Prey episode 2 review

Review Becky Lea 5 May 2014 - 22:00

Prey is easily on course to becoming one of the year's best TV dramas. Here's Becky' s review of episode two...

This review contains spoilers.

The second episode of Prey begins exactly where the first finished with Marcus (John Simm) on the run after discovering the involvement of his best friend and fellow police officer, Sean (Craig Parkinson), in the death of his wife and son. DCI Susan Reinhardt (Rosie Cavaliero) is in hot pursuit, but soon comes to realise that Marcus isn’t just running from them, but is still trying to solve the case he was on before tragedy struck.

After the opening episode built up to a breakneck pace over the course of its runtime, the second episode continues in much the same fashion as Marcus flees through the back alleys of Salford with Susan Reinhardt in pursuit. The use of ‘shakey-cam’ has become so ubiquitous recently following its popularisation via the Hollywood action film that it is often met instantly with criticism. However, in Prey, director Nick Murphy shows himself to be an assured hand, utilising it effectively without flooding an entire episode with it. The opening chase scene is a perfect example in which it adds to the action, rather than detracts from it, and emphasises the chaotic and reactionary beats of the chase.

The other major set piece of the episode, the pursuit across Manchester to Piccadilly Station was a particularly tense affair, taking in everything from a bridge jump to train-based altercation. Again, the sequence was impressively constructed, focusing not only on Marcus but the net that the police attempt to spring around him at the next station. The physicality of both chases was impressive; even the wider main streets felt as claustrophobic as the Salford alleyways.

It also ended with another confrontation between Reinhardt and Marcus. Unlike in the previous episode, there is barely any space between them now and Marcus has to assault her to get away. However, the crucial difference is that Reinhardt is given some important information about why Marcus has been investigating the Omer Hassan case instead of just running for the hills as they first thought. They may still be on opposite sides of the bars, as it were, but both of them are closer to working towards the same goal. Now that Mac has been implicated, it can’t be long before Reinhardt starts to side with Marcus entirely.

The performances from the main cast are once again excellent, particularly Rosie Cavaliero departing from her usual comic roles to one considerably more dramatic. We’re given more of a glimpse into her family life this week, or rather the breakdown of it, giving her character a tragic dimension and making her more sympathetic. This is needed as the Reinhardt we see at the beginning of this episode is infuriating, focused solely on catching Marcus and resolute in her belief that he’s a ‘lunatic’. It’s only when she starts to question his actions that she even begins to think there may be other motives. However, it’s these mistakes that make her feel all the more human.

The same too goes for Marcus who manages to be both a Bourne-esque superman evading capture and a bit of an idiot across the episode. John Simm handles both facets equally well, but it was the moment in which he blundered his way into Malaqui’s family that carried the most emotional resonance. Usually in such a one-man focused escape narrative such as this, the ramifications of his interactions with those who aid him aren’t always explored in any great deal. It may have been a few short scenes, but the impact of Marcus on their lives is keenly felt, as is his subsequent regret at having inadvertently gotten them involved. It’s the smaller moments like this, in between the fast-paced action and revelations, that make Prey a compelling all-round drama, rather than relying simply on shocks to keep people hooked.

With the reveal that Sean is working against Marcus on this particular occasion last week, it wasn’t a tough leap to make to assuming that other figures in the police force were also in on it. I’d had my suspicions about Mac during the opening episode but was quickly thrown off by the Sean scene. However, she began to act shiftily again here and her involvement was quickly affirmed in the final scene of the episode. It had been telegraphed in subtle ways, but it still came as a gut punch to see the floppy disk hit the deep fat fryer (a phrase I never thought I would write). Without the disks, it throws up all sorts of questions about how Marcus will prove his innocence and if Hassan’s murder can be linked to those of his family.

With another fantastic episode, Prey is easily on course to become one of the best dramas of the year so far, bringing a cinematic quality to our screens with confidence and ease. There’s only one episode left and, if the previous two are anything to go by, it promises to be a corker.

Read Becky's review of the previous episode here.

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