To say that this second series of Grace has been a mixed bag is an understatement. This batch if new stories started with a decent episode (the final episode of ‘series one’) then fell off a cliff a bit with two substandard instalments. The hope was that this final episode – Dead Tomorrow – would at least deliver a decent story and one that we could follow without too much head-scratching and engage with properly.
Although there were plenty of the usual Grace foibles, the story did hold up and was, at times, a riveting and compelling watch, further proving that in a mystery-of-the-week series, you’re only as good as your last story.
To begin with, we were presented with the usual dizzying array of Grace narrative strands – a group of asylum seekers on a boat crossing the Channel into England, a male body discovered out at sea with his eyes and organs removed, a swish young man knocked off a motorbike and now in a coma, a young girl waiting for a liver transplant, a young man stabbed outside a chip shop by a group of racist, right-wing thugs… the list continued. Like previous episodes, it was tricky to see how these seemingly disparate strands would fuse together in a satisfactory fashion.
But the difference with Dead Tomorrow is that they did, and relatively (and mercifully) quickly.
The victim found at sea was one of the asylum seekers, who had – contrary to what Grace and co initially thought – been harvested for his organs. Furthermore, the girl he met and became close with was now living rough and in secrecy in the nooks and crannies of Brighton, and she had also signed up for the same ‘job’ as he had.
Elsewhere, the man on the motorbike was a surgeon who, it turned out, was part of this heinous and illicit organ harvesting ring, who was selling its prey’s vitals for up to £200k a liver, kidney, heart or lung.
And the young waiting for a transplant was running out of time, her mother desperate to help her, any way – legally or illegally – she could.
As I mentioned all of these strands came together relatively quickly, and it soon turned into a cat and mouse game between the ringleaders – including the suave Julia Giroux (played by Joséphine de La Baume, who we last saw in Top Boy) and Grace and his team. The clock was ticking for the young asylum seeker because she had inadvertently signed up for ‘dream job in London’, which was shorthand for ‘impending death with her organs to be removed’.
As we all know, Grace is an unashamed procedural but this time the story was compelling and emotionally and morally loaded, adding greater weight and portent. It asked what a mother would do to save her daughter, and how a respected surgeon turned into a man with a God complex.
All these things made for good viewing. A story not without its flaws (I struggled to believe a very rich and powerful woman at the head of an organ-harvesting ring was so conspicuous and drove around Brighton in a big, posh black car), but it was a solid story.
I’ve been critical of this series, but I did enjoy Glenn’s side story of his psychological rehabilitation after he was almost killed in a shooting a few episodes back. And, of course, John Simm is John Simm, and he’s always worth a watch. So there have been plenty of things to like about this series.
I’ve just found the tropes a bit tired and predictable, and some of the adapting has been strange and unwieldy, to say the least. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t when it comes to adapting someone else’s books (in this case the award-winning and wildly popular Peter James), and goodness knows we’re all fans of Endeavour, but I get the feeling Russell Lewis found this project tricky.
Still, we’ll no doubt be back for more soon (especially with the (somewhat predictable) revelation right at the end of the episode that Grace’s wife Sandy might just be alive) as there does seem to be an audience for a procedural series that you can lose yourself in for a couple of hours on a Sunday evening.
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE ONE REVIEW
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE TWO REVIEW
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE THREE REVIEW
Grace is shown on ITV and is now available on ITV Hub in the UK