Innocent episode 4 review

Innocent concludes its guessing game with great performances but without a great deal of excitement. Spoilers ahead…

This review contains spoilers.

That’s that then. We know who killed Tara Collins and we heard why. It wasn’t her sister, or her brother-in-law. It wasn’t her lover, nor was it her husband (take that DI Beech). It was the only possible candidate remaining: David’s brother Phil.

The news was broken in a scene that, while emotionally charged thanks to real commitment by both actors, was largely free of tension. It was suggested to David that Phil could be a suspect, then he dismissed it, then he came around to it. The moment David suspected his brother, he confronted him and immediately received his answer in a lengthy monologue.

The whole thing lacked any sense of unpredictability or danger. There were very few dots to connect. Phil immediately toppled at the slightest nudge and proceeded to answer all our questions in a full and frank confession, as though he’d been accused in an Agatha Christie drawing room rather than in his garden shed.

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While Daniel Ryan and Lee Ingleby’s performances were anything but underwhelming, the static backdrop to the brothers’ final scene was. The kids were just outside, but were simply ignored. Weren’t David and Phil planning a climbing trip? Imagine if David had looked down at a knot while halfway up a rockface and then made the realisation that Phil was the killer. At least we’d have enjoyed a frisson of excitement about what might happen next.

A lack of excitement about what might happen next is what Innocent has been missing as a whole. As a thriller, it made predictable moves. All the characters had a go being the main suspect and then being ruled out until there was one man left standing. When the killer was eventually asked if he did it, he said yes and that was that. Phil was led away in cuffs. The end. Perhaps the short episode order was to blame, but with the best will in the world, you’d be hard pressed to find material for an additional two hours in there.

Innocent fared better as a family drama. In the early episodes, there was enough edge to David’s character to wonder what kind of man he was, which lent his potential reunion with Jack a bit of interest. That wasn’t fully exploited, however, and both kids seemed to change their minds about their dad’s guilt as swiftly as if they were changing their socks.   

Once we saw David with his kids, his love for them was made clear and so the interest passed to the three of them navigating the emotions of an unusual and difficult situation. Like Phil’s confession though, it all just felt as though it happened too easily. After a few cokes, the kids were solidly on their dad’s side. The buzzing tension between Lee Ingleby and Hermione Norris, both of whom have been excellent throughout, had promised to lead to an explosive confrontation but fizzled out. And nobody was fooled by that long car journey – of course David was going to bring them back home for a happy ending, nice as that was to see.

With good performances, pretty locations, and a middling murder-mystery, the most interest in this story came from its depiction of a legal system that’s only as strong as the people who run it. Seven years of David’s life were stolen by arrogance and negligence. Phil’s betrayal of David, Tara and the kids was terrible, but the miscarriage of justice that allowed him to get away with it was the real villain of the story.

Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode here.

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