Contains spoilers for all episodes of The Suspect
The end of episode three of ITV’s The Suspect, based on Michael Robotham’s book, found our Doctor Joe O’Loughlin (Aidan Turner) almost at rock bottom. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
The case against him for the murder of Catherine is looking pretty strong in the eyes of detective Devi and Ruiz based on very strange behaviour from Joe (he has fibbed A LOT) as well as circumstantial evidence all pointing in his direction. He’s either guilty, or someone really is out to get him.
Could it be his long time friend Doctor Gerald Owen (Adam James) aka Jack – who has the same initials as him? Jack heads to the police to come clean that he was the J.O. in Catherine’s journal which has now been discovered.
A few words about Jack and his inconsistent behaviour. Jack is a surgeon and worked with Joe in the past. We now learn that Catherine went to Jack to talk about Joe (presumably the assault allegation). Jack then embarks on an affair with Catherine, stood as a character witness for Joe against Catherine’s claims, and then some years later encouraged her to apply for a job working as Joe’s receptionist, providing a reference for her. “Why?” Joe rightly asks. “Why not?” says Jack. See above for the multitude of reasons. So Jack’s not out of the frame as far as we are concerned, though the police only have one person in their sights.
The police think Joe’s desperate attempts to try to find the actual killer could be some ridiculously elaborate scheme of Joe’s to become detective for his own case in order to deflect the blame from him. “If that’s Joe’s game plan,” Ruiz speculates, “then what’s his next move?” Frankly if that’s Joe’s game plan it’s not a very good one.
And now Joe has gone to visit Cara, his alibi, only to find she has been killed by strangulation. He, of course, runs. And the police, without doing the relevant forensics, immediately assume it’s Joe.
At this point, The Suspect has moved far away from being reality adjacent, allowing us, the viewer, to go along for a plausibility-free ride. And while the show is nonsense of the highest order, the performances and production values are strong.
So, back to Bobby Moran née Morgan (Bobby Schofield). A chance conversation between Joe and his stepmother reveals that Bobby had apparently been working as a handyman for their family. He carved her a whale (he loves a whale – is Joe his White Whale?!), and even encouraged her to learn Spanish. Oh god… but Joe’s wife is a Spanish teacher…
Not generally speaking at home to Mr. Coincidence, (the question “Who would win in a fight between a Lion and a Tiger?” is a key clue because no one’s ever asked that before), The Suspect’s pieces begin to fall into place. This appears to be a very elaborate long-term plan on Bobby’s behalf and now his scheme is becoming clear. This is a tale of revenge, and it’s bigger than anyone could have imagined. It’s also a perfect storm of people not telling each other things and making stupid decisions. But crime drama was ever thus.
And let’s not forget we still have one episode to go, with many questions still on the table. The stakes for Joe are ramping up, with him in the frame for two murders (and counting…), fears for his wife and child become more real and the possibility now there that Bobby has been carrying out a reign of terror around those he believes are responsible for his father’s suicide for some time. If he is the mastermind he would have to be, then Joe could be in bigger trouble than just from the useless cops.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the plumber in shining armour, DJ (Tom McKay). So far he’s been nothing but pleasant, if not a little flirty, with the O’Loughlins. In ep four he arrives to chase off Bobby who is being a menace to Mrs O’Loughlin (Camilla Beeput). And when Joe really thinks she and their daughter are in trouble he tells his wife to take their child and get in the car – but to take DJ with them. That is some serious plumbing and beyond right there.
It’s easy to get caught up in the outlandishness of the show, but you can’t fault the twistyness, and we would be wildly surprised if further plot points aren’t incoming. Let’s hope the motive for the murder of at least two innocent young women isn’t revenge on a man. Come back next week for more!
The Suspect airs ITV on Mondays at 9pm, the series is available on ITV Hub.