Prime Suspect 1973 episode 4 review

Tennison's character is developed in episode 4 of Prime Suspect 1973...

This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

This review contains spoilers.

The repercussions of Gibbs’ loss of control during Terry O’Duncie’s arrest are the main focus of this episode; for Jane Tennison, the pressure to fit in with her new colleagues is pushing her to take action that could cast a long shadow over her career. Both Gibbs and Bradfield are telling their superiors that O’Duncie struck the first blow, but Tennison saw the whole thing and knows different. Gibbs is panicking that he’ll be suspended, while Bradfield’s main concern is that the investigation could be derailed permanently by the allegations of police brutality, which are being backed by the only witness: Sarah, known as Flowers (Jodie Tyack), the woman in bed with O’Duncie when the police raid took place. Her heroin dependency makes her vulnerable, though, and the effects of withdrawal soon kick in. Flowers’ testimony becomes still more crucial when O’Duncie’s charge sheet gets even longer. Eddie Phillips’ body is dragged from the river, with a nasty blow to the head looking to be the cause of death. The net appears to be tightening around the man all believe to have been Julie Ann’s killer.

The autopsy, however – carried out by Dr Martin, whose dogged perseverance with his sandwich during the process earns him a glare from Bradfield – tells a more complicated story. Phillips’s head wound was inflicted post mortem; his death was, in fact, caused by strychnine poisoning. O’Duncie’s fingerprints are found on a bag of rat poison, which contains the fatal substance, while Flowers’ revelation that she watched Phillips die from an overdose after O’Duncie offered him drugs on the house in an act of uncharacteristic generosity only seems to confirm the dealer’s guilt. O’Duncie’s protestations to the contrary cut no ice with the police.

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Tennison’s character is developed in this episode thanks to the cumulative effects of various pressures, chief amongst them the ongoing conflict between her home life and her career. Matters come to a head when her sister Pam throws a party, and Tennison – more than a little tipsy – let slip that there’s a man in her life, and a ‘tricky’ one at that. She isn’t expecting a midnight visit from the man himself, who’s come to beg her not to tell the truth about Gibbs. He reminds her that Julie Ann’s murderer could go free if the case falls apart due to legal wrangling, and rather manipulatively asks if she really wants that guilt on her conscience. Unfortunately for Tennison, her mother overhears the whole conversation, and sees Bradfield kiss her daughter on the cheek as he leaves. The incident causes a scene the following morning, but Tennison’s father’s ineffectual attempts to remonstrate with her don’t have the desired effect. When Tennison spots a vacancy for a WPC in the police lodgings, she knows exactly what her next step’s going to be.

While all this is going on, the Bentleys have been hard at work drilling through from Silas’s café into the bank vault. David’s unreliability becomes an issue again when he fails to spot a policeman calling after yet another complaint from neighbour Hebe, and disaster is only narrowly avoided by Silas’s quick thinking. Apart from that, the job’s going smoothly, but the robbers’ activities haven’t gone completely unnoticed. Tennison pays a visit to local radio enthusiast Ashley Brennan (Neil Hancock), who plays back a recording he made of a male voice using the call sign Eagle One. Tennison takes the information back to the station, but her colleagues view Brennan as a nuisance and don’t want to investigate further. That soon changes when, on a call to the Homerton Drug Unit to check on the recovering Flowers, Tennison and Sergeant Harris see the Bentley brothers. Harris recognises them as Cliff Bentley’s sons, while Tennison immediately identifies John’s voice as the one she heard on Brennan’s recording. Cliff’s careful plans are starting to unravel.

Before that, however, it’s Gibbs’ innocence that is on the line. Under pressure from all sides, Tennison sticks to the agreed story under interview, and is hailed as one of the team by her relieved colleagues. Morgan expresses surprise that she’s turned out not to be such a ‘goody two shoes’ after all, while Gibbs – resplendent in satin shirt and flares at a celebratory gig by his covers band – is full of gratitude. Bradfield, however, is even more grateful, and lets Tennison know it in no uncertain terms when he pays her another late-night visit at her new digs. Now the couple’s budding romance has been consummated, will Morgan’s warning about getting involved with a superior prove to be justified? It seems certain that Tennison’s decision to let loyalty win out over honesty will come back to haunt her at some point…

Read Gem’s review of the previous episode here.