The Bay episode 4 review: an unexpected discovery is made

Spoilers ahead in our review of The Bay’s latest episode…

This review contains spoilers. 

Fair play, The Bay. Just when it seemed as though we were going to spend the rest of the series stuck in a loop of Lisa probing Shaun’s alibis and Med making tea, the show made an unexpected move. Holly’s been found, alive, with two episodes to go.  

Huh, you’d be right in thinking. What’s going to happen now? Is this whole thing going to be wrapped up next week, so the last hour can be spent on recipes and home improvement? DI Manning’s tips for a bountiful tomato crop? DS Armstrong’s guide to creating the perfect smoky eye? 

By diverting from the crime drama template for the first time,The Bayhas opened up its field of possibilities. Now we can’t rely on episode six being a race to track down Holly Meredith, episode six will require new peril. 

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Handily, DS Armstrong’s children are both up to their necks in the stuff and showing no sign of doing the sensible thing and telling their copper mum about it. Even Nana Penny’s being kept in the dark, despite her mardy grandkids repeatedly getting in the way of her relationship with nice Tom. (If nice Tom turns out to be the hiding-in-plain-sight criminal kingpin running this whole show, she’ll be glad that the teens kept interrupting every cosy glass of wine and night out at Harvester.)

Nice Tom is almost certainly nothing to do with it, but as The Bay’s central thesis has yet to present itself, it wouldn’t be an impossible development. Every cop drama has a central thesis. Broadchurch’s was about resilience and survival, Unforgotten’s is about the emotional toll of crime on victim, perpetrator and investigator, Marcella’s is about Anna Friel wearing coats. What is The Bay’s? 

So far, its outlook seems to be about the destructive nature of secrets. Every character who kept a secret is facing real trouble. Rob from his online blackmail. Abbie from her violent drug dealer. Nick from helping Holly to hide. Shaun from his vigilante action and extra-marital goings-on. And Ryan from his hidden banknotes and missing 25 minutes on the night Dylan was murdered. Ryan’s secret may also extend to the somewhat more serious matter of him having killed his nephew, though he’s still too perfect a fit for the perp at this early stage.

Lisa’s secret – that she covered up her liaison with Shaun on that same night – is another unexploded bomb. This episode she outlined the likeliest course of action should it be discovered – suspension, probable loss of her job. Unless The Bay’smoral stanceturns out to be one of hard-nosed cynicism where wrongdoers flourish while the innocent suffer (unlikely), Lisa’s lie is also set to explode.

Before it does, will she be able to save her kids? Abbie and Rob have been a mirror of sorts for Holly and Dylan, about whom we garnered a clearer picture this week. (Holly’s nice, Dylan was a bit of a sod, and a few months before all this, something drove a wedge between them.) Now that the Meredith girl’s been found alive, it seems the Armstrong teenagers are the ones in danger.