Review: Trauma (S1 E2/3), Tuesday 13th February, ITV


Mike ‘Doctor Foster’ Bartlett’s three-part psychological drama is stripped across three days this week, which is just as well because I don’t think I could take a full, six-parter of this tosh. I mean, it has John Simm and Adrian Lester in it, who are both fine actors, but the premise is as far-fetched as you can possibly get. And yet… and yet… it does have an addictive quality, and the same kind of fractious relationship at its heart that Bartlett seems to revel in. One of the questions this begs is: why do we enjoy watching people do bad things to each other so much?

The second episode continued as the first episode did – Daniel Bowker (Simm) acting irrationally and like a psycho, ramping up his confrontation with John Allerton (Lester), the surgeon who he blamed for the death of his son on the operating table.

Bowker had taken a job at the same hospital Allerton works at and, somehow, managed to wander in on a debrief, where Allerton and his superiors reviewed all deaths that occur in the hospital. There was no reason for concern here, as Allerton calmly explained the details of poor Alex Bowker’s tragic death. And yet, hearing all of these facts, Bowker still carried forward his complaint to the hospital. Allerton was now being investigated formally.

Those screaming at the screen for Bowker to focus more on his family and finding the teen who murdered his son, were not alone – I was doing it, too. Any sympathy you had for Bowker, his family and the circumstance he found himself in kind of flew out the window within minutes of this episode: psycho stalking and insistence on ignoring facts does nothing to make us warm to his character.

And yet, in the face of all this irrationality, Allerton wasn’t exactly playing a blinder, either. He went to visit Daniel Bowker’s wife, Susie (why?), to ask her to have a world her husband. This had consequences: Bowker then went to visit Allerton’s wife, under the pretence that he needed psychological treatment (he does, obviously, but that wasn’t the reason he went) and then, at the end of the episode, was seen washing a knife in his home sink and then paying Allerton’s daughter a visit.

Allerton’s daughter. Oh GOD.

Trauma is displaying exactly the same elements I didn’t like about Doctor Foster – screwed up people doing bad things to each other until something terrible happens. Every line, every set piece is designed to stress you out and wilfully, almost gleefully so. There just doesn’t seem to be a point to it all.

It’s just not a very enjoyable experience.

Paul Hirons

For our episode one review, go here

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Andy D says:

    I never got on with Doctor Foster but it was hugely popular. Gave the first episode of this a whirl and switched off rapidly. I just find this type of drama overwhelmingly unrealistic, kind of a post-watershed soap opera.


  2. Maria Josephine McKenzie says:

    I just get the feeling that both John Simm and Adrian Lester are rather uncomfortable in their roles, and I can’t believe in the surgeon’s family. There’s a strange awkwardness to them all. Still after last night’s cliffhanger I must watch the last part. Surely he won’t attack the surgeon’s daughter with that nasty looking knife as a revenge. His indifference to the policewoman’s account about the murderer was chilling. I don’t know how realistic is his incapacity to see that the actual murderer is the reason for his son’s death whatever happened afterwards. He doesn’t seem to blame him at all.


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