Lomax is targeted by Naylor (Michael Feast), who’s come to collect the fortune he believes Lomax has stashed away. But with Lomax absent, he stalks Andrea instead ….
No time is wasted in establishing that Naylor is somewhat on the psychotic side. He begins by purchasing a gun from a selection offered in a car boot at a multi-story car park (even this early on, it’s easy to believe that Naylor – although he didn’t – could have killed the seller after the deal was collected). He then picks up some protection money from an arcade, doing what turns out to be his signature move (rattling a box of matches).
Someone – we don’t know who – has commissioned Naylor to retrieve up the money it’s believed Lomax collected before he went inside. But although Naylor might appear as an intimidating figure to Andrea, everything we’ve seen in the series so far suggests that he’ll be no match for Lomax.
And that’s how it later turns out, which is one of the weaknesses of the episode. Had Lomax not been urgently called away then I’ve a feeling the story would have been a lot shorter ….
The reason for Lomax’s absence – his mother is ill – does feel slightly contrived, especially since we never actually see her or his father. Lomax’s father, a policeman of the old school, still intensely disapproves of his son’s fall from grace and has shut him out of their lives. Some sort of meeting would have carried a dramatic punch, so it’s slightly surprising that it didn’t happen (although since his mother’s illness features later in the series it can’t be dismissed as simply a MacGuffin).
With Lomax away, the field is clear for Naylor to creep aboard the narrowboat where Andrea is sleeping, douse her bedclothes in petrol and then wake her up – all the time rattling his box of matches in a menacing fashion. Michael Feast would always do you a nice line in unhinged types and he doesn’t disappoint today – playing off against Lindsay Duncan in this key scene very well. The moment when an apparently satisfied Naylor leaves Andrea (only to casually throw a lighted match towards her) is quite a jolting one.
A shaken Andrea, recovering in hospital with burns that thankfully aren’t too serious, is visited by a concerned Lomax but as soon as he leaves her room up pops Naylor to taunt her again. That’s a slight story contrivance but I think we can let it go.
So far the episode has kept Lomax and Naylor apart – he searches, but fails to find him, in the hospital – but eventually of course they have to meet. And then things go the way you’d expect with Naylor proving to be no match (ahem, no pun intended) for the remorseless Lomax. Which, as touched upon before, is the episode’s main flaw – had Naylor contrived a way to get Lomax out of the way so he could deliberately target Andrea then that might have just tightened things up.
That’s only a minor quibble though, as The Collector is another strong episode which doesn’t feel padded.
It’s the end of the line for Lomax and Andrea though, as she decides that his life is just too dangerous for her. So he loads up the narrowboat and sets course for a new destination ….