REVIEW Bloodlands (S1 E2/4)

We always put a warning about spoilers in our reviews, and it’s none more important than in this week’s review of Bloodlands, the Northern Irish crime series. There was a killer twist at the end of this instalment that no doubt took your breath away. If you haven’t seen this episode yet, and don’t want to know what happened, look away now.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.

Let’s track back. At the end of episode one, three bodies were found on the island, one of which may or may not have been Tom Brannick’s wife.

As we waited for identification, Tom himself was investigating the Pat Keenan case, and CCTV revealed that he had met a mystery female in the lead-up to his kidnapping. Tom decided to put the squeeze on Keenan, but it backfired – instead, Keenan scared him off by physically intimidating Izzy at a rugby match. A rugby match it should be noted that he attended with Tori, Izzy’s teacher.

Tori, who it was soon to be revealed was some how connected to the original assassination victims.

But Tom had other things on his mind. He went back to Adam Corry’s place after he had noticed two mugs of tea on the kitchen counter. Pleading with the old man for information on Goliath he struck him a deal – tell him who the other mug belonged to and what he knew about the serial killer, and he would take him to the island so he could see his brother’s last resting place.

Corry agreed. As they were on the island, this episode seriously kicked off. After seeing his brother’s grave, Corry wanted to know why Tom had brought him to the island alone. He wanted to know what he was covering up. He wanted to know why he was seemingly covering for Jackie Toomey, who had blocked the original investigation.

During the stand-off, Corry also revealed that his brother had been having an affair with another man’s wife, a woman who had given him a pendant with an owl on it. The same pendant Tom had given Izzy for her birthday, and the same pendant that was seen in the grave, presumably hanging off David Corry’s remains. Corry also told Tom that the pendant had an initial on it: ‘E’ presumably for Emma.

Even when Tom drew his gun I didn’t quite see it coming. I was convinced he was now pointing his gun at Corry because he had struck a nerve about Emma’s infidelity.

When Corry asked him if he was Goliath, I was expecting Tom to say “how very dare you”.

But then Tom Brannick pulled the trigger, telling Corry he would see his brother.

This series looked for all the world to follow well-worn character tropes – the traumatised cop, the endangered daughter, the dodgy boss who covers things up – and even some familiar plotlines.

However, as soon as Tom pulled that trigger and killed Adam Corry, things obviously changed.

It was a very well-concealed twist, and it immediately got me thinking – were there any clues that I missed?

Tom had been fervent in this investigation, because of his wife, we thought. Not so now – he had been fervent in his investigation because he had wanted to stay one step ahead of the investigation, to manipulate it where he could and to slyly (and not so slyly) get rid of evidence when he needed to. Looking back, he had been reluctant – a bit too reluctant – to share information about Goliath with McGovern right at the beginning.

And perhaps those familiar tropes were all part of the game; perhaps they wanted us to think Bloodlands would follow familiar characters and familiar lines of investigation.

No matter. The game has changed, although there’s still something about this series that isn’t making me truly connect to these characters. Something that I can’t quite put my finger on. However, after a really fun and unexpected twist, it’s now a thrilling cat-and-mouse game and the questions are: why did Tom Brannick do it? Is he really Goliath? And where is his wife?

Paul Hirons

Rating: 4 out of 5.


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Keith Oswin says:

    Is his wife actually dead?
    Was his wife Keanan’s mystery woman?
    Is his wife Goliath?


  2. Elizabeth Macpherson says:

    The subtitles keep writing Twomey..
    I was certainly taken by surprise in this episode. So much so I blurted out ‘oh’.
    I think Brannick ‘s wife may have a new identity.


  3. Patty says:

    Episode 2 took me completely by surprise. What I assumed was anger and a bluff shockingly revealed Tom’s character. At all. So where is Brannick’s wife and who killed the three men? One character I sympathize with is Niamh who may be facing a difficult choice down the road.


  4. Patty says:

    *At all = bad editing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jane says:

    How is he going to conceal the body? Surely the Police might need to nip back to the island to double check things? Was the farmer feeding the cows and did he see what happened like last time? Sorry silly questions but they were first things that ran through my head 😄


  6. Ros Bellamy says:

    Tori is the priest’s daughter. She told her mum in the home – they found dad. And that’s why she picked on Tom’s daughter to make friends with, and chatted to him in the first place. I think she’s the mystery woman who started this off, to find out what happened to her father. Remember she’s only just come back to Belfast after years away, so maybe she only recently found out something about Goliath.


  7. Elaine says:

    Paul, you summed it up really well. It felt trope heavy and I was pretty ambivalent towards everyone and everything really, until that moment on the Island, and wow, maybe we now have a good drama on our hands. Let’s see where it goes from here…


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