In episode 7 of Serangoon Road, Pamelyn and the CIA dude keep on making out, Alaric is accused of smuggling explosives into Singapore, and everybody actually makes a compelling attempt at acting.
Characters are introduced to the episode with romance: Pamelyn and CIA dude make out in the dark after possibly having had a date; angmohs are spooning and Claire is gonna stay in Don’s apartment. Pamelyn, over CIA dude’s shoulder, notices some late night workers: turns out to be a bomb! CIA dude tries to chase them down but instead the dude gets SHOT IN THE HEAD and CIA dude gets punched out.
At the Detective Agency, Pamelyn and Joan talk about who might be responsible for the bomb and how happy Pamelyn’s parents will be that she was interviewed as an eyewitness (not at all), and James Lim, whom you might remember from episode three (he had a dead wife and a live girlfriend who was also another man’s wife), turns up to say that his brother Professor Lim is under suspicion because he believes Malaysia for the Malaysians and he just wants him to be safe!!!
Everyone believes him.
They accept the case, in part because Pamelyn was once a student of Professor Lim’s. Don goes detectiving, and Ario turns up looking for Alaric, whom he claims is a known associate of the bombers. Meanwhile in other detectiving, after failing to actually make a difference in the bombing, CIA dude has been noticed “at Langley” and has been raised a class or something, and gets to read some files that MI6 has finally decided to share because they want to protect against the commies! What a coincidence!
Alaric lies to Don about who he’s smuggling for, and what, and then fires a warning shot: “you can tell Mrs Simpson that Singapore’s very small. When someone sees something, everyone sees it.” Pamelyn meets up with a friend, another ex-student of the Professor’s. We learn that Pamelyn and Felix the friend once dated, but she broke up with him because he was boring. Felix has some super nerdy glasses, and also knows where Professor Lim is! They head to his car and he tells her she has to get into the boot! I am worried at this point but it’s all good, they get to meet Professor Lim and he says ‘thanks but no thanks,’ as opposed to Felix kidnapping her which I was mildly concerned about, god Pamelyn, haven’t you ever heard of telling people when you’re getting into the trunk of an ex-boyfriend?
Meanwhile CIA dude has been reading the files. He finds a file on Pamelyn! She has pigtails and looks adorable. Old MI6 Dude and Old CIA Dude turn up, and Old MI6 Dude knooooows about the Pamelyn file, he knoooooows he conveys it with his smug ang moh face. After they leave, CIA dude turns back to Pamelyn’s file: the informant was Felix! CIA dude later asks Pamelyn about this; “Why would he lie about me?” she asks. CIA dude can’t pronounce Yao.
Alaric takes on some crates of what look like baijiu. He checks them, all looks good, off he goes but at the boat house THE POLIS. Under the baijiu is explosives! ALARIC IS IN JAIL IN HIS TIGHTY WHITIES! Alaric admits to Don that he’s been running alcohol for the unions, but definitely not explosives or anything. Don gets to make a deal with Ario that if he can get the professor, Ario will consider letting Alaric go. Otherwise he’s getting hanged for something something.
CIA dude follows Felix, breaks into his room and threatens him in a fairly hilarious way. I laugh SO HARD. Felix admits he placed the report because Pamelyn broke up with him, what a loser. CIA dude drops the report in a street fire which surely is pointless, because 10SGD says MI6 dude has a copy.
Alaric admits to Don that he has no idea where the Professor, as head of a union section or movement, lives or is hiding, but he does know where he prays. Don heads on out, first being followed by a man on a motorbike (whom he beats up, and throws on a table in front of James Lim), and then staking out the place of prayer (Professor Lim goes in for some incense, unsurprisingly). Don follows the professor to a union meeting, where the professor is sad about the violence and some other guy is like NO WE MUST THROW OUT THE 外国人. The polis crash the party with guns and smoke grenades, and Don calls out a come with me if you want to live to the professor. While they’re escaping, the professor gets shot by a man in a mask, who is later revealed to be one of James Lim’s goons. Is it because his brother is a threat to his attempts to be a politician in Singapore? How did the polis and/or James Lim’s man find where they were? What is going on?!
In the boathouse, Alaric is out of prison and they fight because it was Alaric who told the police (and/or James Lim) where to raid, and also maybe he has been smuggling guns for the unions. But not explosives and he’s Singaporean, damnit, he’s totally allowed! Don gets angry because now the professor is going to die (from his wounds, presumably); Alaric reminds Don that he was about to be hanged and Don was the one who made the original deal with Ario. Don, somewhat understandably but also somewhat inexplicably, becomes upset and breaks the partnership up. “I always knew you’d plan an angle, I didn’t have a problem with that. But I never thought you’d lie to me like that. We’re done,” he ends, but Alaric gets the last word. “We’ve been done for a while.”
Outside of the Expat Hangout, Claire breaks up with Frank (her husband, you may remember him but he’s been pretty boring so far so no problems if you don’t), who asks, “you think that will last?” She heads over to Don’s place and knocks and waits and knocks and waits and he’s not there. Instead he is GETTING HIGH, which he hasn’t done in an age. Claire tries again at the Agency and Joan answers the door; takes her to the boathouse where Alaric is getting drunk and, reluctantly, leads them back into Chinatown to the den where Don is getting high.
Joan is disappoint (but pretty). Alaric promises to bring him home in the morning, and I’m worried about Alaric’s motives. On the beach he was reluctant, is he trying to sabotage Don? Show if you ruin Alaric you’re in so much trouble.
CIA dude and Pamelyn sit in a boat house on some water, chatting about how she’s gotten into her USA universities and she needs to not make trouble or it’ll get her VISA revoked. She has an adorable fringe and makes fun and he’s all grumpy until she agrees. Then MI6 dude turns up with photos of them together (…is it a secret?) revealing they’ve both been followed, and therefore photos of him threatening Felix, and CIA dude realises that MI6 wanted him to find the file in order to incriminate himself. NOW HE HAS TO BE AN MI6 PATSY.
In a way, this episode is about questionable choices. CIA dude chooses to scale a drain pipe and harass a guy in his own apartment. Claire chooses to leave her husband for a guy who passes out in a drug den. Alaric chooses to smuggle for the unions and then lie to his business partner. These choices will have ongoing repercussions, and I hope they’re AWESOME, but continuity has not been amazing so far so I’m sceptical.
This episode had its ups and downs, and after CIA dude found out about Pamelyn’s file I noted “ugh so far this episode so boring”, but by the time it wrapped up I was cheered and totally into it and whilst I could remember writing it down, couldn’t remember feeling bored! So second half, excellent; first half, not so much. Not a lot of gross colonialism in this episode aside from all the ‘we must keep Malaysia for the British!’ and ‘KEEP US FROM THE COMMIES’ which as usual was accurate and I hate everyone.
The advertising and branding for Serangoon Road has been all about it being against the backdrop of Singapore becoming Singapore, and despite Joan getting caught up in that mob in episode three and the bombing that started it all in episode one, this is the first time I’ve really felt that it’s all had an impact on what’s going on in any meaningful way.
Script-wise, I loved the bringing back of James Lim from several episodes ago, keep up the continuity. And there was some excellent acting here, the relationship between Pamelyn and CIA dude felt genuine and believable (even if the build up still doesn’t); Claire really did struggle with leaving Frank; Alaric is upset and stressed about by what he feels is Don’s disinterest. Really the only one who didn’t feel compelling was Don. Interested to see where we go from here, with only three episodes left; but with only three episodes to go, it feels like it’s only just hit its stride and I’m not sure it actually has the momentum to keep my interest held and that cool stuff going. We’ll see.
- As always, Singaporeans very excellent.
- Not enough Joan in this episode
- This episode title is relevant, at least superficially, to the story lines of the episode! Good work everyone.
- Lots of untranslated Mandarin in this episode, which I loved. Totally adorable, and also interesting choices at times – when Alaric and Joan are talking on the beach and Claire is with them, they’re using Mandarin. An exclusionary tactic? (I dig it) (Haha sometimes we ARE talking about you) Interestingly, in the scene on the beach the translations are quite different from the actual Mandarin. Spoken the conversation is “I’m looking for Sam. You know where he is?” “Not here.” Translation reads “Sam didn’t come home. You seen him?” “No.”
- There needs to be more eating! Only eating in this episode is Don eating noodles from a hawker while staking out the temple and Claire having lunch with Rachael Blake.
- Claire can pick up her stuff tomorrow, after Frank’s gone. Is he gonna sabotage her stuff?
- Love Uncle Owner, who disapproves of Claire staying over but also knows about back alley doctors and takes Don to them to find Professor Lim.
- No Auntie Fortune Teller 😦
- Will the new, attractive journo in the bar mean anything in upcoming episodes? (ps Macca sleazed onto her, surprise)
- WHERE IS THE KOMBI?!
- Next episode: Aussie girls missing; my boyf Song Ge; “now you’re a real spy” hahaha.