WARNING, THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS.
Episode 2 saw progressively more aspersions cast as to the moral turpitude of the chocolate box cul-de-sac of the show’s setting (not a sentence I thought I’d be writing this week), with bluffs, double bluffs and presumably triple bluffs galore to boot. Daniel Reid (Darren Boyd), father of the victim, began to act distinctly shiftily, forcing his wife Claire, played by the marvellous Katherine Kelly, to doubt not only their marriage but everything she had so far gleaned about the death of her son. Meanwhile, in a plot arc I’m still not entirely sure of the point of, despite its obvious merit in terms of subject matter, the son of DC Maggie Brand (Tamsin Greig) is put under scrutiny as potentially being on the autism spectrum, putting a strain on both her professional life and her marriage. Putting all this to one side however she still manages to interview both the former nanny of the Reid boys, as well as deal with this series’ ‘slightly odd villager’ stock character.
This, naturally, brought us on to the finale. It would be fair to say that it did not have anywhere near the level of closure hype as the finale of Broadchurch or even the inferior MayDay, due at least in part to it being such a short run. I, at least, still found myself intrigued as to who the murderer wold turn out to be, ever unable to resist a good old fashion whodunit. By this point DC Brand had a confession on her hands, but unfortunately not one she believed. Running out of options, she is forced to consider the possibility that the answer may lie a little closer to the deceased boy’s home than anyone would like to believe, especially as Daniel Reid’s alibi begins to unravel through the unwitting handiwork of former lover Teresa (Ruta Gedmintas). As the show reached its, actually rather chilling climax, the focus began to fall on the Reid children themselves, as well as upon the condition of young Sam, as his autism symptoms took a dramatic turn for the worse.
Again, whilst nothing about this mini-series felt new and exciting, the big reveal at the end certainly did pack a punch. Not in the same league as Broadchurch, no, but it did have its own shock factor to bring to the table. All in all the ending felt far more resolved than its ITV Drama predecessor, which I think it’s fair to say will come to work both for it and against it in terms of posterity. From episode one, it has been the central performances of Katherine Kelly and Tamsin Greig which have held the show together, with Kelly’s raw emotional exposure and vulnerability as the victim’s traumatised mother clashing nicely with the measured, uptight career lady next door of Greig’s DC under pressure. This remained the case throughout, and the show was all the better for it.
The Guilty could just have benefited from the elusive ‘little bit more’ in so many areas. More twists, more suspects, particularly as it only ever really felt like there were two, heck perhaps even more episodes, just to allow what was a genuinely strong and well-constructed script the space to develop.
It all needed a chance, really, and it’s just a shame it didn’t get it.