The second series of Unforgotten has a much more satisfying mystery this time around, and an unexpected twist
Khan: We're talking about a crime that occurred a good decade before the oldest current teacher was even born.
Last week's episode of Unforgotten ended with a heck of a revelation. David Walker, the murdered man, turned out to have been a victim of sexual abuse during his teenage years. Suddenly everything about his lifestyle - the being into running clubs, the drinking, the coke, the prostitutes, the constant cheating on the wife - all fell into place. Things even get more interesting when our one character from David's past who isn't a suspect, James Gregory, reveals several useful pieces of information: David never told his wife Tessa, he did find he abuser just before he died, and he did confront said abuser, who apparently threatened him. But the situation only gets more complicated when it comes out David Walker left behind victims of his own.
Speaking of his wife, Tessa's job busts her down to the back office. It's not because they think she did it, it's protocol. But considering what a terrible human we're learning she was married to, and how long she'd been free and independent of him, seeing him wreck her life from beyond the grave is cruel, even if she is the Number 1 suspect. Though considering DS Khan's response to Walker's past, one suspects if it were up to him, and it turned out Tessa did it, he'd thank her and leave.
Since Tessa's kind of a hard lady, the show tries to give the "sympathetic victim role" in this scenario to her son Jason. Like the first season, the show wants DCI Stuart to have someone she feels like she's doing the right thing for by solving the case. But unlike Jimmy Sullivan's mother, Jason is clearly disturbed, and frankly creepy as hell. What memories is he repressing? As for Stuart's sympathy, for heaven's sake, he assaults Stuart when he overhears the revelations about his father. I don't blame Tessa's husband Paul one bit for taking his daughter and leaving.
In terms of a murder mystery, this is far more gripping than the Jimmy Sullivan case from the first season. But by running the two seasons back to back, Masterpiece accidentally reveals how formulaic the rest of the suspects are.
Khan: Oh yeah, understanding pedophiles. Nice.
In one corner, we have Colin, who is in our Sir Philip Cross character position. He was already a man with anger issues even before he was trying to constantly pay off Tyler, the father of the child he and his partner Simon are working to adopt. The way he threatens Tyler upon giving him the money is pretty terrible too. It doesn't improve the optics when the high powered bank he worked for up until right around the time Walker died close ranks instantly upon being asked about the circumstances of Colin's departure. But in the end, it turns out he has the most solid alibi of anyone. His departure from the bank was due to a nervous breakdown, and he was hospitalized starting before the murder took place all the way until September.
In terms of having one's life wrecked, a la Elizabeth Wilton, watching Sara Mahmoud, who is most likely the most innocent party, tugs at the heartstrings. She's trying to keep her past under wraps, but the constant pushing of the cops lead her to confess her past to her husband. It's religious beliefs rather than race relations this time, but it's the same general emotional story, down to the detail where they get overheard by one of her sons, who then blabbermouths it to everyone else. The entire family melts down, and her career is kaput. By the way, she's the other with a seemingly unshakeable alibi, though there's still no hard proof she's telling the truth about being out of the country.
Marion has inappropriate relationships and exhibits boundariless wonder behavior, which pegs her as a variation on Season 1's Father Rob. Oddly enough, when she finally gets pulled into the investigation, she doesn't freak out over the murder but over being reminded she was once found guilty of assaulting a police officer during a protest. Turns out that's because it was a pro-IRA protest, and the woman she lived with during that time did years in prison for some of the IRA bombings of that era. So we've got a victim who throws Tory party fundraisers and one of the suspects was pro-IRA. Like Sara, Marion admits all of this to her husband Tony for the first time, which is a bit like throwing a bomb into her own marriage. (For those curious about the details of the IRA bombings of that era Tony mentions, here's a list.)
But just as it seemed like this was mystery was little more than a retread of Season 1, the show decided to go put a massive twist on it. All of the suspects (except for the wife) have clearly been hurt by Walker at some point. Sara may have had her jaw broken by him in an S&M incident gone wrong. Marion tried to get her IRA friends to kill him, for reasons unknown. (They didn't, he was too small time.) And the incident that caused Colin's nervous breakdown was...he accused of raping a female colleague. Wait, what? Now, yes, I know, rape isn't sexual, its a power play, there was a lot of cocaine going around, etc. But... this doesn't add up. Could Walker have set him up?
But then we get a scene where all three of them meet up at the back of a pub. Not only are they clearly guilty of something, but somehow, they've been able to get in touch with each other, something our Season 1 batch never thought, or were even able to do. How? Why? Perhaps this was not an individual crime after all.
As the revelations keep coming that Walker attended pedophile ring gatherings and brought victims with him, it starts to look like a Murder on the Orient Express type situation. All our suspects may really be all child victims of David Walker, not just adult ones, and they may have all planned for revenge together.
If his wife didn't just find out what he is and kill him herself anyway. We'll discover the answer next week when Unforgotten concludes.