Prime Suspect 1973 episode 3 review

As the Julie Ann Collins case gains in complexity, the only thing that's certain is there are more twists and turns to come...

This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

This review contains spoilers.

The disturbing revelations uncovered during a search of the Collins family home are the focus of the Prime Suspect prequel’s third episode, as Julie Ann’s whereabouts in her last days finally start to emerge from the haze of half-truths surrounding her murder. The ongoing investigation into the Collins’ personal affairs turns up another unpleasant secret when a bloodstained golf club is found among a set hidden in an understairs cupboard. George Collins initially sticks to the version of events he’s previously told DI Bradfield, but, when confronted by evidence that he was visited by the missing Eddie Phillips, breaks down.

It turns out that he did indeed pick up Julie Ann from the Homerton Drug Unit on her release. His daughter, determined at that point to kick her addiction for the sake of her unborn child, begged him to fit a padlock on her bedroom door. However, George hadn’t thought to check her bag; when he tried to prevent her from using again, she flew into a rage. Her father claims that he beat her in a panic as she tried to escape the house with the payroll money from the factory where he works; her mother, he insists, was staying with his sister-in-law at the time. The fingerprint evidence and her sister’s testimony, however, tell a very different story. The only prints on the club belong to Mary Collins, who eventually reveals her involvement. Once again, Geoffrey Streatfeild and Nancy Carroll do a fine job of conveying the deep pain and guilt usually concealed by their characters’ genteel reticence.

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In Hackney, the other main plot strand of this week’s episode hinges on another troubled family living in very different circumstances. Clifford Bentley is about to be released from prison as the episode begins, but his impending return home is greeted with very different emotions. Renee and John are thrilled to have the Bentley patriarch back, but David is wary, and chooses to skip the welcome party thrown at their flat on the estate. His mother gently chides him for the disappearing act, but he reminds her that she could have done much better than sticking with his old man through all the years of misery and humiliation. Ruth Sheen’s loyal, house-proud Renee is a vivid portrayal of a woman of her times, right down to her nostalgia-inducing floral teatowels; the easy chemistry between her and Alun Armstrong’s Cliff thoroughly convinces as the enduring bond of a long-married couple. Their happiness is soon overshadowed by Cliff’s discovery that the cash he had stashed away for his release has been taken, apparently by the police (‘Thieving bastards!’, Cliff calls them, without a trace of irony). In view of John’s earlier discovery of his brother rifling through his pockets for drug money, Cliff might yet learn that the real culprit can be found a little closer to home.

The light cast upon the Collins family’s private miseries shines with equal intensity upon David Bentley’s simmering resentment towards his father and brother. When Cliff challenges him about his absence from the party, it emerges that David holds his brother responsible for abandoning him after his fall from a rooftop during an earlier job, an accident that left him permanently disabled and reliant on marijuana to ease the constant pain. Cliff’s demands that he pull himself together before the robbery do little to improve matters. It’s not the only pep talk the elder Bentley has to deliver; co-conspirator Silas is getting cold feet, and it takes a veiled threat to his family, already installed in their Cyprus bolthole, to concentrate his mind. As the café’s wall finally gives way, everything appears to be going to plan.

Matters are complicated further by Tennison’s discovery of Teresa O’Duncie’s role in events. When pressed to explain why her initials and phone number were scribbled on a gig flyer found in Julie Ann’s handbag, she breaks down and confesses that they don’t belong to her, but to her brother, Terry (Aaron Pierre). He’s the mysterious Oz whom the police have so far failed to trace. A raid on Oz’s house catches him in an intimate moment, but his fury at the ‘pigs’ who’ve broken up the party ends in a violent outburst from DS Gibbs. Tennison and Bradfield are appalled, but the question of whether either will shop their colleague remains open. The tension between the two after their brief clinch has caused enough gossip at the station to put a question mark over Tennison’s future, while Bradfield has already had to restrain his own desire for revenge when it comes to the smug Cliff Bentley, still insistent that he wasn’t responsible for the murder of a young officer on patrol. As the case gains in complexity, the only certainty is that more twists and turns are yet to come. 

Read Gem’s review of the previous episode here.