There are characters that become hopelessly tangled with their performers. When David Suchet minced into Poirot’s shoes back in 1989, he embodied that character in a way that wiped out all previous performances. It will also likely block any reinterpretations for a long while. That he was allowed to bring Poirot through his full cycle as Christie wrote it, is a great gift and joy for lovers of the mysteries.
This final series of 5 episodes is, perhaps, the darkest and most interesting of the pantheon they created over the nearly 25 years. While I’ve always enjoyed our Belgian friend, the stories haven’t always been the driving reason to watch the mysteries, the character interplay was. These last 5 are all the best of his humor as well as fun, complex mysteries worth watching.
This last go-round also brings the return of Wanamaker (My Week with Marilyn, It’s a Wonderful Afterlife) as Ariadne Oliver. Oliver provides a great foil for Poirot, being his mental equal and cultural antithesis. She is, in many ways, his Irene Adler. And Wanamaker sells it delightfully.
The casts of each of the episodes are loaded with recognizable faces, but the last episode, Curtain, is crammed with them. McNulty (Misfits, The Paradise), Reid (Last Tango in Halifax), Baxendale (Dirk Gently), and Dingwall (Breathless, Doctor Who). And that the last episode will stick with you for a very long time.
Where most of Christie’s work, particularly around Marple, keeps having the same half-dozen stories getting remade, Poirot has always been digging deeper into her opus. This is in large part due to Suchet’s dominance of the role. He couldn’t very well remake a mystery he’d already been in, so they had to pick other material. And, fortunately, Poirot has a wonderfully rich life of consistent friends that age with him that we get to know over time. I am sorry to see this series wrap up, but so happy they did it with nerve and in style.