Review: In The Dark (S1 E2/4), Tuesday 18th July, BBC1

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Helen Weeks is under severe pressure, that’s for sure. Not only has she returned to her hometown of Polesford and dug herself into a case of two abducted local children, stepping on the local force’s toes as a result, but pregnant Helen is also hiding not one, but two secrets: one, the baby’s she carrying is probably not her partner Paul’s; and two… well you’ll have to read after the jump.

NB: Spoilers inside

…she had been abused as a child. This was the big news as the second part of Time Of Death evolved. That she and Linda Bates, the one that she returned home to help, were sexually abused when they were children by a prominent local councillor.

As for the case, suspects were still thin on the ground. We had been presented with Gavin, husband of Helen’s annoying schoolhood friend, who had been acting shiftily, and then there was Steve Bates himself, currently under lock and key and the local police’s prime suspect. But that was about it. Enter stage left pathologist Phil Hendricks, who not only added a bit of dash and flair to proceedings but also some crucial narrative propellers. He informed Helen and Paul that, thanks to sweet-talking his way into accessing and seeing the body, three different types of insect had been found inside it. Not only that, he thought that they had been placed inside her deliberately. This led them to the local pig farmer, who had reported his pigs stolen to all and sundry in the pub.

So suddenly they had a macabre lead. Where would it take them to?Well, there were still plenty of shifty-looking people in the pub, and this seemed to be the only source of the murderer.

They got some more luck when a young woman approached Helen (when she was on the loo, no less) and told her that Steve Bates had been with her the night of the young girl’s murder. She was 16 that night, confirming that Steve liked young girls on the cusp of legality. “Given the circumstance, I’d rather he be a shagger than a murderer,” she told an understandably upset Linda.

It also emerged that this young woman was the granddaughter of the man who sexually abused both Helen and Linda back in the day.

There has been some criticism of Helen online, saying that she seems to be in a perpetual state of weeping. But really, if this were true (and it wasn’t), you could hardly blame her.

And then the double whammy: Paul, who demanded to know what was wrong and why she had been acting strangely ever since she had come to Polesford, got his answers. But also more than he bargained for.

Everything came out. The abuse by Peter Harcross, and the subsequent blackmail techniques he used to keep her quiet. He got to Linda through Helen. She had been guilt, self-loathing and anger ever since. And when she tried to explain that this abuse had fucked up every relationship in her life since, she then admitted to a staggered Paul she had had an affair.

Understandably, he was not happy. She was on her own, but not for too long.

This sequence here added real depth to the characters, and also layers of believability and nuance to the whole story: it turned out that bearing her soul to Paul triggered an onslaught of memories; one memory begot another. As she sat in her car in tears, a flicker of what Peter Harcross’s granddaughter had said to her. Something about a tattoo Abigail had that no one else knew about. The same tattoo pub landlord Trevor had told them about.

They had their man.

What followed was a frantic race against time to find Trevor and to find Abigail. All of it suddenly made sense, and Helen and a still upset Paul had great fun explaining it all to us in the car as they went to apprehend him.

As a two-part story In The Dark was satisfying and a solid, pacey watch: we had cliff-hangers; we had a few mild twists; and we had a dramatic ending with a plausible conclusion. It was by-the-numbers in the sense that it delivered everything we want from a good whodunit, and because of this, it felt like something familiar and reassuring and immensely watchable. It told a good story with strong characters and had good acting at its heart. What will happen now to Helen and Paul now all her demons have been revealed is anyone’s guess.

Paul Hirons
@Son_Of_Ray

For our episode one review go here

For our interview with MyAnna Buring go here

 

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