To bowdlerise Philip Larkin: they screw you up, your mum and dad; they may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had, and add some extra, just for you.
Mothers and fathers and that fateful inheritance that can blight or boost your life has often played a part in investigations in Unforgotten. And, as our current crop of suspects are distinguished by having difficult familial relationships (just like our heroes DCI Cassie Stuart (Nicola Walker) and DS Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar), so relations could be significant in the 30-year-old Matthew Walsh murder case.
Our duo now knows that the main suspect, the recently deceased Robert Fogerty, was a newly qualified PC nicked for late-night drink-driving while carousing after the passing-out ceremony with four other probationers from Hendon Police College. After getting insight about the passengers from the retired officer who arrested Fogarty, Cassie clearly has the bit between her teeth again and is raring to go (well, if she can ever get her feckless son Adam (Jassa Ahluwalia) out of bed). The brighter spot in her home life is live-in lover John Bentley (Alastair Mackenzie), the former DCI whom Cassie met during series three (while investigating the murder of teenager Hayley Reid).
DS Murray Boulting (Jordan Long) has tracked down Walsh’s next of kin, son Jerome (James Craze), child of a dead father and a doomed heroin addict, who seems gainfully employed and not inclined to talk to Cassie about his parents, lest it should infect his own family.
Meanwhile, the four live suspects are all having problems. Expectant father and vice squad DCI Ram Sidhu (Phaldut Sharma) is less jubilant after his wife’s antenatal scan reveals a possibility of foetal abnormality and a clash with his superior officer over accusations of sexual harassment; therapist Fiona Grayson (Liz White) has paid a clandestine visit to her policeman father’s grave; businessman Dean Barton (Andy Nyman) seems to have a dodgy smuggling sideline under duress from a old acquaintance; and gay cop Liz Baildon (Susan Lynch) has a violent confrontation with a motorbike thief while on the way to her interview for the position of chief constable.
Tension between the generations is raised in Cassie’s family as dad Martin (Peter Egan), seemingly manipulated by girlfriend/carer Jenny (Janet Dibley), no longer wants to leave his half of the house sale proceeds in trust to grandson Adam.
Parental cruelty is a running theme here as Baildon’s mother Eileen (Sheila Hancock) holds her daughter in thrall. Is she just dismissive and cold to Liz for turning her back on a high-flying academic career – graduating from Oxford only to become a plod? Well, that’s hardly enough motive to scare her carer Eugenia (Mina Andala) with the revelation that if she knew about Liz’s past it would “turn your hair grey”. Wow – thanks, mum.
Student files unearthed at Hendon yield the names of the probationers, giving Cassie and Sunny the leads they need and some digging by DC Fran Lingley (Carolina Main) relays an eyewitness statement about the night of Walsh’s death that says a young Asian man was pursuing him.
Cassie’s decision to sanction a broadcast appeal for more witnesses alerted the suspects; what will this set in train? Cassie is more worried about how she will react to investigating fellow officers and she makes Sunny promise to keep her on the rails, warning him: “There is a small piece of me that wants to punish someone.” Cue Sunny’s expression of abject fear.
He knows her so well that he really doesn’t need hear her say that solving this case will help to exorcise the chronic insomnia that the Finch murder case is still causing her.
Writer Chris Lang needs so few word of exposition on motive between his lead characters – the bond between them is resoundingly clear. Again, we can only marvel at the chemistry between Walker and Bhaskar as they shift smoothly into top gear.
READ MORE: OUR REVIEW OF EPISODE ONE