This review contains spoilers.
Where’s Ted Hastings when you need him? A bent copper was at the heart of In The Dark’s second half, and AC-12 was nowhere in sight. If Line Of Duty’s crack-squad had been around, perhaps this thriller finale may have stood a chance of being thrilling. As it was, the twist waddled into view with all the grace of a nine-months-pregnant detective, and the denouement unravelled largely in explanatory dialogue after the event.
Adam the Affair, a character we’d hardly met and would probably struggle to pick out of a line-up if asked to, was the baddie. Poor dead Paul wasn’t corrupt – quite the opposite. Paul was onto Adam’s dodgy dealings with Kevin Sherwood, and had been trailing him professionally, hence the shadowing after Helen’s leaving do. He wasn’t obsessed with getting revenge on the man who slept with his girlfriend. He was simply doing his job.
Neither was Paul cheating on Helen. ‘Victoria’ was a code name used by his anti-corruption unit, which is why Adam broke into Helen’s flat to steal the iPad she’d told him had contained what he knew must be incriminating photographs.
To save his own skin, Adam paid the gang members to shoot blanks at the car of a woman he’d blackmailed to crash into the bus shelter where he’d arranged for Paul to be sitting, then he shot live bullets into her car before scarpering.
As murders go, it was a fairly baroque plan, and one that proved by no means bullet-proof. It only took the ballistics report to show that something iffy was going on, and then the CCTV footage of Adam arranging the hit to knock in the final nail. An experienced police officer with time to prepare might have come up with something more watertight, mightn’t they?
We’re not here to criticise Adam’s plan; we’re here to be entertained and perhaps even moved. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of either in this plodding, morose finale. The gang storyline was overfamiliar to the point of cliché and Weeks’ grief didn’t make for an exciting resolution.
It did, however, make her do odd things such as take a relaxing bath in the flat she was avoiding for fear of a criminal gang tracking her there (the black car turned out to be police surveillance so she needn’t have worried). She also questioned a group of estate kids about whether they’d known Easy and Wave (in the past tense) before either of them had been killed. Perhaps being psychic is a side effect of pregnancy?
Clive, henchman to Tim McInnerny’s criminal boss, was revealed to have been behind the gang murders. As revenge for Paul’s death, Frank had the boys in that car picked off one by one, ending with poor Theo, who never made it to the Lake District. Clive’s boss Frank really was just a tuna-hating pal of Paul’s and the father of his dead ex-fiancée. Presumably, Frank got so far as tracking the boys down to that social club but failed to gather the additional info that they were acting under instruction of Adam.
It took Helen to find that out, something she achieved not through deduction, but yet another tip-off. First Frank pushed her in the right direction, then the social club landlord finished the job. Watching a detective bounce from informant to informant like a pinball and then arrive comfortably at the jackpot isn’t a thrilling watch.
After two rushed stories involving DI Helen Weeks, the second more lacklustre than the first but both as generic as the other, it’s hard to muster much enthusiasm about the idea of her returning to a screen already saturated with crime fiction. Good actors like these can only do so much with muddled, unsatisfying plots and thin characterisation. Every so often these summertime midweek dramas prove to be hidden gems more deserving of Sunday evening primetime slots. Not so this time, more’s the pity.
Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode here.