REVIEW Bloodlands (S2 E1/6)

Last year’s Bloodlands promised much but instead delivered a flawed thriller with more holes than a golf course. So when news came it was recommissioned for a second series, it was a bit of a head-scratcher.

Still, we’re here for series two and so is James Nesbitt, who reprises his role as DCI Tom Brannick, aka serial assassin Goliath. In series one, we saw him lead an investigation where he was the main suspect and he spent that entire run subtly trying to cover his tracks and throw his colleagues off his scent. It was an interesting and intriguing premise, and although it was indeed flawed, there were some good moments throughout.

Now he’s back and living the life of a regular DCI again. That is until an accountant called Colin Foyle is discovered with a bullet in his body in a deserted field. So far so normal for a homicide detective, except Brannick’s face dropped when he saw Foyle – he knew him.

We’re then taken back to a flashback sequence, where Brannick – in Balaclava-wearing Goliath mode (with the producers using deep fake tech to de-age Nesbitt) taking out two men who had just disembarked a boat carrying two cases. Once he had assassinated them (after looking at a photo of what looked like his baby daughter to… what?… try and justify his actions?) he looked inside the cases, where he found gold bullion and a set of rifles.

So we now have gold (I want to say that in a pirate’s voice) thrown into the mix and, as we find, with the death of Foyle, missing gold. I wonder if gold was a thing during the Troubles because for the life of me I had no idea why it was introduced as a plot device here.

Whatever. Back in the present day, Brannick was obviously shaken by Foyle’s discovery and rushed back home to take a look at his secret Goliath stash, including a burner phone and a flurry of text messages from Foyle.

So Brannick and Foyle were in cahoots. But did Foyle know Brannick was Goliath, and vice versa? How were they involved?

Brannick led the investigation and again he was gently steering his colleagues towards paramilitary suspects. What he didn’t bargain on was Foyle’s wife, the urbane Olivia (who gave it the grieving wife act, but Brannick knew better. Together they engaged in a cat-and-mouse flirtation, which was great fun to watch. There’s no doubt that Olivia is shaping up to be a femme fatale and is hiding something, namely knowing about her husband’s shady past. So much so, we saw her go to a storage facility to find the gold that Brannick originally stole a decade or so earlier.

It wasn’t there and she freaked.

I’m still not convinced about the premise or the show as a whole, but you have to give it to the writers – they hit the right beats in the right places. And with Brannick and Olivia’s simmering relationship promising real sparks, Bloodlands might be worth a watch this year.

Paul Hirons

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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