Channel 5’s ‘Suspects’ is top of the cop shows: Episode 3 review
Suspects Series 1 Episode 3
Written by Paul Marquess, directed by Craig Pickles
Channel 5, 10 pm 26 February 2014.
When the team go on the hunt for a serial rapist, George Callahan (Peter O’Connor), recently released from prison and who followed the same MO for his former crimes, becomes their first suspect. But with his house under constant CCTV surveillance since his release and a watertight alibi confirmed by his partner Annette Walker (Annabelle Apsion), he seems to be innocent. The investigation becomes challenging and complicated when the identity of the victim is discovered to be Diane Ackerman (Susan Vidler ), the wife of the Chief Superintendent, Howard Ackerman (Greg Truter). There is a history of domestic violence in their relationship, making him suspect number 2. The third suspect is the Diane’s boss, Andrew Bourne (Mason Phillips) who it is revealed made a pass at her and was rejected on the day of the rape and was spotted on cctv footage near her house the night of the attack. The investigation goes in even more sinister direction when team discover the identity of someone Diane met in an online domestic abuse forum the evening of the rape.
Episode 1 was compelling and showed us that Suspects was going to be gripping and utterly absorbing in its storylines and investigations; episode 2 brought us a sense of the characters and the detective team dynamic with oodles of sass and humour; but episode 3 is greater than the sum of those parts, a coming together of all elements that make this top of the cop shows.
The third installment of Suspects confirms that its unique format works. Each self-contained crime story beginning with a brief news report, we do not see the crime, and we do not see any back story or world context for the characters. Instead we are plunged into the investigation alongside the detectives, in a dramentary that completely involves us in the action from the very get go. As evidence unfolds before us and the detectives interview the suspects and try to put together the pieces of the puzzle of the case, so do we.
The lack of personal detail about the team means we also end up watching the detectives not just in a passive sense, but watching with an added layer of investigative enquiry; how will DS Jack Weston, DI Marth Bellamy and DC Charlie react to the situation, evidence, suspect? Who will find the ultimate piece of evidence? who will get the collar? And not only that, but we search for clues to their character and their relationship to each other.
The detectives face a challenging case this week and watching them unravel the evidence brings us ever more close to their working style and methods.
Jack has a gut feeling early on in the episode, which proves to be correct in the end as the case comes full circle, but with a harrowing twist no one could have imagined (except, of course, for the brilliant writers). His interviewing style is the most compelling to watch as Damien brings a level of performance that seems to make the air crackle, even in the dialogue free moments.
In each episode there has been a direct look to camera, adding to the documentary feel of the drama. For this reviewer, one such shot was a favourite moment in this episode, when Jack, having a strong gut feeling about suspect number 1 (George Callaham), shows his frustration with Martha’s comment about him.
The improv was impressive this week, with Fay Ripley really coming into her own as firm but fair, witty and wise DI Martha, Clare Ashitey bringing a strong, sassy and incisive DC Charlie Steele, and Damien confirming Jack as a passionate, intuitive and feisty Jack Weston.
The dialogue felt more polished and easily spontaneous, but the most galvanising moments in Suspects are perhaps those with an ‘over-spontaneity’ of a line (that such a thing can exist, or at least make a person search for a way to describe it, is a direct example of just how groundbreaking and original Suspects is). A perfect example in this epiosde is a scene on the roof with all three actors, when we witness the most natural grin from Jack Weston in reaction to something “boss” Martha says and Charlie’s response to that. We are left wondering if it is actually a smile from Damien in reaction to Fay Ripley, adding another enthralling level to the drama. It is these moments that make Suspects not only compelling but brave.
Despite the fact that it is gritty and realistic, and a fascinating insight into modern-day policing, Suspects is unique drama that somehow defies categorization. The camera techniques and improv, the completely self-contained within the investigation story make it ultra ‘real’, but at the end of the hour we are left with a sense of having witnessed a masterpiece of storytelling and performance. Although Suspects is at the opposite end of the spectrum from slick crime shows, there is an unequivocal sense that it is an incredibly complete, intelligent, exciting and original (in the true sense of the word) drama.
Watch Suspects episode 3 on Channel 5 Demand.
Don’t miss the next episode of Suspects, Wednesday 5 March 10 pm on channel 5.
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