Ordeal By Innocence episode 2 review

The plot thickens like an excellent custard in Ordeal By Innocence’s second episode. Spoilers ahead…

This review contains spoilers.

It’s the day before the Sunny Point wedding, and the Argylls have more on their minds than table settings and sugared almonds. Dr Calgary’s determination to prove Jack innocent of his adoptive mother’s murder couldn’t have come at a worse time. If Jack didn’t do it, then one of them must have. Rather ruins one’s appetite for fruitcake and a disco, no?

Not that the Argylls are big on cake. They breakfasted this week on a diet of grapefruit, cigarettes and suspicion. Mischief-maker Flight Lieutenant Philip Durrant spent the day behaving as badly as he could before really putting a dampener on things by expiring in his shower, full to the brim with morphine. “I’m going to do all I can to make your father’s wedding day memorable,” said Philip, and managed that alright. It’s traditional for the groom not to see the bride before the big day, but less so for him to discover his son-in-law’s corpse in the ground-floor bathroom.

It must have been murder. Just like common decency, the morphine was beyond Philip’s reach. Matthew Goode has been delightfully evil as the louche pilot and will of course be missed, but after the way his character had been carrying on, you could hardly blame whoever stuck him with the needle.

Ad – content continues below

Was it wife Mary, wound tighter than a drum and, according to Philip, just as dry and empty inside? Or was it child-like Hester, who’s protective of Mary, and whom he forcibly kissed this week? It might as well have been Leo, Mickey, Gwenda, the silent maid or any combination thereof.

The same goes for Rachel’s killer. After another hour of mutual accusation and shifty-eyed silence, we’re no closer to knowing who did it than we were at this point last week. We are closer though, to the thick syrup of secrets bubbling under the Argyll family relationships. Breathe it in, sticky, dark and rich… the perfect Sunday pudding. What better to go with a plot that’s thickening like a delicious custard.

Despite its glorious murals and a hothouse to die for, Sunny Point was no happy home before Rachel’s death. The short version is: they all hated each other apart from the ones who were doing it (who hated each other and fancied each other at the same time). Mary resents her siblings for existing. It looks like Tina and Mickey’s affections went beyond the natural bounds of brother and sister. While Rachel was still alive, Gwenda was, to borrow a tremendous phrase from dead Philip, “riding Leo like a seaside donkey” on the regular. Jack, unbound by social convention, delighted in causing chaos and embarrassment wherever he went (are we sure he and Philip aren’t related by blood?).

And by the looks of things, Hester had got herself in the family way eighteen months earlier. A pregnancy termination is at least the likeliest explanation for Rachel driving a bloody Hester home on Christmas Eve. If that was the case, then who was the father? Perhaps this sordid incestuous tale is getting to me, but… could it have been Daddy Leo? Appreciating appropriate historical and class usage, there’s always something creepy about grown-ups using that word.

The Argyll kids though, as they were told this week, aren’t really grown-ups. They’re still children, with all the bonds and whispered secrets of youth.

Speaking of secrets, we know for certain that Gwenda, Tina and Mickey lied to the police about their whereabouts on the night Rachel was killed. Alice Eve is a delight as Gwenda, whose transformation from mousy secretary to blonde bombshell pre and post-Rachel’s death is perhaps telling. Eve peps up the darkness everywhere else with her knack for comic delivery. She’s even funny sunbathing. She’ll probably turn out to be the killer.

Ad – content continues below

Or one of them. If it is a conspiracy, we should at least be able to narrow down its conspirators. Chief Constable Bellamy Gould (if we’re to believe Jack, and there’s no reason not to) was the sort of child abuser depressingly familiar in recent decades, a prominent man who attaches himself to foundations like Rachel’s that give him access to vulnerable children. Gould framed Jack for the murder to silence those accusations and as revenge for Jack’s affair with his wife, then presumably followed through on his promise to have Jack’s “head kicked in half.”

The Chief Constable had his own motive to silence Dr Calgary (Luke Treadaway being tremendous, yet again), who is able to prove Jack’s innocence. Was Gould, though, acting alone? Leo, Gwenda and maid Kirsten all knew of the Doctor’s plans to go to the police.

Oh, the life of the faithful retainer in a big house. When Kirsten isn’t sparing her mistress’ blushes by covering up her charge’s naked bum with a champagne cloth or cleaning the windows with yesterday’s newspaper, she’s listening at doorways, locking herself in nuclear bunkers and ominously plaiting her hair with secrets. For whose benefit, I wonder, was that Sound of Music/scream-therapy outing? Hers, or the children’s? Philip was right about her; she knows much more than she’s saying. Next week’s finale will reveal all.

Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode here.