Suspects Series 2 review: Jack Weston reports from the naughty corner
Suspects concluded its second series last week, after two gripping double-bill specials and two new investigations for DS Jack Weston (Damien), DI Martha Bellamy (Fay Ripley) and DC Charlie Steele (Clare-Hope Ashitey).
The new series was a high impact affair and an extraordinarily arresting bit of crime drama, so rich in twisty-turny plots and character intrigue, so fast paced with multi-layered, complex and galvanising storylines, so well executed by the three leads and so ultra realistic, that watching it was a heightened, all consuming and immersive televisual experience, leaving you buzzing, breathless and in awe.
As series 1 confirmed, the thing that sets Suspects apart from other cop dramas is its unique formula: documentary style filming techniques + dialogue entirely improvised by the actors based on a plot description + no contextual / personal character details = innovative, real, engaging drama. Story arcs are completely case driven and the ‘no going home with the detectives’ principle was not compromised in series 2 – a good thing too because not only is it integral to the show’s USP, but it adds a goodly amount of intrigue and makes the tiny insights we are given into the characters all the more compelling and tantalising. But the new storylines had an added dimension (excitingly for us Damien fans) revolving around Detective Sergeant Jack Weston and living up to its rep for gritty, dark subject matter, the episodes brought two tough cases for the team but particularly for Jack, who became over-involved in both.
The first 2 part special, (Episodes 1 and 2) opens with an investigation into a brutal attack on Jonathan Moxton, found at the scene by paranoid schizophrenic Saul Hammond (Dominic Power), who becomes the team’s first suspect. Particularly Jack’s, who has his sights set so firmly on Saul as the attacker it clouds his judgement, causing his usual uncanny intuition to misfire, even when more evidence appears and more names are added to the suspects board.
His tunnel vision and consequent hot-headedness causes problems with the case and tensions within the team, resulting in some firey exchanges with colleague Charlie..
..and some concerned words and warnings from “Boss” Martha, even asking if she needs to take him off the case.
It transpires that Jack has mental health issues in his family, his brother was a paranoid schizophrenic and in the past had attacked his Mother, later going on to commit suicide. Jack does not want his personal history to affect his detective work, but it is only further down the road in the investigation when more attacks occur and it becomes undeniable that Saul could not have been the perpetrator, that he manages to let his fixation go.
In the end, it is Saul’s ‘responsible adult’ Sadie Burns (Katie Jarvis) who has committed the attacks, and Saul himself becomes one of her victims. The story’s conclusion sees Charlie finding a concerned off duty Jack sitting at the hospital checking Saul’s outlook for recovery.
The second 2-part special (Episodes 3 and 4) opens with a news report on an amateur paedophile hunter (Scott Freeman) having been attacked and now in a critical condition in hospital. When his daughter Rose (Frieda Thiel) is pulled in for questioning she tells the detectives she had been raped 8 years earlier. Both strands of the case ultimately lead the team to a dance studio run by Edward (Alexander Kirk) and Tamsin Shaffer (Gillian Kearney).
On first meeting Edward Shaffer, Jack’s killer instinct kicks in, convinced from the get-go that he is the bad guy. Shaffer becomes Jack’s one and only target, and he is so focused on getting the collar that he oversteps the mark, and resulting in Shaffer threatening to make a formal complaint against him.
But when Jack’s prime suspect is released due to insufficient evidence, he decides to take matters into his own hands by removing evidence (a grey towel from the dance studio) from a crime scene and planting it in Edward Shaffer’s bin. Interrupted in the act before he can carry it out, Jack doesn’t follow through with his intention.
As if Jack wasn’t already appearing to be taking the law into his own hands, we then see him leaning over Shaffer’s dead body, with blood on his hands, and for one moment we wonder, would his killer instinct go that far?
The fact that the question even crosses our minds is a reality check, how far would Jack go to get justice? So driven to achieve the end goal by increasingly less appropriate means, it is beginning to affect his approach to victims, attitude to suspects and his relationship with Charlie and Martha, and Jack seems to be heading closer to the point of no return.
After a change of clothes back at HQ, a solitary moment where Jack’s facial expressions betray his secrecy and the potential shadiness of his actions, Jack finally hands over the evidence.
Martha questions why he left it so late, calling him into her office later on to ask why he was already at the Shaffers’ house at the time of the murder, before the call came through about the new evidence. By this time, it has become a high profile case and the Detective Chief Inspector also wants to know why the car tracker shows Jack arrived prematurely at what ended up being a murder scene.
Jack claims he went to apologise to Edward to try and smooth things over, and avoid the formal complaint.
“You are a liar Jack”
“What do you want me to say?”
In the end, it turns out Jack’s gut feeling had been right about Shaffer, as the team uncovered not only enough solid evidence to convict him, but also discovered that the crime had been far bigger and more hideous then even he first imagined.
Once the case is solved, we are left wondering if there will be any consequences for Jack and his career. In a private chat on the rooftop, Martha tells him in no uncertain terms that she knows he had planned to plant evidence, that he is right on the edge and she has a good mind to give him a push. She is fed up with holding his hand, but had pulled strings and used up some favours to cover his back.
Jack humours her with an insincere apology and ends up with an enforced 6 week holiday instead of any action being taken against him. He seems less than happy with the outcome, but whether he feels any regret for his actions or intentions is hard to tell, a fascinating ambiguity played superbly by Damien.
Damien himself is not giving anything away, reporting on his Twitter page as Jack Weston from ‘the naughty corner’ after the final episode of the series had aired.
Damien Molony (@damienmolony) August 29, 2014
We get the feeling Martha knew exactly where she would be sending Jack, when Fay Ripley posted the mirror photo on her Twitter page earlier in the year, during summer filming for the latest series:
Jack is no where to be seen http://t.co/2jvHxRiXgL—
Fay Ripley (@FayRipley) June 20, 2014
At just four episodes it may have been short, but series 2 was perfectly formed. We cannot wait for the show to return with series 3 in 2015, and to find out what Jack got up to in the naughty corner. Will he have thought long and hard about what he has done? Will he come back a changed detective?
We hope not, because watching his wild Weston ways, and enjoying the scope it allows the actor who brings them to life, is our big guilty pleasure. Plus, being drawn a little deeper in to Jack’s world with an extra focus on (and complexity in) his character adds even greater power to an already absorbing, edgy, dynamic show.
Now the dust has settled after the series, we are left with an indelible knowing we’ve been blessed with something overwhelmingly amazing and new, by a show that knows it leaves us wanting more.
Suspects Series 2 is available on Demand 5 until August 2015.
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