Review: Rellik (S1 E3/6), Monday 25th September, BBC One


This Harry and Jack Williams series has, so far, been a test of patience more than anything else. The two opening episodes presented us with a serial ‘acid’ killer case, told backwards. With plenty of what seemed to be scenes that didn’t make sense placed within a structure that was bold but not quite genius (some would call it irritating), Rellik was in danger of existing in a kind of limbo state: very pleased its clever plotting, but ultimately not that satisfying. Until this third episode.

This episode very much concentrated on the families of two characters – Gabriel Markham and the shady-looking Patrick Barber, who, in previous episodes, was seen running away from London in a panic. Because of his desperate need to get away from the situation (although we weren’t sure what situation) it had been an easy to assumption to make that he was a major suspect in the investigation of the acid killer.

Let’s concentrate on Markham first, who was, once again, stomping around the place with acrid aggression and bitter anger. We’ve known for a while that something had happened to his daughter, who I was fairly certain was someone called Hannah. We’d seen glimpses of her in the little flashback sequences, writhing and getting down and dirty in what looked like a club with a man of equal levels of inebriation. We traced her story back in this episode, Markham gradually finding out that firstly a) she was in a bad way after something bad had happened to her; then b) she was missing and, finally, c) where she would be. Eventually, Markham did catch up with her in the basement of a club, where he rescued her from the clutches of some men who were about to have sex with her. What was interesting about this development was not necessarily Hannah’s plight, but the reasons why she was intent on getting ‘fucked up’ – she had not only found out about her father’s affair but something else about him. When he was (aggressively, as per) questioning Hannah’s friend Cassie about her whereabouts, she had told Markham that Hannah knew the truth about him. As Elaine noted afterwards, he looked terrified that something terrible about his past was about to be revealed. When Cassie mentioned the affair, Markham looked relieved. So what else was Markham hiding?

Elsewhere, we were about to have Patrick Barber’s place in the story explained to us. As I’ve mentioned previously, we’ve only ever seen him running away – why he had been running and who he was we still weren’t sure.

As if to build the suspicion around him more, we saw him in his flash apartment, newspapers screaming with headlines about the acid killer strewn all around. We saw the concierge in his apartment block questioned by Markham’s colleagues about Barber’s relationship with his wife, saying that they were both seen and arguing as she stormed out of the building; then, after a flashback, Barber cleaning up in the bathroom; then Barber covered in blood; and then Markham and Elaine view a body placed in a playground, her face scorched by acid. Except Markham didn’t like the look of this victim – he thought the acid patterns didn’t match and had a hunch that they might be looking for two killers.

He was right.

In came the zinger. We saw Rebecca Barber returning home after a trip away, only to walk in on her husband and his young lover having sex. “You don’t understand, mum,” wept the young woman.

Yikes. Barber had been boffing his step-daughter.

Furthermore, in the row that ensued Sally – her daughter – took a blunt object and clubbed her mother to death. Suddenly, in one narrative strand, Rellik’s messiness and seemingly random Jackson Pollocking all made complete sense. It was wonderfully plotted, wonderfully revealed and had maximum shock impact. The first two episodes had built up Patrick Barber as the main suspect, but this reveal exonerated him from one crime while explaining his shifty movements and culpability in another.

And I get the impression, now we’re half way through, more of those strands will begin to come together. We’ll find out what Lisa Markham did that has so enraged her husband, we’ll no doubt find out what Markham himself is really about, what Christine’s game is (we saw her briefly in this episode, being interviewed by Isaac Taylor) and witness the acid attack on Markham. There’s a lot of backstory within the investigating team itself, so I’m expecting some of these storylines to develop, too.

It’s all beginning to come together, really. Rellik always had the feel of a series that needed to be stuck with, and for viewers to show some patience. If the next three episodes are anything like this, we’ll be rewarded.

Paul Hirons

For our episode one review go here

For our episode two review go here



5 Comments Add yours

  1. MikeB says:

    It’s warming up nicely.


  2. Sara Latham says:

    A bit behind on this one, as usual, but I’m enjoying it. The rewind stuff is clever and keeps you on your toes 😊


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