Why Love/Hate needs to hurry up if it wants to last for another season
We're halfway there. Three episodes in, what have we learned from Love/Hate's fifth season so far?
A few things, actually, one of them being that, eventually, even the best-kept secrets come back to bite you in the behind.
"I'm gonna kill him," said Fran upon discovering that Nidge was the one who fired that pipe bomb through his front window back in season two. The one that led to his wife Linda's death.
And so it began: Nidge Weasel vs Fran the Man. The master up against his lackey. Only one man can survive. But am I the only viewer who wants this long-awaited stand-off to end already?
True, the new season has, to put it mildly, proved a massive hit with audiences. Nearly a million of us tuned into the opening instalment, and Love/Hate is currently the most-watched programme on the RTE Player. Obviously.
And that's without going into the madness it provokes every Sunday night online, when my entire Twitter feed often resembles something of a scene-by-scene breakdown (just watch the bloody show, folks).
But before we begin to speculate about how young Francis and Nigel's duel will end (and we sincerely hope it actually goes somewhere) let us first conduct some half-time analysis.
Season five is... well, it's been okay. Reasonably enjoyable, in fact, and a steady improvement on last year's bloated, and surprisingly dull offering.
But my God, it's moving slow. Who's gonna kill whom? We don't know, but we'd appreciate it if the lads hurried up.
The same problems that plagued season four are beginning to creep back in.
Too much padding and not enough action. Too many shots of Nidge getting in and out of cars, or waiting on phone calls from Elmo. Too many hazy, drug-fuelled sessions.
Tommy's still in a coma. The cops have yet to catch up with the bad guys, yada, yada, yada. The acting continues to shine, but the plot is at a stand-still. It has been for more than a year now. And we're doing the same thing, too - the audience, that is.
We all know the truth - Love/Hate peaked at season three, and the reason we stick with it is because we secretly hope that creator and writer Stuart Carolan has another magical bag of tricks up his sleeve.
But there's only so long we can wait. We champion Love/Hate as the best show on Irish television, and it's still pretty good. But it used to be better than good. For a while there, we hailed it as something of a masterpiece, and rightly so. Now, it's beginning to slip.
We don't expect things to be wrapped up neatly, but is it too much to ask that Carolan get a move on and try to push the series into new and exciting directions?
Also, easy on the gratuitous violence there, boys (that cell fight last week was a bit nasty). Oh, and ditch the songs at the end of each episode. It was a neat trick at the start, but now it's just annoying.
So, let's cast aside our frustrations and try to take a guess as to where it'll all end up (it had better not finish inside a cell with Nidge performing another dance).
Here's my two shillings: that hitman Fran is trying to hire to bring down his arch nemesis? Methinks it's not for Nidge at all, but instead, someone close to the paranoid crime boss. A family member, even... think about that for a moment.
Also, keep an eye on brothel owner, Janet. If anyone's going to bring down Nidge's empire, it'll probably be the woman whose patience he's been pushing for far too long.
Tommy will awake from his coma (if only for a second), Siobhan will eventually dump bad boy, Paulie and the late John Boy will step out of the shower in his high-rise apartment and we'll realise that everything since season two has been one long dream... whoops, went too far.
Either way, one of them has to go: Fran or Nidge, especially if Carolan is intent on producing a sixth season.
And we need a big closer. Whatever that proves to be, we'll be watching. We're still hooked. Everyone is. See you at the finish line.