Poirot (Classic): S10E04 “Taken at the Flood”

Not much time to talk this week, gang, but it’s probably for the best; as Faithful Commenter Raven Wilder alluded to in last week’s discussion of After the Funeral, this adaptation suffers even more horrendously from the switch from post-war England to pre-war England, and honestly I didn’t think very much of it.

Some quick-hit thoughts, and we can toss it around in the comments afterward:

  • Jenny Agutter is wasted.
  • Tim Pigott-Smith is excellent as per usual as the unctuous Dr. Woodward.
  • We get to see Suchet stretch a little here with some of his most emotional scenes yet in the series; some may not like it, but I think it tracks well with his overall arc aging into becoming frustrated and angry at the continued depravity of people who value money above all else.
  • Eliot Cowan as David Hunter plays the character as a moustache-twirling sinister creep from the get-go, and to be fair he does a really good job at it…
  • Spoiler

    …which, unfortunately, isn’t who David Hunter is supposed to be. He’s supposed to be an opportunistic, who-dares-wins-type gambler who took a chance on an opportunity for a fortune and could plausibly be a love interest for the ostensible heroine of the episode. Here he’s just Snidely Whiplash with a bad haircut and a shave.

  • You’re telling me Scotland Yard didn’t investigate forensic evidence proving a gas explosion was actually a bomb until Poirot asked about it years later?
  • You’re telling me Lynn Marchmont fell in love with this asshat Hunter after 3 minutes sitting on a blanket?
  • You’re telling me

    Eileen Corrigan took 15 ampoules of “morphia” without one taste telling her it was castor oil?

  • You’re telling me Robert Underhay, an ostensibly famous explorer, would only be recognized by two people when clearly there are, uh, photographs of him?
  • I’m still trying to figure out what purpose

    having Rosaleen survive the suicide attempt instead of having had David murder her serves. Here, she’s clearly a victim of sorts, so I guess our sympathies ultimately lie with her, but since the episode has David do everything else to hang an “I’m A Monster” sign around his neck, killing her would have been a bridge too far? She’s tossed away anyway at the end in favor of wrapping up Lynn’s story, so it’s not like keeping her around did any good, and killing her would arguably have made more sense.

  • But by far the single biggest problem here, again, is the time period. Having Gordon Cloade’s house blow up in a gas explosion instead of being hit in the Blitz completely severs this adaptation from the themes and motivations in the book and forces the characters to become almost cartoonishly evil for evil’s sake.
  • This single change forces the writers to make Hunter’s character

    into a complete psychopath (here, he’s a bomber, rapist, and an incestuous brother)

    instead of the character portrayed in the book.
  • Too, again the post-war “picking up the pieces” atmosphere – key to the book, which emphasizes the effect the war had on these lives – is so crucial to the entire story here, and it’s sorely missed. The Blitz, Rowley Cloade’s farming partner being killed, Lynn being a Wren, heck, even Major Porter and Poirot chatting in a bomb shelter during a raid – these are all elements that are lost entirely, and the contortions are felt throughout the episode.
  • I mean, even the title “Taken at the Flood” no longer makes any goddamned sense.
  • Basically… I sort of hated this, and I’m not sure I wouldn’t have even if I hadn’t read the book.

In Two Weeks, on Poirot: Ariadne Oliver returns to the village of Broadhinny with Poirot, as we get all Marple-esque up in here. Extra! Extra! Read all about it! “Mrs. McGinty’s Dead”!