Prime Suspect 1973 episode 2 review

Prime Suspect 1973's second episode ramps up the tension while maintaining the same period charm as the series opener...

This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

This review contains spoilers.

The investigation into Julie Ann Collins’ murder continues in Prime Suspect 1973’s second episode, while, far from the police’s notice, the bank robbery planned by Clifford Bentley and his sons enters its early stages. Eddie Phillips, Julie Ann’s boyfriend, has still not been traced after his escape from hospital, and DI Bradfield’s questioning of the young man’s associates isn’t getting very far. An interview with the smooth-talking Dwayne Clarke (Thomas Coombes) is obtained through collaboration with undercover officer, Duke (George Maguire), who’s been keeping the drug dealers under surveillance as part of a long-term attempt to bring them in. Clarke claims not to know Eddie’s whereabouts, and he might just be telling the truth; we get a brief glimpse of the fugitive floating face down in a river. Given that we last saw Phillips paying a clandestine visit to Julie Ann’s father, our suspicions are drawn to George Collins, whose grief seems to be concealing other emotions.

Bentley’s sons, John (Lex Shrapnel) and David (Jay Taylor) are busy preparing for the robbery on a local branch of the British Savings Bank. They’re posing as workmen in order to drill through the wall of a neighbouring café and into the bank’s vaults, though obliging owner Silas Manato (Antony Skordi) is getting nervous about the interest from curious neighbour, Hebe (Charlotte Palmer). The Bentley boys’ mum Renee is curious about her sons’ activities, too, but John’s managed to keep David quiet so far, despite his brother’s constant misery, which appears to be connected to Julie Ann’s fate. David’s got other, more mercenary preoccupations on his mind, too; he visits his dad in prison to ask for a bigger cut of the proceeds from the robbery. Clifford reluctantly agrees, but the heated conversation between them has violent consequences, and Bentley ends up at loggerheads with kingpin Clay Whitely (Dorian Lough). The old hand’s loyalties are being challenged, and his fearsome reputation doesn’t seem to carry quite as much weight in the criminal underworld as it once did.

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The ongoing investigation isn’t the only subject weighing on Jane Tennison’s mind. She reports her conversation with Suzy (Katie Griffiths) back to DI Bradfield, who chides her for failing to follow protocol, but is ultimately grateful. They have a drink and Bradfield confides in her about his grief for a young PC murdered during a routine traffic stop by a man who, unbeknownst to the dead officer, was on his way to commit a robbery. Both end up drinking more than they ought, and a fumbling kiss ends in embarrassment on both sides. At work the following day, Bradfield attempts to avoid Tennison and snaps at her when she makes a mistake. The atmosphere remains uncomfortable, and is exacerbated when Sergeant Harris lets slip that most in the station think Tennison’s joined the police for no better reason than to snare a husband. Kath Morgan’s kindly to her friend to take care, as the clinch with Bradfield was witnessed, doesn’t lift the gloom: neither does a dash from work to arrive, late, at her sister’s wedding rehearsal, where she encounters more of the tight-lipped disapproval that, it seems, is the norm chez Tennison.

This second episode maintains the period charm of the series opener while ramping up the tension around both the murder investigation and the upcoming bank job. The grim, grimy 1970s ambience remains faultless, with the smoke-filled atmosphere of Bradfield’s favourite boozer proving a particular highlight; David Bentley’s vantage point in a dank multi-storey car park provides another memorable image. Finer details in the characterisation are, satisfyingly, starting to emerge as we get to know Tennison, her colleagues and the cast of vivid characters they encounter – or who have yet to cross their path – in Hackney. The power dynamics of the Bradley clan look set to deliver more surprises, while George Collins’ pain, powerfully evoked by Geoffrey Streatfeild, is revealed to mask a disturbing secret by the episode’s end when a warrant is obtained to search his home. This follows a conversation with the charmingly garrulous receptionist at Homerton Hospital Drug Unit, Teresa O’Duncie (Franc Ashman), who sheds more light on Julie Ann’s movements on release from the ward after attempting to break free of her addiction. As for Tennison herself, Stefanie Martini gets the opportunity to convey more of the young WPC’s struggle to balance the conventions of her middle-class home life with the demands of her male-dominated workplace, as her chemistry with Bradfield promises yet more complications. It’s a compelling mix, and one that, if the pace is kept up, should draw us in even further in the remaining four episodes.