REVIEW: Unforgotten (S3 E6/6)

The death of suspect Peter Carr on her watch was a punch to the solar plexus Cassie (Nicola Walker) was not ready for. As her guilt drags her down, sidekick Sunny (Sanjeev Bhaskar) has regained his customary haunted, confused demeanour as he watches his beloved colleague’s spirits circle the mental drain.

Since the police raid on his knicker drawers at the end of the last episode turned up some worrying material for the path lab, we’ve become more circumspect about the true bedside manner of Dr Tim Finch (Alex Jennings). He seems the most intractable liar of the lot (ladies, have you ever tied up your hair with your panties? Thought not); he’s certainly had a lot of practice at deception and his attitudes to women leave much to be desired.

However, this series has really led both the audience and the police up the garden path; as creator and writer Chris Lang said this past week after surveying the flurry of theories on Twitter: “No one is anywhere near it at all.”

Dead Hayley Reid’s mum (Brid Brennan) seems more distraught for daughter Jessica (Bronagh Waugh) as they make their way to London to see Cassie, although she’s together enough to assure the police that the items found at the Finch home were not Hayley’s.

However, they did belong to another teenage girl, Allison Baldwin, who had been raped and strangled in 1997- three years eariler than Hayley – in woods in Cambridgeshire. Cassie decides to do a sweep of similar murders in Finch’s locale and sets about detailing the task to the squad while visibly falling apart emotionally – trusty Sunny jumps in to cut short her humiliation.

The pressure is getting to her as her own kids aren’t calling her. When John Bentley leaves her a text to ask if she needs help, she deletes him from her contacts; probably just as well for the moment, Cassie doesn’t need the complications.

The teamwork that follows pays off in that a spare wheel from Finch’s old Audi is found buried behind the holiday cottage in Middenham and a surgery diary entry is discovered that places him in a hotel near where Allison’s body was found.

Under interrogation, those snake eyes flashing, Finch admits he killed the girls and offers to tell Cassie and Sunny what happened to “the other girls”,  how they died and where they are buried – as long as they “can avoid  turning it into some sort of sordid circus”.

Relations between James Hollis (Kevin McNally) and his son Elliot (Tom Rhys Harries) might be forever torn, but there is something of a rapprochement between Hollis and ex-wife Mel (Sara Stewart); she says Elliot has to own his mistakes, and she urges him to mend his lothario ways and win back his current wife, Amy, whom she describes as “a good’un”.

Alone among our suspects Chris Lowe (James Fleet) now seems to be, er, home and dry (sorry that’s the last of our Pet Shop Boys silliness). He has been a blameless victim – is he now free to make a new life with Jamilla (Sasha Behar) and her young son? Rather depends on why she has nipped up to London to talk to the police on the Landmark paedophilia case.

Finch emerges as a true sociopath – he describes himself a ‘textbook psychopath’ in forensic detail (probably the first we have been presented with in any of these series) as he shows no remorse for the killings he says he’s committed. He admits to Cassie that pretence of friendships and feelings for patients has been ‘second nature’ to him all his life. Hayley was, he says nonchalantly, in the “wrong time, wrong place” and the opportunity “seemed too good to miss”. All his answers come with a half-smile to wind up his interrogators. Cassie is displaying such torment that we wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d jabbed her pen in his eye. As Sunny says afterwards, it’s the closest thing to evil they’ve ever witnessed.

Hollis and Lowe, the remains of our four amigos, sit wordlessly opposite each other in a pub following the TV news of the charges against Finch. Their lives shattered, they must now pick up the pieces, a process they seem to have begun by the time of Carr’s funeral as Jamilla is expecting a baby.

While the home front looks empty and bleak for Cassie, at Sunny’s place things are definitely looking more hopeful. His daughters give his new relationship their blessing because as much as they love their mother, they prefer to see Dad happy. It’s cuddles all round in the Khan household while Cassie surveys her empty kitchen.

It always bodes ill when a suspect is taken under guard to the scene of the crime; this is a gruesome procedure for Cassie, who snaps and runs away when the remains of a third body are found. “No more”, she murmurs. After stalking around aimlessly in the rain before going home, she finds Martin (Peter Egan) in an emollient mood and decides to heed his advice to take time off.

Three months later, awaiting trial on remand, Finch does his best Hannibal Lecter when Sunny and DC Fran Lingley (Caroline Main) visit. He’s angling for more books in prison and  Sunny tells him that he needs more information first – quid pro quo. Finch needles Sunny about Cassie’s departure. “Spare us the ‘Silence of The Lambs’ schtick next time” adds Sunny. It isn’t a nice Chianti that Finch then offers, but information about the location of another victim. We suspect that there will be many more. As a GP, he has been hiding in plain sight for many years. Oh, well, Harold Shipman was a family doctor too.

As Jessica and her mother find a bright spot for Hayley’s burial, they are joined by Sunny and Cassie (who seems to have rekindled her fledgling relationship with Bentley – good, perhaps he’ll persuade her not to put her papers in quite yet).

Having dissected how the lies and misconceptions of the past resonate with our present in series one, and the concept of natural justice in the second, in series 3 Lang addresses the effects of social media on the febrile psychological state of our nation post-Jo Cox and the Brexit vote, in which a few well-aimed malicious postings can foment hatred and violence.

He’s also brought his lead characters face to face with the heart of darkness; the first ‘real’ murderer we have seen them deal with rather than the unfortunate killers we’ve met in the previous two series. But he’s avoided the sensationalist tropes that many other cop series fall into; murderers are usually banal and that is exactly how Finch is portrayed.

Walker and Bhaskar now play the TV cops nonpareil; the characters intuit each other’s thoughts and interact without any flashiness because they’ve worked closely together for some time, and these fine actors are able to effortlessly convey this camaraderie. Please, Mr Lang, let us have more Cassie and Sunny – we’ve really only scratched the surface of their gifts. And please let Cassie keep a bloke for a while.

Deborah Shrewsbury







8 Comments Add yours

  1. Elizabeth Macpherson says:

    I really enjoyed the series & reading the reviews. Please can we have more Unforgotten?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you kindly, madam!
      And since I wrote this we’ve heard that they are indeed coming back!
      Doncha just love them?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Seija says:

    A great series 3, and N.W. as excellent as ever in the previous ones. I truly hope this won’t be the end of the whole series!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Andy D says:

    It’s been amusing to go below the line on other articles about this – those who felt Season Two had an ambivalent ending felt this one was too conclusive! Twitter was still switching allegiances every ad break and expecting further twists right until the end, which is the sign of good writing that people were still guessing. Personally I was absolutely mesmerized by Jennings’ performance, which chilled me to the bone. His sadistic arrogance and pleasure in making Cassie uncomfortable was hard to watch. I was afraid when they took him to the dig site he’d try and abscond with Cassie as a hostage! But then I remembered Unforgotten isn’t about melodrama – it’s about ordinary people put in extraordinary situations. As much as I love it, I do wonder how far it can go as a concept. Lang himself says he has enough ideas for maybe three more series in him, but you do think when does the formula start repeating itself. I have to say though Nicola Walker is a hell of an actor, she really takes you with her on each season’s journey right to the emotional core of the story. She’s a joy to watch act.


    1. I agree with you on almost every point – but I could take a lot more of Lang, Bhaskar and ‘Dame’ Nicola.


  4. Seija says:

    What you said, Andy D. I was thinking about the ‘concept’ of this series myself, whether it can continue and what if N.W. steps out of it as this article, for intance, vaguely suggest ? Although Sanjeev Bhaskar is good, too, the series would not be the same without Nicola Walker. Also, I disagree with Chris Lang when he says that “the thing that people relate to most in this show is the format”, at least for me it’s mostly the actors in this series. They make the show.


  5. Sue Bluttman says:

    Brilliant ending to this series. Finest actors anywhere. More please. And a really fine analysis of this last episode by Deborah Shrewsbury. Good writing!


    1. Thank you – will try to do more if I have the time!


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