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Derek - S2 - E5 - Feature

'Derek' recap: Loss, heartbreak and the sad, bitter truth

Season 2 | Episode 5 | Aired May 21, 2014 (UK Channel 4)

Ever read a Netflix episode description and think, “Nope. No way. Not watching that one”? When I saw a mention of Derek’s favorite dog getting put down in the synopsis of episode 5, that was my reaction: Nope. No way. Not watching that one.

The prospect of getting emotionally destroyed while eating a turkey sandwich over lunch was less than thrilling. Ever the intrepid journalist, I sat down, popped it on and let the show rip my heart out with beautifully painful honesty. While it was an uncomfortable half-hour of free-flowing tears, the fifth episode of series 2 was yet another example of an extraordinary show touching somewhere deep.

As the show opens, we see the animal shelter has brought the little fuzzballs back and the residents are loving every minute. Derek is scratching and rubbing the chin of his favorite dog, Ivor. Derek tells us how he loves every animal, but Ivor makes him feel something indescribable. They are an adorable pair, each one making the other feel wonderful.

After the scratching session, Derek and Kev work on some artwork. Derek is molding a clay Ivor, complete with his “sausage tail,” and Kev is painting one of his usual sexually strange portraits. When Kev confesses he’s always had a knack for art and could have done something with it if it weren’t for his drinking, Geoff gives us his opinions on addiction. To him, it’s a myth, a series of excuses made by weak people to rationalize their frailties. He literally has no idea what he’s talking about.

Derek - S2 - E5 - Derek Clay Ivor

Having done enough work on his painting, Kev announces it’s time for him and Derek to go on a scavenger hunt. Before leaving, Derek says goodbye to Ivor, who needs to leave for a checkup, as Geoff starts messing with Kev. It turns out Kev has been scrounging around in dumpsters collecting metal junk for a “sculpture” he’s working on. Naturally, Geoff thinks it’s a terrible idea, realizing it’s dangerous to have metal scraps around the elderly. While he has a point, he goes about it in the jerkiest way possible.

As Kev leaves with his shopping cart full of metallic treasure, Geoff continues to act tough, even as Hannah and Vicki tell him to lay off. Once Kev is gone, Geoff refers to him as an “undesirable” that the home needs to be rid of. Derek takes offense, and for the first time in two series, he expresses anger toward Geoff for insulting his friend. Hannah confesses to the camera that Kev really shouldn’t be there, especially with a buggy full of rusted garbage. The edge in her voice makes it clear something’s not right.

The “New Side of Derek” Moment: After Geoff dismisses Derek as liking everybody, Derek replies he’d rather like everybody than nobody. As Derek storms off, it’s clear Geoff has gotten under our friend’s skin.

The “Kev Still Kinda Rules” Moment: After relocating his sculpture in process to the basement, he asks Geoff to borrow his soldering iron. Naturally Geoff says no, but as Kev ignores him and takes it anyway, Geoff tells him not to lose it. Kev’s comeback of, “Awww, I was going to lose it for you” is fantastically snarky and does a great job of putting Geoff in his place.

Derek - S2 - E5 - Hannah and Tom

As Kev and Derek do some Dumpster diving, we realize why Hannah is so tense. Tom is considering a job that would require him to be at sea 90 percent of the year. It looks like this has been an ongoing argument that has taken them around in circles. It’s tough to watch this and not take sides, but one thing is clear: If he decides to get on the boat, Hannah considers it breaking up.

To make matters worse, Kev and Derek walk in with a new load of trash. Hannah flips out a bit, tells them to stop making a mess and storms off. Vicki can tell something’s amiss, yet admits she’s amazed how Hannah does what she does. She has the weight of the entire facility on her shoulders, and the way she remains so upbeat is remarkable.

With the garbage put away, Derek checks his online dating profile and once again sees not a single hit. As Kev tells him to not worry, Hannah goes into more detail on herself and Tom. She refuses to be in a relationship where she only sees him two weeks out of the year and Tom simply wants to be a provider. It sounds like Tom is feeling guilty about not being able to contribute, while Hannah wants the man she loves to commit to a stable relationship.

Back in the home, Derek rushes to his father’s room to give him his favorite medicine: a flask of whiskey. Evidently, the doctors have ordered Anthony to quit drinking, and since Hannah has enforced the decision, Anthony needs Derek to sneak him drinks. Hannah scolds Derek a bit and says, “You sometimes need to be cruel to be kind.” This strikes Derek as an insane contradiction, especially after Anthony yells at him to leave.

Derek tells us his opinions on drinking and how people do it to make themselves feel better and forget. He’s concerned about his dad, but he’s more worried about Kev because he still has a life to lead. Hannah considers everything you do, including boozing it up, as a roll of the dice. Kev is open and honest about his habit. He doesn’t push his alcohol on you; don’t push your sobriety on him. He also admits he can’t create when sober. We’ve only seen rare glimpses of his artistic leanings, but once we see his sculpture in progress, we can tell he’s got some talent. His giant trash sculpture actually looks great, even with its giant, erect robot penis.

Derek - S2 - E5 - Kev with Drink

Later in the day, Hannah receives some terrible news: Ivor, Derek’s favorite dog, has cancer and needs to be put down. Hannah breaks the news to Derek, who completely unravels. He can’t comprehend why they can’t fix Ivor, but still wants to go to the dog’s bedside to be with him. Between Kev stealing stuff for his sculpture, Tom leaving on a ship and Ivor being put down, it’s been a brutal day.

What follows in the most emotionally ravaging scene from the past two seasons. Derek sobs uncontrollably as we watch the vet take him through the process of putting Ivor to sleep. According to the vet, doing so would be kindest course of action. Derek’s heart is breaking before our eyes as he not only watches his friend die, but learns the other side of kindness. Sometimes doing what’s right bears a heavy cost. Not every good is good and not every bad is bad.

The “Nightmarishly Heartbreaking Derek” Moment: As the vet performs the injection and Ivor slowly slips away, he reminds Derek of the dog’s wonderful life, surrounded by people who love him. When the deed is done and Ivor is gone, Derek, though a curtain of tears, thanks the vet for his kindness.

As Derek walks back to the home with Ivor on his mind, we see Anthony has filled his photo album with pictures of Derek. When Derek meets Anthony on the garden bench, Derek pulls out a bottle of whiskey. Hannah walks over, sees the booze and, instead of snatching it away, hands them both a shot glass. It’s been a brutal day for everybody and while it should never become a habit, there’s nothing wrong with tipping a sip of the strong stuff with someone you love. After the day’s events, we all need a drink.

After sharing a shot with his dad, Derek walks down to Kev’s makeshift workshop to find an amazing surprise. Kev has made a sculpture of Ivor out of bits of trash and stolen kitchen utensils, accurate down to his little sausage tail. Hannah is shocked by Kev’s beautiful gesture, but Derek isn’t. Nobody ever surprises Derek because he knows we all have something hidden deep inside. He knows Kev has a knack for surprising you when it’s least expected.

Derek - S2 - E5 - Iron Ivor

But there’s one more bit of drama before the show closes. Tom appears with two bags by his side. He’s made his decision, and as he leaves for the dock, Hannah’s brave face begins to crumble. As she sits down next to Vicki, she finally gives way and collapses into tears. The residents comfort Hannah and we watch Tom walk to the boat; the moment hangs suspended in midair. The lights go out, and just as Hannah moves to leave for the night, Tom appears in the doorway.

The two embrace and kiss. It’s a desperately needed sigh of relief in an episode filled with tears and sorrow. Devastating because it’s true, episode 5 reminds us to appreciate who we have while we have them. As a tribute to a lovely episode, my dog got a huge hug after the credits rolled. I just wanted to be a little more like #Derek.

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