“Not Tom” unearths a much more chilling discovery in the search for Tom himself, as the show’s priorities begin to shift.
This recap of The Sounds season 1, episode 3, “Not Tom”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Following the explosive ending to the previous episode, “Not Tom” picks up in the strained domesticity that follows it, with Zoe and Maggie both still under Jack’s roof. It still makes no sense to me that Maggie is there, but whatever; nobody but Zoe seems to mind, especially Jack himself, and indeed Hannah, who values her as free childcare for Bella and practically begs her not to let the fishery go under. The fate of the fishery is of particularly pressing concern to everyone in The Sounds episode 3, especially since Tom has been gone long enough that the likelihood of him turning up is lower than ever.
Zoe isn’t interested in sticking around either; she does another runner, emptying purses as she goes, and stays out of the way for most of the episode. Esther now has access to Stuart’s computer, including his deleted emails containing sign-off contracts, and the financial difficulties of the fishery and its hard-up workers is fostering a lot of anti-Tom sentiment throughout Pelorus. Tom himself is still trapped under that water tank, but he’s able to extricate himself just in time. Kath, leading the Search and Rescue team, spots his hideout, and while investigating it turns up some human remains.
The remains aren’t Tom’s, obviously, but they cause a bigger stink in town than they would have done if they were. More on this in a moment. Meanwhile, Ester reports back to Nate that Tom hasn’t been found and that the paperwork around the fishery was dodgy. Maggie already had a sense that something was up when she witnessed Tom grappling over that folder at the deal-signing party, and while out asking after Zoe, she actually runs into the man he was grappling with. After following him a while, she asks Stuart what was in that folder — he says it was an environmental report, and that the deal can’t be signed without it. Tom took a shortcut and tried to bribe an official for the report, even though the salmon farms are ostensibly as sustainable as he claims. Why? Stuart suggests it was probably to avoid people like Pania getting in the wrong ears. Apparently, when the guy in charge of the report realized what was what he tripled his fee; now he wants 200 grand to sign off on the report, but nobody has the dough. Stuart suggests that Maggie turns to the Cabbotts, but we know that isn’t going to happen. This scene is intercut with another of Esther reporting the same information to the family. Frank, despite Nate’s objections, is insistent that Esther doesn’t allow the deal to go through.
Anyway, about those remains, since “Not Tom” puts a great deal of focus on them and The Sounds is evidently not going to be the same show now that they’ve been discovered. They belong to Ru’s daughter, who was murdered many years ago — Pania’s son, Ryan, was caught and charged for the murder, having given a confession that Pania later tells Maggie she believes was coerced. He served ten years, returned to Pelorus, and quickly left again; now nobody knows where he is, and very few people besides Pania care. The discovery of the remains so far away from where the girl originally disappeared raises some pretty huge questions about what really happened.
If The Sounds episode 3 gets something really right, it’s the depth of emotion it’s able to summon around the discovery of these remains, which ripple throughout the entire community. Tainui Tukiwaho, who plays Ru, is tremendous here when he discovers a trinket among the bones which confirm they are what’s left of his little girl; he later shares a powerfully tender moment with Pania, too. All the chatter about parents and their children prompts some flashbacks, as we see Maggie and Tom discuss her being pregnant and see, I think, their baby being taken away? It’s deliberately difficult to tell.
In many ways, this new plot is more interesting than the one that involves Tom, and The Sounds seems to agree, since Kath tells Esther that since Tom hasn’t been found floating after all this time, he’s gone. We know he isn’t, of course, but one gets the sense that we could get on just fine without him. When a police higher-up from Wellington arrives to tell Jack that the search for Tom is officially over and that the discovered remains are now of more pressing importance, that feels like the show shifting its priorities. Maggie goes with Pania to make a little memorial for her husband, and it’s only the fact we see him watching from afar through binoculars that reminds us he still has a part to play. Exactly what that is, though, remains to be seen.
Thanks for reading out recap of The Sounds season 1, episode 3, “Not Tom”. For more recaps, reviews and original features covering the world of entertainment, why not follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page?
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.