Through much of the pilot, the title character remains what he was bred to be: an English gentleman. He just happens to be an English gentleman with an extraordinarily nasty smack habit.
Cumberbatch is his usual convincing self as the druggy Patrick Melrose, meaning he’s often slimy, contorted in agony, and at points, looks as if he smells rather gamy. Yet when he’s onscreen in Showtime’s limited series, you can’t turn away for a second.
He commands every scene, an impressive job considering he spends a fair amount of time alone on screen. And while he handles dialogue with grace and style, some of his most impressive scenes are played wordlessly; in one, he uses that long body to druggily traverse a swanky hotel mezzanine as the floor rises up to greet him.
Translating Edward St. Aubyn