Twenty-nineteen’s The Capture was an intriguing and hugely watchable high-tech thriller, dealing as it did with deep fake technology and the potential it has to commit crimes, cover them up or, as series one did, finger someone for a crime they didn’t commit.
At the end of that series, DI Rachel Carey (Holliday Grainger) – who had investigated the case of the doomed Lance Corporal Shaun Emery – had surprisingly joined the very shadowy intelligence services that she was desperate to expose.
There was always the feeling that she was joining this organisation because she wanted to bring them down from the inside, but now – six months after the Emery case – we finally got confirmation that that was her intention. But before that, a whole heap of things happened.
We know that creator Ben Chanan is concerned with studying the potential impact of the aforementioned technology, and he wasted no time in setting up another intriguing, tech-heavy story.
A Chinese-Asian man had a rather extravagant home security set-up in his apartment, but something’s awry – he sees the lift on the ground floor of his apartment building open and close but without anyone inside. The same happens on his floor – the lift door opens, but no one gets out. In the blink of an eye, he’s assassinated – shot in the head by the ghostly figure standing outside his front door as he approaches from inside his apartment.
Someone’s been messing with the CCTV again.
We then meet hotly-tipped security minister Issac Turner (the brilliant Paapa Essiedu), who is a very modern politician. He’s surrounded by a team of advisors monitoring his every movement and word and is in constant contact with them via tablets and facetime and all the rest of it. He has to make a big decision – whether to award a Chinese firm called Zander a contract to supply British airports with unrivalled face recognition scanning technology.
The benefits are manifold – the tech can tell instantly if someone is carrying a virus, for example, or something worse. But as manifold the benefits are so are the potential disasters (racial profiling for a start), and Turner is intent on turning down Zander because of their links to the Chinese government. The firm’s shady boss is not impressed and the two exchange barbs loaded with passive-aggressive intent.
While all this is happening DI Rachel Carey is not a happy camper. She’s inside Shadowy Intelligence Forces HQ, but the wonderfully withering DSU Gemma Garland (Lia Williams) is keeping her at arm’s length and away from the fun stuff on the seventh floor. It’s only when her old team contact her after the murder of the Chinese-Asian man that the fun really begins.
Turner’s advisory team are being bumped off – a second man is targeted using the same MO (ie CCTV tampering), which leaves Rachel’s former colleague Patrick Flynn with two bullets in his chest. It’s time for panic stations, and Turner is scooped up by Garland’s team and moved to a safe house, along with the rest of his advisory team.
But Rachel – as is her wont – thinks there’s something fishy about all this, and pleads with Garland and Turner at the safe house for him to move again. She thinks that the mystery assassins have him exactly where they want him for a reason yet to be determined.
And that’s when the TV comes on. Turner was booked to appear on Newsnight to reveal that he opposes Zander’s involvement in any facial recognition technology. But despite being at the safe house, there he is on TV, saying that he’s happy to award the contract to the Chinese firm.
Is the CEO of Zander making good on his threats and using extraordinary methods to secure the contract? Or is he being set up by his governmental colleagues (there was strange boys’ club meeting between Turner, a very smarmy Home Secretary and his pitbull communications head, which implied they were out to get him despite the smiles and fake bonhomie)? And is new police recruit Chloe Tan one to watch?
Oh, it’s a juicy one this, and an excellent first episode to kick things off. As I mentioned in my reviews of series one, there’s something inherently creepy and very scary about deep fake technology, and the potential for disaster if it ever got into the wrong hands with the wrong intent. And this story plays right into that creepy-old wheelhouse.
Yes, some of the dialogue is a little stilted, but this was undeniably slick and, once again, really, really nicely done. I can’t wait to see where it goes.
The Capture is broadcast in the UK on BBC One and on iPlayer