Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Arts

The crime of the (last) century

It was the second WTF ending of Unforgotten, says Hannah Dunleavy. But this time it didn’t matter. Contains SPOILERS.

Strangers on a Train?” “Yeah, the production budget wouldn’t stretch to booking the Orient Express.” Elise (Holly Aird) and Sunny (Sanjeev Bhaskar) talk it out. Photo: ITV.

After I wrote last week’s piece, a couple of people posited the theory to me that the final episode of Unforgotten would reveal a Strangers on a Train-type ending. It’s something I’d already considered, not because I’m particularly adept at guessing the killer with TV drama (as you may well have noticed), but because that was the resolution of an episode of Silent Witness just a few weeks ago, making Strangers on a Train-type endings the crime drama’s version of ‘the mother’s got Munchhausen by proxy’ in medical series.

Which would mean if this theory was right, it would be the second ‘off-the-rails’ ending for Unforgotten in as many series. And that is exactly what happened.

But, and this is a huge BUT, look at the size of it there, none of this mattered because the closing episode of series two turned out to be a very fine episode of TV drama indeed.

Does it matter that it hung on a solution so improbable that the series didn’t even try to explain how it might have logistically happened? I’m not sure it does. Or that it rapidly dropped all those other plot strands (Sara’s career in ruins, that teenage cancer patient, the birth mother’s new partner)? Nah.

“I had been wondering why Holly Aird was in the series at all, but it turned out to be that she got to shout, ‘You’re an evil fucking witch’ into the face of a national treasure.”

Because what followed was essentially a series of two-handers, including some several monologues, in which the whole cast was on fire. Lorraine Ashworth was brilliant as Tessa tried woefully to explain her past silence. Mark Bonnar was a tremendous Colin as he told the sorry tale of his childhood abuse. And, for the want of a better expression, OMFG to Rosie Cavaliero, whose deeply troubled Marion explained the absolute and sadly not-so hidden horror of what her father had done to her.

I once saw Robert Duvall, one of the world’s finest actors, explaining why he never cried on camera (because he believes watching someone attempting not to cry is way more powerful than oodles of weeping). And man, did Unforgotten prove that point last night, with long pauses and catches in voices doing the work that a flood of tears and shouting could never have achieved.

Even the outlying characters finally got something to do. I had been wondering why Holly Aird was in the series at all, but it turned out to be that she got to shout “You’re an evil fucking witch” into the face of a national treasure.

The only other thing that mattered this week was the fallout from Cassie and Sunny’s night out on the lash. Which I think, indeed hope, won’t turn into a long-running thing. I’m not entirely sure whether Cassie turning to her partner to ask if he thought she was doing the right thing was designed to assure us they were just mates, or hint that there was, in fact, something else between them. (Because, in truth, this series has already spent a huge amount of time showing that Sunny’s a man of emotion and would agree to the plan straight off. It’s her who plays it by the book.)

But again, none of that matters. Well done Unforgotten, well done indeed.

Other thoughts

Jesus Jason, pay attention would you? The woman wants to sleep with you. Also, I still think you did it.

Until next time…

Catch up on the previous episodes of Unforgotten here.

@thatdunleavy

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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.

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