REVIEW: The Cry (S1 E3/4)

So far, this four-part adaptation of Helen FitzGerald’s The Cry (listen to our podcast with Helen here) has been excellent: a psychological thriller of the highest order. What I mean by psychological thriller is that all those addictive twists and turns we so love in the genre are plentiful – no more so than THE TWIST  at the end of episode two – but it’s backed up by deep characterisation, plausible behaviour and expertly played out character interaction, relationship dynamics and power shifts.

Of course, everything changed at the end of that second episode. Jo and Alistair were now conspirators who were, presumably, responsible for their son’s disappearance. What we didn’t know was what happened, why they did it, and, ultimately, whether baby Noah was alive.

We were about to find out.

The first 10 minutes or so of this penultimate episodes took us back to the moment when Jo and Alistair (and Noah) were heading to Wilde Bay from Melbourne. They had stopped for a break – Alistair to telephone his daughter Chloe to tell them what time they’d be home, and Jo to stretch her legs. When she returned to the car she noticed that Noah had stopped crying and was asleep. She noticed that he was cold to the touch. He wouldn’t wake up. He had no pulse.

Panic set in. He was gone.

This scene was extremely hard to watch, but the way it was shot – mid-distance – was impeccable. Sound editing was incredible (it’s often said that victims of extreme trauma always remember the strangest, smallest details from the moment. Here it was a repeated car door alarm that wafted in and out of earshot and bled into the images), moving images were like dreamscapes, with smoke from the bushfires swirling all around. It was a living nightmare.

It had been an accident, but Alistair was quick to find a solution: it must have been the medicine. Jo had accidentally given the baby some of her medicine by accident at the airport. She was tired and stressed from the flight. It would have been easy to have made a mistake. Jo’s motherhood skills were being called into question once again, this time in the gravest, cruellest way.

But Jo was in shock and in tears and in need of an explanation, too. It could have been her. Memories altered and began to fit Alistair’s version of events. It was her.

And this is what happened to baby Noah.

Alistair tidied things up. He buried the poor mite under a tree on his favourite beach. He concocted a story. He fought fires (the bushfires felt like a clever metaphor for their current situation). He did what he was good at. This was his day job. My initial thought was that Alistair and Jo kidnapped their baby to fit up Alexandra and remove all obstacles in getting Chloe back, but he was covering up an accident to save their skins. Or so he argued. Jo would go to prison for manslaughter, his career would be over and he would never get Chloe back again. He argued it again. Jo wanted to go to the police. He argued his points again.

And so that was their plan.

But what Alistair didn’t bargain on was the bond between mother and son, and, more to the point, a grieving mother and son. The bib that she secretly lifted from the crime scene was sacred to her, but he destroyed it, arguing that all and any kind of evidence of Noah should disappear.

He was turning into an obsessive, manipulative sociopath in front of our very eyes. Jo was furious with him, and was also being crushed by guilt – she still wanted to go to the police, tell the truth and find out what really happened to their son. She still maintained that she did not accidentally mix up the medicines at the airport.

What ensued was almost a battle royale between the two: a psychological war of mistrust and paranoia. It was expertly done and, once again, extremely plausible. How do you carry out a plan like this without feeling shame and guilt? How do you carry on being in a relationship with someone who can be so manipulative, callous and almost enjoying the process of crisis management?

Jo couldn’t.

It was tense, it was heartbreaking and the breakdown of Jo and Alistair’s relationship was, well, not thrilling exactly, but intense and coruscating. You couldn’t take your eyes off it, and, once again, Jenna Coleman’s performance was just sensational – from that stomach-flipping moment she knew something was desperately wrong with her son, to her steely-eyed anger at her husband, her range was very impressive. Of course, Coleman is playing an extremely flawed character, so this gives her the license to flutter from one extreme to the next. But the way she has been doing it has been outstanding. (Ewen Leslie, too, has flipped from caring dad (which he still is, of course) to calculated manipulator has also been praiseworthy.)

With Pete The Policeman and his team now suspecting Alistair and Jo (there was no physical evidence of Noah found at their apartment, which raised their alarm bells), it’s going to be a heck of a final episode: who will break first? Will Jo do the right thing? Will we really find out how Noah died? And what is Alistair prepared to do to not only save his plan, but save the life he has become accustomed to?

It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Paul Hirons





The 10 Best Crime Dramas This Week (Monday 15th – Sunday 21st October)

This week we say farewell to The Cry and No Offence, but say hello to 54 Hours: The Gladbeck Hostage Crisis, a new two-part German hostage drama on BBC Four. Enjoy!

S1 E4/4
Joanna and Alistair try to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of the tragic events, but they cannot avoid drifting further and further apart. An unexpected delivery brings long-buried memories flooding back for Joanna, but the revelation calls everything they thought they knew into question as the truth about their child’s disappearance finally emerges.
Sunday 21st October, 9pm, BBC One

S2 E6/8
Candy shoots her opus, Vincent makes a confession to Abby and Larry gets a promotion.
Tuesday 16th October, 10pm, Sky Atlantic

S1 E6/8
A female assassin is taken into custody in Russia, and Eve and Carolyn head out to Moscow to negotiate access believing she could hold the key to the organisation that runs Villanelle. Meanwhile, Villanelle is smuggled into the same Russian jail – a grim and brutal place where not even she is safe.
Saturday 20th October, 9.25pm, BBC One

S1 E6/10
The Getty family fears the worst when a gruesome discovery is made. Crime drama delving into the trials and triumphs of one of the 20th century’s most iconic dynasties, the Gettys.
Wednesday 17th September, 9pm, BBC Two

5 54 Hours: The Gladbeck Hostage Crisis *NEW UK PREMIERE TWO-PARTER*
S1 E1/2
Two robbers hold up a bank and demand free passage from the police while taking members of staff hostage. However, the attempt to free the hostages results in a series of disastrous mistakes by the police and the media. Fact-based crime drama about a crisis that shocked Germany in the summer of 1988.
Saturday 20th October, 9pm, BBC Four

S1 E5/8
Megan’s last bequest leaves a trail of money that leads Jonah and David straight into the perilous jaws of Third Empire. 
Monday 15th October, 9pm, ITV

S3 E6/6
The unexpected turn of events leaves the team with no option but to go after the mayor and they put a spectacular plan in motion to bring her down once and for all. But Viv’s ingenious strategy is threatened when one of the Friday Street officers is kidnapped.
Thursday 18th October, 9pm, Channel 4

8 Trapped *REPEAT*
S1 E4/8
The police determine the identity of the dead man. Guðmundur warns Hrafn about the likelihood of an avalanche and sets off with dynamite to try to draw the snow down safely. His son, Sigurður, tries to stop him, and Andri follows, but the charge, though initially successful, sets off a second avalanche which engulfs all three men.
BBC iPlayer

S2 E2/10
Yago pulls a risky job to raise cash for Amara, and Louis has a crazy proposition for Gladys.
Thursday 18th October, 9pm, Sky Atlantic

10 The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair *NEW UK PREMIERE EPISODE*
S1 E7/10
Marcus continues his search for clues as to what happened to Nola back in 1975, as his mentor’s freedom hangs in the balance.
Tuesday 16th October, 10pm, Sky Witness

REVIEW: Killing Eve (S1 E5/8)

A tipping point has been reached: Villanelle is out in the open, and Eve has a source of information on the master plan. But the game’s hardly finished; so what tricks does the psycho assassin still have up her elegantly coutured sleeve?

Now that Frank has been exposed as the mole – no surprise there – we could assume that Villanelle will be on the back foot, and that her capture will be inevitable. But initially, she still seems to be in control. Despite Eve’s audacious decision to stop the car and confront her, she gives nothing away; she could easily have killed the unarmed Eve, Frank and Elena (clearly the most poorly-equipped spies in history), but instead shoots wide, and disappears.

What was Eve trying to do? Talk Villanelle into turning herself in? We’ve no evidence that’s what she wants to do – she enjoys her job too much. What could Eve possibly offer her – a desk job and a pension?

Nonetheless, the fact that Villanelle doesn’t shoot – not even to finish off Frank – indicates that she has another agenda. Is it that she wants Eve to track down and eliminate her bosses? That would make sense, and would play along with Eve’s ambitions.

But Eve’s first job is to get some info out of the spineless Frank, which she proceeds to do in the grottiest safe house you could ever imagine. Would they put an important politician or defector there? Mind you, Frank’s tastes, for motorway burgers with brown sauce, don’t seem too sophisticated. James Bond would have fingered him for a wrong ‘un in moments.

While Frank produces the name Oksana (which surely wouldn’t be much help – it’s a very popular Russian and Ukrainian name), he’s not immediately more forthcoming.

While you or I might be tempted to pull out his fingernails, Carolyn realises that he’ll respond better to a cuddle – Frank must be sort of public school milksop brought up by a nanny. Anyway, it works, and he reveals what he knows about the conspiracy known as The Twelve, and how they suborned him by paying for his (now dead) wife’s medical expenses.

But his claim that Villanelle’s missions are planned to destabilise governments and to cause chaos doesn’t quite ring true – all the victims so far seem relatively insignificant. Kill one minor official, and another one takes his place. So what’s the real plan? Presumably even Villanelle doesn’t know – so would Konstantin?

And is the fact that Villanelle and her handler are Russian at all significant? Is the implication that they are state-sponsored, or are The Twelve independent of national allegiances? Frank may blame his government for his position, but how much more chaotic could our country really be right now?

After the debriefing, Eve takes the extraordinary decision to get a bus back to the office – where exactly is this safe house? – the bus stop is spring Grove, near Buckhurst Hill in North West London – but, understandably, she has a bit of a post-traumatic moment.

Kenny has made good progress with Eve’s suitcase, which is covered with Villanelle’s DNA – obviously she doesn’t care if anyone finds it, not surprisingly, as a trawl of criminal records reveals that the prime suspect, a murderess called Oksana Astankova, is supposedly dead. She’s clearly a bit nutty – she killed a man and ‘chopped his knob off’, as well as committing arson and manslaughter of a minor – but presumably the GRU recruited her, and faked her death. So far, so Nikita.

As Eve studies Oksana’s rap sheet and tries on her clothes at home, to no-one’s surprise, she appears like a bad genie. After a rather un-Bondian fight in the bathroom, the two bond over a shepherd’s pie dinner.

Oksana knows Eve won’t be taken in by a little-girl-lost routine, but she goes through it for show; Eve knows that Oksana might kill her, even though she’s supposed to be just watching her. But does any of Oksana’s claim that they are ultimately working for the same people chime with Eve?

After a rather tense parting, Eve goes to Carolyn’s home, only to find Kenny there – turns out, he’s her son. Did we suspect that? Well, we thought there was more to Kenny than met the eye, but that wasn’t an immediately obvious leap.

Tracing Frank’s safe house from Eve’s phone (was that Oksana’s actual motive for going to Eve’s house?), Oksana easily despatches the inept minder, and finishes off the cowering Frank, including dressing him in Eve’s gown and chopping his knob off. Cut to a shot of sizzling sausages – oh, how we laughed! Well, that’s put us out of his misery.

By the time Carolyn turns up with the slowest armed response team in the country, Oksana is long gone.

Her explanation of events in England doesn’t convince Konstantin, particularly as he reveals that Nadia is still alive, got back to Russia, and needs finishing off. Bevealing that she knows about The Twelve, Oksana (I think we can call her that now) puts herself further out on a limb.

Well, this episode finally gives us what the series has been promising, a face-to-face confrontation between Eve and Oksana, heavy with lesbian overtones and psychological wrestling. But in terms of thriller cliché, it’s now wading into deep waters. Apart from Frank’s obsession with brown sauce, and Oksana’s with chopping off people’s knobs, this could have been any espionage thriller. Surprisingly, considering the episode was written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, with its overtones of global conspiracy and almost conventional backstory for Oksana, the plot sails perilously close to conventionality.

Next week, when the team follows Oksana to Russia, maybe things will get peculiar again – after all, if there’s anything we’ve learned from recent world events, it’s that Russia and reality are only distantly connected.

Chris Jenkins