As we approach the finale of Unforgotten, it’s impossible to avoid speculating about ‘whodunnit’ – but should we be asking ourselves ‘whydunnit’, or even ‘whysolveit’?
Throughout this absorbing police procedural, there have been two overriding themes; the destructive effect of guilt, and the question of whether time should erase it.
Whoever turns out to have killed Jimmy in the ’70s, all the major suspects have had their present lives ruined by the investigation into his death; by dragging up all their sordid secrets, and by reigniting the guilt they have all buried, each one has been made to pay for past sins, whether or not he or she actually killed Jimmy.
None of the suspects seems to have a clear motive, so can one be established which will be in character? And as Sunny asks, with the passage of time and the unreliability of memory, is it even right to attempt to find a solution to the case?
But what are the most striking possibilities?
Lizzie, as we know, was a violent racist – or, in her account, the helpless pawn of a violent racist. Though we can’t see her having murdered Jimmy, she certainly helped to rob him, and this could have contributed to his death.
Father Rob isn’t perhaps a strong contender to have done a violent murder, but he’s certainly a master liar and manipulator, and in getting Jo-Jo pregnant, he seems to have contributed to Jimmy’s downfall.
Cross certainly tortured Jimmy over money, but why kill him? He seems to be lacking motive, and his emotional outbursts of guilt do seem to indicate some genuine compassion.
Eric does have the small factor of the second corpse buried in his garden to explain, but we don’t buy that he’s a homophobic serial killer – more likely the dupe of a stronger character, as he will probably claim in the finale.
So let’s consider some more complex possibilities;
They all did it. All four bear some responsibility for Jimmy’s death, but perhaps none was solely to blame; as in An Inspector Calls, Cassie serves the function of an angel sitting in judgement over the four, but in the end, the death was caused by another element, perhaps even an accident. Have the suspects, perhaps, conspired only in concealing the murder?
Or, none of them did it. While all the major suspects are guilty of something, none of them actually killed Jimmy; but if his death was a murder, who could be in the frame? One of Cross’s gangster mates? A character we know is now dead, such as Lizzie’s racist boyfriend? Or – and this is one we’d put money on – the one character central to the plot, who all the suspects knew, and yet whose questioning has been very light and unrevealing – yes, Jo-Jo. Was Jimmy’s own girlfriend the murderer, and did the others conceal the crime out of compassion for her?
And the last possibility, and in some ways the most likely, is – we’ll never know. Despite the weight of forensic evidence, with the passage of time and the unreliability of memory, it’s possible that while we might have strong suspects, there will never be enough to put anyone in the frame.
All the guilt and all the remorse in the world might not be enough to establish the truth of what happened so long ago – and in that thought, we believe, may lie the essential argument of Unforgotten, that while people may never be forgotten, circumstances may, and some events are just too far off for any certainty about them to remain.
Unforgotten: Thursday 12th November, 9pm, ITV
For all our Unforgotten news and review, go here