Save Me Series 1 Recap: What Happened Last Time?

As series two lands on Sky this week, here’s a summary of what happened in London thriller Save Me’s first series. Spoilers ahead…

Lennie James in Save Me
Photo: World Productions

Warning: contains major spoilers for Save Me series one.

Save Me Too, the new six-episode series from writer-actor Lennie James, takes place 17 months after the conclusion of the first run, when Nelly Rowe’s search for his kidnapped 13-year-old daughter led him to the discovery of another underage girl he rescued from child abusers.

In the year and a half Jody has been missing, the trial of Gideon Charles and investigation into her disappearance is ongoing. Jody’s mother Claire (Suranne Jones) is struggling to come to terms with her daughter’s absence, while Nelly (James) is determined to continue the search despite friends at the South-East London Towers Estate telling him it might be time to move on.

As the new episodes arrive on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV, here’s a reminder of what happened in series one.

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Who took Jody?

Luke (Alexander Arnold) and Gavin (Ragevan Vasan), two students who frequented the Towers Estate’s Palm Tree pub and who had a rivalry with Nelly based on run-ins they’d had in the past, tracked Jody down online based on things Nelly had said about his family life during a lock-in at the pub. To hurt Nelly, they posed as him online and chatted to Jody who thought she was talking to the biological father she hadn’t seen since the age of three.

Initially, that was as far as it was supposed to go, but Luke, a conscienceless, nasty piece of work, lured Jody out, telling her that she was going to stay with her biological dad’s family. He’d made a deal online with a child abuse trafficking ring run by Gideon Charles (Ade Edmondson) to ‘sell’ Jody, so when she went to meet her ‘dad’, she was picked up by the abusers and held temporarily in a house in Streatham, then sold to an unknown bidder at Gideon Charles’ auction.

What happened to Luke and Gavin?

When Nelly’s friend Goz (Thomas Coombes) discovered a photograph of Jody in Gavin’s bedroom, and confronted him. Tormented by guilt over his role in Jody’s kidnapping, Gavin killed himself by stepping into traffic. At Gavin’s wake in The Palm Tree, Luke accidentally let slip that Jody had been chatting online about her “grandma’s saltfish dumplings” – information that the police hadn’t released to the public – incriminating himself.

Nelly realised that Luke was the one posing as him online to Jody so locked him inside the pub and confronted him in front of the regulars. Teens’ son Marky beat Luke, and he confessed to having lured Jody out as a way of getting back at Nelly for his hostility, but refused to say where she was being held. Nelly chained him up and delivered him to DS O’Halloran, but Luke was released and pressed charges against Nelly and Marky for the beating.

Claire then begged Luke for information about Jody and agreed to exchange it for sex, but Luke was unable to perform, so Claire sexually assaulted him until he gave her the address where he’d collected the money for selling Jody. When Nelly arrived at the place, Jody wasn’t there but he found and rescued another girl.

Was Melon involved with Jody’s disappearance?

No, but Nelly suspected him because he was the first of The Palm Tree regulars brought in for police questioning due to being on the sex offenders register after serving time in prison for sexual activity with a minor. When Melon (Stephen Graham) met his current girlfriend Bernie (Alice May Feetham) she was underage and he was a youth worker running activities for children. They started a sexual relationship with she was 15, for which he went to prison. After his sentence, Bernie waited for him and they moved away when her family refused to have anything to do with him.

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Cloaking his online identity, Melon visited child abuse websites in order to look for Jody. Nelly forced him to infiltrate a child sex abuse ‘brothel’ run from a private member’s club by paedophile Richard, “the granddaddy of them all” according to Nelly’s friend Zita, who was abused by Richard and his friends as a child. To test Melon’s ‘credentials’ as it were, Richard set him up with an underage girl in the club. Melon told Bernie that he “barely touched her”, to which Bernie tersely replied “like you ‘barely touched’ me?”

Melon, disgusted by the thought that he could be like Richard, went to the club and held Richard at knife point. That caused Richard to shut up the place and disappear, stopping the trail dead.

Who was Nelly’s girlfriend in series one?

Teens (Kerry Godliman), a local on the Towers Estate who works selling cosmetics door-to-door. Nelly was living with her and her grown-up son Marky when he was hauled in for police questioning after Jody’s disappearance. Nelly took Teens’ car to search for Jody, borrowed money from her and used her door-to-door supplies to look for Jody around London.

When Marky discovered that Nelly was cheating on his mum with multiple women – including Zita (Camilla Beeput) a single mother to her young son, dancer at the strip club where Nelly worked, former sex worker and victim of child sexual abuse – he and his friends beat Nelly savagely and threw him out.

What is Claire’s history?

Suranne Jones’ character used to be part of The Palm Tree crowd and had a passionate relationship with Nelly before leaving him when Jody was born and marrying music promoter Barry McGory (Barry Ward). When Jody was three, Barry adopted her and that was the last time Nelly saw his daughter, never giving her much thought.

Claire and Barry, who had a grown-up son from a previous relationship, enjoyed a wealthy lifestyle in a luxurious house with expensive cars. When Jody went missing, Barry offered a £50k reward for information about her return, wrongly thinking it would delay the repayment of 100k debt he secretly owed to local drug dealers with whom he’d made a deal in his music venues.

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Claire and Nelly reconnected during the search for Jody, having sex at one point, and she rekindled her friendships with the other Palm Tree regulars, landlady Stace (Susan Lynch), Tam (Jason Flemyng) and Nelly’s other ex, Teens.

Who are The Palm Tree regulars?

Goz – always full of trivia and strange facts – is Nelly’s most trusted friend on the Estate, and Daisy (Remmie Milner) is Goz’s partner and mother to his children.

Cross-dressing Tam (Jason Flemyng) is another good friend, while Nelly’s oldest mate is Stace, the landlady at The Palm Tree, who inherited the pub from her parents and who’s known Nelly since they were kids.

What happened at the auction?

Nelly raised 12k from Claire to bid for Jody undercover at the auction, lead by child abuse trafficker Gideon Charles, but was outbid and when he protested, was beaten up and ejected by security.

Who is DS Shola O’Halloran?

Played by Nadine Marshall, O’Halloran is the police officer working on Jody’s missing person’s case. She questions Nelly at the beginning, and forges a kind of kinship with him over the course of the investigation, becoming a kind of ally.

Who was the girl Nelly found at the end of series one?

Grace (Olive Grey), who’d been held captive in a caravan in a lock-up at the address Luke gave Claire. Initially, Nelly thought she was Jody, but realised she was another, similar-looking girl. DS O’Halloran brought Grace to see Nelly months after he rescued her and she thanked him, and said she was now living with a foster family.

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Where is Jody now?

That is the question. She was being held by Gideon Charles’ gang, and Grace told Nelly that there were other girls kept where she was chained up, in the caravans, but she didn’t know who they were. The last evidence of Jody was the blood-stained green hoodie Nelly and Claire discovered at the empty Streatham house they tracked her to early on. The search continues in series two.

All episodes of Save Me Too arrive on Sky and NOW TV on Wednesday April 1st.