Review: Rellik (S1 E2/6), Monday 18th September, BBC One

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NB: SPOILERS INSIDE

Last week’s opening episode presented us with a tricksy and challenging viewing experience – Rellik’s story started at the end and worked backwards thanks to a series of rewinds and flashbacks. Many won’t have enjoyed this, and the jury was out for me, too. On the one hand, Rellik could be a daring, bold telling of what is a fairly by-the-numbers procedural story, that flips our consumption of information and clues on its head; or it could be based on a gimmick that doesn’t actually work. I still couldn’t decide which side it fell on after this second episode.

Much of the first part of the episode featured Christine, who we saw in the first episode, scarred by an acid attacker. Markham was convinced she was a suspect back then, and his – overly aggressive – suspicion continued in this episode. We saw Christine first wandering the streets, barefoot, and in some kind of spaced-out reverie. What had happened to her? Thanks to the structure of this series, we soon sped back in time to find out. There was talk of a stolen laptop (what laptop?), a laptop she had destroyed. We found out, in flashbacks, that Christine had broken into psychotherapist Isaac Taylor’s office (we didn’t see this until the end of the episode), and nicked his laptop, which contained recorded files of her sessions with him; incriminating sessions, where she had told him that ‘she had killed them’. When Markham and the gang had seen her on CCTV leave Taylor’s office they had brought her in, with the laptop. She promptly set fire to the office and destroyed the lappie.

Which was fair all enough, but this segment of the story was told in such an arse-about-tit way (technical term), that we already knew that the laptop had been destroyed right off the bat and probably by Christine. When it was revealed that she had indeed destroyed the laptop, there was no impact or shock because we knew it had already happened. That’s the problem with this sort of backwards structure.

Other bits worthy of note? Markham and Elaine’s relationship. Elaine (Jodi Belfour) lived in a very swish apartment and we saw her at a funeral. She drove away from it in a silver sports car, like a character from a super-cool 1960s detective series. My first reaction to this was to question how on earth she could afford such affectations and lifestyle on a copper’s salary. It turned out that the car was her late father’s and that she hated him, and was keen to get rid of the car immediately after the funeral for a knock-down price. But the way her backstory was introduced and the way she was framed by the camera (and the way she squirted tomato ketchup on a bowl of spaghetti in a restaurant almost with alien detachment) suggested that there was more to Elaine than meets the eye.

There were other things of course – Markham’s deteriorating relationship with his wife, his own relationship with his new face and the way he was suddenly having to deal with prying eyes, judgment and constant pain.

And, of course, there were the flashbacks. Each little rewind sequence seemed to contain new pieces of imagery, new information. Who are the young couple writhing and dancing lasciviously? Who was the man with the glasses who did a runner? Who is the Hannah that Markham mentioned to Elaine in one of their many breaking-up speeches? I’m convinced that the clues to this riddle, this mystery, lay in these sequences, although I’m struggling to keep up with the timeframes – 15 hours here, five hours there… are we talking 15 hours from the captured of Steven Mills, or 15 hours from the last flashback? It’s beginning to become difficult to follow. One moment we’re seeing Elaine and Markham break up, and then the next we see them boffing. It all adds to the intrigue and discombobulation, I suppose.

And so Rellik goes, flipping the way we consume and enjoy crime dramas on its head. It’s challenging, which is a good thing, but the structure is starting to grate a little and I found myself wondering after this episode how long it’ll be before I stop caring about who the real acid killer is. Or was. Or will be. Oh, I don’t know anymore.

Paul Hirons
@Son_Of_Ray

For our episode one review, go here

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