This series has been so good in lots of different ways – from the punchy, briney dialogue (I’ve recently finished reading Richard Price’s The Whites, which is highly recommended) to the characterisation, giving each of the main players depth, quirks and believable layers, not to mention the idea that characters and personalities change and adapt to crime and new surroundings.
This penultimate episode felt like a bit of a letdown. Of course, there was still plenty of good stuff in here, and generally this series has been fantastic, but tonight felt a bit different. Whether this was because we were nearing the climax of the story and there was a quickening, but things felt choppier and less consistent than before. That has been one of the hallmarks of this show: consistency. Consistency of pace, of dialogue and of atmosphere. But here, as evidence was hastily gathered and the emotional fall-out from the case took hold, scenes were noticeably shorter – some were poignant, but some were hollow – and action flitted between the courtroom and the streets joltingly. It was if the finishing line was in sight and the writers couldn’t wait to get there.
Outside of the courtroom John Stone was busy. He was following up the lead of Andrea’s money-grabbing stepfather Don Taylor – an investigation that saw him come face to face with a flirtatious older woman who had married Taylor and was abused by Taylor – and then experienced a mini-hallelujah moment when he realised that Box had given Naz back his inhaler, an object from the crime scene. Chandra, cool and calm, and showing a sly, ruthless side to her during her examinations, was beginning to score points as she tried to undermine the prosecution’s assertions. She had interrogated the drug dealer who sold Andrea ketamine and MDMA, thus undermining her character and showing the jury she was a frequent drug user, and she had talked to a wily forensics expert who confirmed that Naz and Andrea had played the stabby game before she was murdered (when Helen cross-examined the forensics man, it was more like a flirtatious dance).
And then it was Box’s turn. Brilliant, surly but human Box, the man who was 98 per cent sure Naz did it but still retained that infinitesimal element of doubt, was ruthlessly probed by Chandra, who questioned his integrity after he gave Naz back that piece of evidence – his inhaler – from the crime scene. It undermined him and his methods, proving that the king of his own world struggled to adapt to the rules of the courtroom.
But Chandra herself didn’t escape compromising behaviour. In a moment of weakness, when she was comforting Naz in his jail cell, she leaned in for a kiss. Some people like when leads become emotionally involved, some people don’t. I’m not sure what I felt about this romantic dimension. Yes. there has always been a bond between them and yes, she pulled away realising her mistake quickly, but it didn’t quite strike the right note. A rookie mistake by Chandra? Or a layer of emotion and sympathy in an otherwise grim world?
As for Box, we said farewell to a wonderful character, who, after 30 years in the job, was left to stare wistfully out of a bar window after his retirement party. He was alone; bereft. Elsewhere, John Stone was aching for companionship as he trawled the streets and tried to reach out to his estranged son. These two grizzled veterans of the streets had been eaten whole, consumed by the city.
For our episode one review, go here
For our episode two review, go here
For our episode three review, go here
For our episodes four and five review, go here
For our episode six review, go here