Identity episode 3 review

It's taken three episodes, but ITV's Identity has finally managed to hit its stride...

3. Pariah

I’d been pre-warned by the series creator that Pariah, the third Identity outing, would move the series up a gear, and he wasn’t kidding.

This was by far the most engaging story so far, revolving around the very topical subject of people given false identities by the state, who then have those new personas made public. In reality this has only happened a handful of times in this country, most notably Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, the pair responsible for the horrific murder of Jamie Bulger.

Identity takes more the Maxine Carr angle, where the spouse of a child killer is the protected one who is suddenly outted by an anonymous Internet posting.

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In one respect, the story has only that much to do with the subject of identity, but what it then goes on to explore is the true personality of the ‘victim’, Amy Quilan (played very effectively by Sarah Smart), whose life is turned upside down when her exposure leads to the abduction of her own son, mirroring her husband’s original crime.

Phil Davis turns up as the bitter and twisted father of the long murdered child, doing both bitter and twisted in the way only he can. Is he behind Amy’s problems?

I’m not going to divulge here where it ultimately goes, but there are some excellent twists along this narrative path that made this the most gripping Identity so far.

What I also got from this was that, three episodes in, this show is actually Aidan Gillen’s piece, with Keeley Hawes playing a distinctly supporting role. We still lack any great detail about who Martha is beyond her rank, or what she does when she’s not strutting around the office. Please make her the granddaughter of a famous Nazis or previously a drug addict prostitute, or anything more than she is now. 

But a good amount of time is taken turning the clockwork mechanism of the Bloom sub-plot, where he’s both good and bad guy in turns. Him having to visit the same jail on sequential days as both his gangster and police personas was a neat contrivance, and it signals the potential unravelling of his secret, presumably before the season is out.

Gillen has evolved nicely from the first show, replacing the rather flat and unresponsive character with something more subtle and brooding. Unfortunately, the rest of the Identity team just haven’t been given the screen time to break out of their one paragraph descriptions, and they desperately need to become more three dimensional in a hurry.

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What I’m enjoying more is the injection of some filmic shots, where characters imagine that the room they’re in has another character in it from a previous time period observing them. This is the staple of the likes of CSI, but Identity pulls it off with singularly more panache than that show can muster.

With just six stories in this series we’re now at the halfway marker, and I’m hoping that, in the final three, the lesser characters get fleshed out. While I enjoy Aidan Gillen and what he’s doing with Bloom, it can’t just be him holding the acting tent up alone.

Pariah was much better than either of the first two offerings, and if the last three are remotely as good as this, then I’d be surprised if the series doesn’t warrant a second helping.

Read our review of episode 2 here.