Review: Black Work (S1 E3/3), Sunday 5th July, ITV

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Black_WorkHere we go then. The finale of this three-parter, which one of this site’s commenters described as ‘blowing chunks’. I disagree with him because even though this had the making of another one of those competent but formulaic, high concept short drama series that seem to come off the ITV production line like so many cuddly toys, I’ve thought this has proven to be above the norm – solid acting and writing, very good direction and editing and more emotional clout. But how did the finale do?

After last week’s revelation that Jo’s undercover cop husband had lived with another woman on the job and fathered another child with his secret girlfriend Zoe, all we had to do now was to get to the bottom of it all and find out who bumped him off and why.

From the middle of last week’s episode, we’ve been led down several blind, red herring-filled alleys and in this episode, with the story going through the gears, suspects were quickly set up and then, um, set down again. Before, we had CC Jarecki, the cool, stern ma’am who Jo had fallen out with and then Lee, Ryan’s best mate and who was seen by Jo with Tom Piper. Then there was Top Piper himself, whose taciturn and grumpy manner and warnings of staying away from the case made him instantly suspicious. In this finale we were presented with Jack, who had proclaimed his love for Jo earlier in the episode (there was a subsequent relationship consummation) and was revealed to have been one of the last people to see Ryan alive. That could have been the twist – Jo had been paranoid about being bugged and Jack would have been the last person she would have suspected (she had slept with him after all). But no, the writers pulled away from the character, too.

It was a relatively small cast of suspects but there had been a relatively small cast of characters. There were the cops (Jack, Lee, Kapoor, Jarecki) all of whom had been teased. Except for one. In the end it was gorgeously-brogued and up until then supportive DCS Hepburn, who, he explained to Jo after she had found that he had been the one recording her and Jack’s conversations, that he was on some sort of righteous quest to take out anyone who might have got in the way of the investigation of the gun-running gang. He let his sense of justice become warped.

So a satisfying conclusion? In some ways. It was all a bit rushed (only three episodes, remember) and Jo’s final verbal confrontation with Hepburn (where her character basically became a conduit for plot-revealing information: “So… you did this and then you did this *furrowing of brow* and then you did this…”) was thriller-by-numbers, but there was much to like about Black Work, especially early in the story when Jo’s life was imploding and she was just beginning to go down the rabbit hole of paranoia.

What I really liked about this short series were the female characters who had all been touched and/or destroyed by Ryan/Neil in his short life. There was his ex Carla, who had suffered terribly when Ryan had gone off with Jo; there was Jo, who not only found out that her husband had been an undercover cop, but also he had had, as Neil, a little girl with Zoe; and there was Zoe who had naturally crumbled when Jo told her the truth about her ‘boyfriend’ and father of her child. There was a touching moment when all three women were pictured together, sharing new-found friendships.

Just shows you that out of tragedy and deception lives can be rebuilt.

Paul Hirons
@Son_Of_Ray

For our episode one review, go here

For our episode two review, go here

One thought on “Review: Black Work (S1 E3/3), Sunday 5th July, ITV

  1. There wasn’t a huge amount of suspense and the casting told you all you really needed to know about who the bad apple was. But it was pacy, very well written (are you listening, The Interceptor?) and exceptionally well acted by a superlative cast. Dame Sheridan Smith (surely that will happen one day) is once again a magnetic presence while in no way being a girly victim.

    Like

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