This review contains spoilers.
Systems and processes are only as good as the people operating them, teaches Innocent episode three. Forensic science may have the gleam of objective truth about it, but when the forensic scientist is a cheapo scammer with no professional ethics, it’s about as useful as to a criminal investigation as a tarot reading.
The same goes for old-school police types like DI Beech. Gut instinct is much praised among on-screen detectives. They sniff their way towards guilt, following a trail only visible to them and almost always land their perp. They’re real cops dammit, not paperwork monkeys! Their methods may be unconventional, but their hunches are never wrong.
Well, sometimes, hunches are wrong. That’s why the paperwork monkeys are the real police heroes. Officers like DI Hudson, who are willing to put the work in to get to the truth. Hudson reopened the Tara Collins case expecting no surprises. She thought that, on balance, David Collins was guilty, and that her team would only be backing up DI Beech’s conclusion. By keeping her mind open to possibilities and showing a willingness to have it changed by solid proof though, she proved herself to be twice the cop her ex is.
All that’s written in the belief that David Collins is, of course, innocent. After episode three’s emotional conclusion, which gave us the moving sight of man given back a life that had been unjustly stolen from him, he simply has to be. Tom’s doctored timeline makes it impossible for David to have killed Tara, and frankly, there’d be no point to this story if in some shock twist it turned out that David did it.
Despite us having watched him almost drown a man last episode, David has emerged as a sympathetic character. Lee Ingleby played his reunion with his daughter and the scene in which he learned he was no longer under suspicion with real feeling. Elliot Cowan and Hermione Norris too, as Tom and Alice, also conveyed their characters’ great distress with conviction. Despite the fact that they both had motive and opportunity, it’s hard to believe that either one killed Tara.
If they didn’t do it then, and the finger was pointed at Rob too early, and David Collins is innocent… then who’s left? How about David’s brother Phil? Against all odds, episode three provided the slightest hints that there’s more to him than meets the eye. There was just something in the air. Tonight, we learned that Phil’s marriage to Gemma broke down following Tara’s murder. Was Tara more to him than just a sister-in-law? An easy lover, perhaps?
Consider the clues: Phil worked at the boatyard, has a shed full of climbing rope, and has been walking around being Mr Kind and Reasonable Background-Guy all this time (which should set alarm bells ringing in any whodunnit – it’s always the quiet ones glimpsed casually eating Weetabix in the back of shot). Phil also seems to have been the only person never to have doubted David’s innocence. Brotherly love is one thing, but the only way he could be utterly convinced his bro wasn’t guilty would be if he knew for certain who was. And what else might drive Phil to devote his life to proving David’s innocence but the guilt that he’d committed the crime for which his brother was inside, serving another day after another day.
In paradise, all police officers would be DI Hudson. And in paradise, venal tabloid newspapers wouldn’t exploit vulnerable people to sell their rags. That ‘Tragic Tara’s sex and drink shame’ splash is likely to drive a wedge between David and his kids – that’s if the simmering resentment of the locals doesn’t get him first.
Innocent concludes tomorrow night at 9pm on ITV. Read our review of the previous episode here.