Period Drama, The North Water is a five-part mini-series created by Andrew Haigh for BBC Two. The production stars Colin Farrell, Jack O’Connell, and Stephen Graham in the prominent roles. The narrative is based upon an English Novel of the same name written by Ian McGuire.
‘The North Water’ Episode 1 Summary
The North Water Episode 1, “Behold the Man,” is set in 1859. It captures the events of Hull (Kingston upon Hull), a port city in East Yorkshire, England. Henry Drax (Colin Farrell) is a giant-looking penniless poacher (harpooner) ready to sell himself or his belongings for rum.
Drax is recruited to sail with Captain Brownlee (Stephen Graham) the following day to the Arctic wasteland. Brownlee’s crew are refugees from civilization who earn a livelihood as whalers (whale hunters).
For his upcoming voyage, Brownlee hires Patrick Sumner (Jack O’Connell), an Irish ex-army surgeon who is out of work due to his conflicts with the law. Patrick inherited his uncle Donal’s dairy farm in county Mayo and set-upped a clinic there. But to his bad luck, some mysterious cousins crept out of the blue to counterclaim the property. Until the case is resolved, Patrick cannot practice on the piece of land and thus is ardently looking for employment. Patrick signs up as the ship’s doctor after a recommendation from Baxter (Tom Courtenay), Brownlee’s close friend and partner.
Before the night of the voyage, Drax kills a man outside the bar who refused to lend money for the rum. The stance establishes the brutality of Drax that is going to be explored in upcoming episodes.
Inside the ship, Baxter convinces Brownlee to sink the ship in the Arctic so that they can reap the hefty insurance money of 12,000 pounds. Hence it establishes that it is going to be a suicide expedition for Drax and Patrick. Who will come out alive from the cold is curiosity that enchants the viewers.
Curious Case of Patrick Sumner
Patrick served his time in India as an army surgeon of the British East India Company. But he left the army soon after the Indian Rebellion of 1857. When Brownlee inquired about his departure, he didn’t directly answer the question, rather told him the story of his inheritance. Brownlee knew that there was some airy mystery around this ex-surgeon that he was hiding.
Using the ship’s privileges, Patrick bought laudanum (narcotic painkiller). His impulsive buying suggested that he was an addict, or maybe he was trying to suppress the horrors of 1857. His puzzling persona hinted that he was concealing secrets under his skin. Even during the voyage, when Drax questioned Patrick whether he brought any treasure from India, Patrick denied it instantly. But later, Drax found stolen Hindu loot in his room that made Patrick more suspicious.
‘The North Water’ Episode 1 Ending
At the end of ‘”Behold the Man,” Patrick volunteers to hunt seals in the Arctic and other harpooners. His conscious mind considers the act as “Brilliantly Stupid,” but he thinks it was stupid like Drax who survive the nastiness of the Earth, and hence he should plunge in too.
During his return to the ship, Patrick accidentally descends into the ice water, and while struggling to come up, he imagines the walking dead body of a young Indian Boy. Patrick met the Indian boy when he was running away for his life in India in 1857. His hallucinating memory underlines that maybe, Patrick killed the boy or was somehow associated with his death. Thus, the memory haunts him. Patrick is a tormented soul who holds a devil within. The North Water Episode 2 “, We Men Are Wretched Things” will look at Patrick’s true personality and his conflict with savage Drax.
The North Water is a 2021 Period Drama TV Mini-Series created by Andrew Haigh for BBC.