a tragedy to come.
This recap of Breeders Season 1, Episode 9, “No Cure: Part 1”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Breeders has played with abrupt changes in tone before – remember when Ally’s (Daisy Haggard) estranged father Michael (Michael McKean) got hit by a car? But the darkening of the mood in Breeders Episode 9, the first half of a two-part finale, is different. The early stages of Luke’s (George Wakeman) worsening health are played for laughs; just another problem to add to a mounting pile for Paul (Martin Freeman), who is mightily struggling now that Ally is spending her weekdays in Berlin. The kids are struggling too, both with missing their mother and, in Luke’s case, potentially being deathly ill. “No Cure: Part 1” ends without giving us any concrete information about what’s wrong with him, but the morbid tone of his doctor and the show itself, not to mention the episode’s title, don’t bode well.
The blame begins immediately, but it’s telling of Paul and Ally’s relationship, the real-life merits of which we discussed in the previous recap, that they both blame themselves rather than each other. Paul obviously feels responsible, as though he missed signs that should have been obvious because he wanted to get Luke out of the way so that he could negotiate a new job at a think tank with an old acquaintance. But he doesn’t blame Ally’s absence, which of course she does; she feels spending weeks away with dopey Darren (Patrick Baladi) put her children at risk.
But the real emotional sting in Breeders Episode 9 comes from an unlikely source: Paul’s father Jim (Alun Armstrong), who takes on the responsibility of babysitting Ava (Jayda Eyles) while Luke is in hospital, and touchingly confesses to her how little affection he showed Paul throughout his life. The love was there, he just never knew how to display it. Luke’s illness is a reality check for everyone and a tragic proposition for a show that has thus far been a mostly light-hearted examination of parenting and relationships. Where the second half might go is anyone’s guess, but “No Cure: Part 1” doesn’t suggest anywhere fun.