Review: One Of Us (S1 E2/4), Tuesday 30th August, BBC1

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 23/08/2016 - Programme Name: One of Us - TX: 30/08/2016 - Episode: n/a (No. 2) - Picture Shows: Rob Elliot (JOE DEMPSIE) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Alan Peebles
(C) BBC – Photographer: Alan Peebles

Last week’s opening episode of One Of Us sped by in a flash, offering up a moral conundrum: if you suddenly played host to a wounded man who you knew had killed your son and daughter (or brother), would you nurse him back to health or finish him off, serving him the type of justice he deserves? The Douglas and Elliot families decided – or at least one of them did – to take the latter course of action, which turned this grim-faced crime drama into a whodunit.

NB: Spoilers abound

I agree with one particular constructive criticism of that opening episode: there could and perhaps should have been more interaction between Lee Walsh (the wounded man) and the families, to build up tension between them even more, to humanise Walsh a bit more and, in turn, make his death even more shocking. But that moot point was long gone as this episode started to hurtle once again down the chute of finger pointing and paranoia.

And sure enough, the layers began to unfurl steadily but surely. The Douglasses and the Elliots were still cooped up on the farm, not sure what to do in the aftermath of the killing of Lee Walsh (the man who supposedly killed Adam and Grace). Once again Rob was aggressively in favour of covering things up, and that Walsh got what was coming to him; Bill was also in favour of covering things up, and so was Moira, who was still spitting with rage at pretty everyone, especially her teenage son Jamie; Louise also had a wide-eyed notion that Walsh got his just desserts; as did Anna.

It was interesting to watch thr group make things up as they went along, going past that tipping point when humans become killers, the power and control they feel. Reasonable, intelligent people who have been backed into a corner and lash out, the animal lust overtaking them; the red mist descending down over their eyes. Interactions between them change, suspicion begins to take over everything, and self-preservation becomes imperative. What started off as a group decision has quickly become survival of the fittest.

When they do finally decide to dispose of the body, they’re heartbroken and disgusted with themselves but also mindful of the fact they are what’s necessary, almost unaware of the consequences.

But we also got the setting up of suspects episode two. Rob, the most aggressive of the characters, was still being presented as the most likely. We found out that his rage and his ideas of justice sprang from an incident involving his partner Anna – she was raped, and the perpetrator is still walking the streets. This naturally still enrages him, so when the opportunity came to mete out some sort of revenge… well, he didn’t need to be asked twice. We were being led to believe that this angry man had it in him to kill. There was a moment when Anna stuffed his clothes into a washing machine, and the camera lingered accusingly as the drum frothed and spun. If that wasn’t enough, Louise found a charred and bloody knife in the fireplace in Rob’s room.

It’s a classic set-up, and those suspects just kept on coming. Rob almost certainly didn’t do it.

After Lee Walsh’s body was disposed of, we began to learn more about the periphery characters. We learned why DI Juliet Wallace sold a stash of acid to a local dealer – to help fund a crucial operation for her sick daughter (although there were tragic consequences to her actions) – and that Claire and Rob’s father had received a phone call from Adam shortly before he died, asking for help. Bill Douglas, too, was revealed to be suffering from the shakes, the obvious onset of a neurological condition. His helper Alastair had asked for some cash to keep schtum about the whole thing.

But Wallace and her partner DS Barker were starting to ask questions, especially about some of the families’ inconsistent statements.

If I were to bet on one of the family members crumbling under the pressure, it would be Claire, who once again acted as The Moral Conscience in the whole piece – she was scornful of Rob leaving to go home, disdainful of the families’ disposing of Walsh’s body and pretty much the only family member to feel overcome with grief for her dead brother and sister-in-law.

Which, obviously, puts her in the frame to be the murderer.

Paul Hirons

For our episode one review, go here

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