In this respect, Manhunt The Night Stalker reminded me of those classic tales of American serial killers of who terrified whole neighbourhoods in the 1970s and 80s. Son Of Sam, the Golden State Killer (check out the late Michelle McNamara’s book and documentary series I’ll Be Gone In The Dark), these deranged men caused panic and paranoia. Minstead Man proved that the UK was not immune to such horrendous individuals.
However, and back to the drama, the way he was caught was slightly surprising. Throughout this series Sutton was being built up almost as a supercop, certainly by his peers. So even though it was following the real story closely, it still felt brave to remove Sutton from the moment Minstead Man was caught.
Sutton, so exhausted by his all-night shifts, was relieved of his duties and spent the night asleep. Until he got that phone call from Nathan at Central 3000. (Central 3000, I still can’t get over that name.)
When it all did kick off – a spotting of a grey Vauxhall Safira, initially partially obscured by another car so they couldn’t be completely sure; a coordinated following of the driver who had emerged from the same street where a tell-tale burglary had been reported; and leaving it until they were outside the surveillance jurisdiction as not to blow their cover – it was thrilling. Quietly, creepingly thrilling.
A man who was worried about his wife, who he cared for at home. A chatty, polite, affable man. A man who seemed to know the game was up but when he let his guard down revealed a sneering malevolence. And a man, crucially, who provided a DNA match.
What was interesting about this final episode was that it followed conventional crime drama structures (the chase, the tension etc) but still managed to retain an authentic, non-sensationalist feel. The fact that Sutton was not – and didn’t need to be – present when Grant was caught flew in the face of the traditional ‘hero cop’ trope.
What was also clever was the way Sutton’s encroaching retirement brought with it examinations of purpose, mortality and everything we think about as we get older. And mostly vulnerability. This vulnerability provided a link to the vulnerability of Grant’s retired elderly victims.
But really, Sutton and Ed Whitmore did an excellent job of both being true and respectful to those caught up in Grant’s heinous web of terror, and giving us procedural – and fascinating – thrills and spills.
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE ONE REVIEW
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE TWO REVIEW
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE THREE REVIEW