Inside No. 9 : The Riddle of the Sphinx

Another dark and twisted story happening behind the doors of somewhere marked 9.

Have you ever seen someone die via crossword?

As always spoilers below…

Technically no one dies via crossword in this but Shearsmith and Pemberton once more show just how very clever they are as The Sphinx (Steve Pemberton) goes up against Nina (Alexandra Roach) in what turns out to be a deadly lesson on crosswords.

Its one of those episode where absolutely every point in the story is a new twist. We start off nicely enough with a crossword. It then turns into a sad story of a professor who couldn’t be wrong and the death of a young boy. Then it turns into something altogether more sinister….

Pemberton is at his absolute best as University Professor Nigel Squires, better known as the Sphinx in crossword circles, as he ups the pomposity whilst teaching Nina, goes extremely dark after he tricks her into drinking the poisoned cup of tea and then gives a emotional belter when Tyler (Reece Shearsmith) shows up and lets on that he’s tricked them both in a twisted revenge plot going all the way back to Squires sleeping with Tyler’s wife.

For once Reece Shearsmith was able to out do Pemberton in the creepy stakes. Knowing the Sphinx won’t be able to resist showing off he traps the egotistical professor in his own crossword, after informing him what Nina planned and pulling the switcheroo Squires is lost to Tyler and ends up eating a bit of poor Nina who in the biggest twistiest twist of them all is actually Squires daughter after all.

Whilst you expect this to really show off Pemberton and Shearsmith, the intelligent and crazily intricate story telling acted out in the most dark and in some ways over the top way, Alexandra Roach really did a great job as the only other character besting Pemberton’s Squire’s and showing her own pompous side in the meantime. At the beginning you laughed at her seemingly one step behind the professor and when it came for her revenge you truly wanted it. Her quick quip “what’s the porpoise of that?” being one of my favourite lines of dialogue in a episode neck deep in fanciful wordplay. One of my favourite guests so far in the series as a whole and someone you can honestly feel sorry for being in the middle of a messed up revenge plot.

The episode was right up my street. I loved how clever it was, I loved the wordplay and words can’t describe how much I loved the final twists at the end. With Tyler getting the upper hand and just how much thought had gone into his twisted revenge I stopped breathing at one point. A truly sad ending.

Well at least for Nina, the other two should have been more adult about these things! Two kids dead because one dude slept with anothers wife and it turned out the kids weren’t his! I mean really…

Lesson learnt though, never trust a freakin’ crossword!

ORRR solve it fast and get the hell away from whoever is trying to kill you!

3 thoughts on “Inside No. 9 : The Riddle of the Sphinx”

  1. Oh, dear – “The Riddle of the Sphinx” contains a glaring embarrassment. Prof Squires patronises Nina unmercifully: when she says her boy friend “hung” himself, he points out pedantically that it should be “hanged” . But earlier on, he tells her to “deduct” (!), when he means “deduce”.

    1. Haha good spot! I’m not nearly good enough to catch anything like that! Though by the time he was patronising her he also knew it was her brother not her boyfriend!

  2. I think there’s a chance it’s intentional to show that the pedantic professor isn’t infallible. Remember he did cheat in the competition that resulted in the brother’s suicide.

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