REVIEW Sherwood (S1 E3/6)

After the jump-out-of-your-seat conclusion to episode two, Sherwood has now entered interesting territory. There’s no doubt it has, so far, been a very powerful story and compelling whodunit. But now we have two juxtaposing murders to deal with.

Right at the start of each episode, we are told that this story is based on two real-crimes – murders – that occurred in the Ashfield area. To begin with we were wondering who the second victim would be. Naturally, all eyes would be on the crossbow person who slain Gary Jackson. But the second murder was a domestic – we saw Tory councillor Sarah Vincent viciously bludgeoned by her seemingly mild-mannered father-in-law, Andy Fisher.

So now we have two juxtaposing elements being juggled – a whodunit, by its very definition a narrative device where we don’t know who perpetrated the murder; and a murder where we do know who did it. They really are two contrasting elements in play, and I wondered how writer Jamie Graham would balance the two successfully.

The first two episodes were superb, and so was this mid-series instalment. Quite naturally, Ian St Clair thought – wanted even – there to be a link between the murder of Gary Jackson and Sarah Vincent. In some way, it would’ve made him and his team’s life easier in some strange way. But his reluctant partner – Kevin Salisbury – thought otherwise. The MO was starkly different, so why would they be linked?

Throughout this episode these two really rubbed each other the wrong way. Salisbury dared to ask the questions St Clair could not ask of his friends and fellow community members (a good thing, actually) and the two’s fracturing relationship culminated in Salisbury inexplicably visiting the miners’ club and, after being recognised, getting into a drunken fight. St Clair collected him and the two launched into each other on the drive back – Salisbury blamed him for ruining his life, while St Clair still held a grudge because he was the one who had to stay behind and clear up the mess Salisbury and his Met pals had made during the strike.

In fact, throughout the episode, a strong motif emerged – one of two people, each embodying two sides of an argument being pitted against each other. St Clair and Salisbury, Julie and her sister Cathy… the list goes on.

Also in the episode, we got some touching and sensitively handled back story about the community and their divisions. Local football team Nottingham Forest were hosting Barnsley. Nottinghamshire seemed to have mostly seen its miners cross the picket lines back in the 1980s, whereas those in Barnsley were very much pro-strike. A bus-load of Barnsley supporters – led by Stephen Tomkinson as the charismatic and dangerous Warnock – were intent on paying their respects to their fallen comrade, Gary Jackson.

There were some tense scenes here, but also believable and dramatically very strong.

By the end of the episode, Scott Rowley was still at large and feckless, cowardly Andy Fisher – played oh-so-convincingly and with nuance by Adeel Ahktar – was on the run, surely soon for the cells. And we also edged a tiny bit closer to finding out what happened between St Clair and Salisbury on that fateful night, AND a name when it came to the ‘spy cop’… Robbie Platt.

Another very good episode.

Paul Hirons

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

READ MORE: OUR EPISODE ONE REVIEW

READ MORE: OUR EPISODE TWO REVIEW

Sherwood airs on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK

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