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West Cork podcast review - Episode 8: The Game Is On

June 21st, 2021 8:00 AM

By Jack McCarron

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Spoiler Alert! This review contains spoilers. So if you haven’t listened to West Cork yet and are intending to do so - stop reading now!


One of the biggest fallacies out there in the ether these days is that it's just the Hollywood suits and bigwigs that are stuck in a creative rut, churning out sequel after sequel and spin-off after spin-off in lieu of the ability to actually produce something new.

The truth, at least to my eye, is that the entire world is stuck in this cycle.

The days when the production of truly 'new' art was an admirable goal, have long been replaced by the never-ending capitalistic ideal of increasing the profit margins.

The guaranteed success of a sequel is a much safer bet than backing something truly original.

It's why the despicable phrase 'Marvel Cinematic Universe' has become so widely accepted, almost as if it's a real place, with real people.

And the reason for such things is because of suckers like me, can't get enough of a good thing.

What has all this to do with the West Cork Podcast you ask?

Well, last night, Jim Sheridan's new documentary aired on Sky Crime. Netflix will stream their own version of events from June 30th.

There's a successful book by author Nick Foster currently on bookshelves across the country.

And I will consume them all.

The main suspect has even joined Instagram, just in time to capitalise on the new eyeballs set to get hooked on this story.

A recent Irish Times article noted that the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier has become an industry.

We're getting dangerously close to the 'West Cork Homicidal Universe' entering the vernacular.

I've already applied for planning permission to open a theme park on the Mizen Peninsula.

Jennifer Forde and Sam Bungey walked so that all and sundry could run and I often wonder do they ever view themselves as sort of modern day Viktor Frankensteins, with what they've unleashed on the world.

Anyway, here's my own weekly submission to the #WCHU gods. Enjoy!

West Cork podcast review - Episode 8: The Game Is On

I know I’ve said this several times throughout this series of reviews, but Episode 8: The Game Is On might be my favourite one yet.

It deals with the fallout from the inability of An Garda Síochana to secure a conviction, or even a confession from chief suspect Ian Bailey.

There’s intrigue, entrapment, lost evidence, accidental wiretaps and even an elusive new character who claims to have served as an intelligent agent in Northern Ireland during the troubles.

The game is well and truly on.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s murder is set aside in this chapter as the bruised male ego takes centre stage.

Gardaí, hurt by their failure to put Bailey behind bars, begin plotting his downfall through a series of highfalutin schemes involving only the finest Lebanese hashish.

They enlist the help of Martin Graham, a nomadic figure who is subject to a legal disclaimer by Jennifer Forde at the beginning of the episode.

Graham claims to have been sent by gardaí to befriend Bailey in return for some small redress.

The relationship between Bubbles, Kima Greggs and Jimmy McNulty in HBO’s The Wire springs to mind.

Except rather than trying to infiltrate the Baltimore (Maryland) drugs scene, Graham is asked to gain Ian Bailey’s trust.

Unfortunately for all involved, Bailey’s spy-dar was working overtime and he copped the ruse immediately.

It doesn’t take Graham long to flip and sure enough the bluff soon becomes a double-bluff and even a triple-bluff at one point. 

To his credit, Bailey, who is referred to as a ‘cunning bastard’ by gardaí, is also plotting.

A secret plan to have local gardaí stripped of their pensions becomes undone however when he lets it slip by announcing it publicly to a group of people at a bar.

Attempts to get his own secret spying operation up and running also fail when he blabs to his neighbours about his arrangement with Graham, proving he’s more of a Johnny English than a James Bond.

For the briefest moment listening to episode eight, I almost warmed to Ian Bailey. 

Something about how the garda operation is presented and his obvious intelligence left an impression on me.

But then we hear an interview with key witness Marie Farrell, who appeared on radio with Pat Kenny at some point in the aftermath of the trial.

Her re-telling of a meeting she had with Bailey at her shop in Schull is chilling and a welcome reminder that this whole sorry saga is much more than some silly game.

Our review of Episode 9: The Moonshine Effect will be available here next Monday.

If you’d like to get in touch with your own observations, theories or concerns about the West Cork Podcast you can email us at [email protected] or contact me directly on Twitter or Instagram @jayburgkk.

Read the review of Episode 7: The Arrest.

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