Review: Vera (S6 E2/4), Sunday 7th February, ITV

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vera_s5_ep1[1]After last week’s shock events ending with the death of Bethany, it’s hard to imagine what worse horrors might befall Vera in this episode. There’s fallout from the death – the inquest is still in progress – but Vera does seem to have drawn a line under the events.

When two young men find a bagged corpse in a cave near a partying site, Vera seems to notice much more than the forensics lads about the state of the body, sniffing out the death spot and finding a crucifix on the scene.

Ticket stubs lead to the travelling Pevensey Fair, where the body is identified as casual worker Jamie Thorne – but no-one knows much about him, except that he stayed at a local church run by a couple, the Halefords.

Fairs are always fertile grounds for jealousy, sexual intrigue and violence, so we immediately suspect owner Bobby (Sean Gilder) and daughter Jodie (Finn Atkins) of being involved.

Jamie’s mother Grace (Jo Hartley) and her new husband Phil (Jason Done) also fall under suspicion when phone records track him to a snooker hall Jamie used, and she seems to have erased an incriminating voicemail.

Vera’s pretty hard on the suspects, and she’s hitting the booze – so perhaps the inquest actually is affecting her – but she’s full of sympathy for Bethany’s colleague Mark, who blames himself for her death.

When evidence suggests that Jamie was digging for something at his death scene, Vera and Aiden unearth the body of Brendan, son of the Halefords, who was supposed to have run away to London (he seems to be remarkably skeletal considering he’s only been in the ground a year). So who knew Brendan was dead – the Halefords’ daughter Mia? And is there a connection to sexual abuse charges hanging over George Haleford (Joe Dixon)?

George confronts Bobby Pevensey, who he thinks did away with Brendan because he was selling drugs at the fair; and a bag of Jamie’s belongings is found in George’s bin. But Vera figures out because Jamie’s insulin is missing that the bag was planted by fairground worker Harris Kirke (Ben-Ryan Davies) and Jodie Pevensey (Finn Atkins).

Caught in a series of lies, Harris claims that Brendan died in an accident, Harris buried him, confessed to Jamie, then killed Jamie. In fact he’s covering for Morvern Pevensey (Julia Ford), who was concerned for the reputation of the fair after the accidental death of Brendan, and who did in fact kill Jamie.

When the verdict from Bethany’s inquest comes back as unlawful killing, with no blame attached to the department, Vera raises a glass or three – is this a bad sign of future things to come, or is it just a lapse on her way to sobriety?

Fairground tales like this one rarely throw up more than this common or garden variety of sexual intrigue and casual violence, so there was nothing much here for Vera to get her teeth into, let alone the viewer. True, the repercussions of Bethany’s death may not have made themselves fully felt yet, but the team (with the exception of blundering Kenny) seems to function perfectly well despite being one man down.

Gloomy without being as atmospheric as usual, this episode stayed too long at the fair without winning any giant teddies.

Chris Jenkins

For our episode one review, go here

For all our Vera news and reviews, go here

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