Nicola Walker Returns to Solve Cases on Water in 'Annika'

Picture Shows: Nicola Walker as DI Annika Strandhed in Annika

Nicola Walker as DI Annika Strandhed in 'Annika'


Annika begins like most contemporary set British crime series, with a body, a dark and rainy night, a detective, and a delicate indie-type theme song. One might argue that Anton Newcombe and Dot Allison's "Bringing Murder to the Land" is slightly more appropriate than Oh Wonder's "All We Do" from Unforgotten. However, the latter cast Nicola Walker with hopes of a hit series, while the former is turning an already-existing hit BBC Radio 4 series starring Walker into a TV series with assumptions of its automatic hit status. The musical choices reflect it.

Annika: Let's take it as read we've done the name games and trust exercises and get started.

"Call me Annika," Walker tells the camera as she steps from the car. DI Annika Strandhed, to be precise, and yes, she's talking to us. (Walker is the narrator in the radio series as well.) She has to, as her daughter Morgan (Silvie Furneaux) points out the next day, as Annika takes her by police boat to school, her mother doesn't have any friends. It's Morgan's first day, and she's convinced everyone will think she was arrested. It's her mother's first day, too, having transferred from the Oslo setting of the audio series to Glasgow, and she's already mistaking boss DCI Oban (Kate Dickie)'s office for her own.

Annika is in the open concept space along with the rest of her team, DS Michael McAndrews (Jamie Sives), DC Blair Ferguson (Katie Leung), and DS Tyrone Clarke (Ukweli Roach). The body is Arthur Hendry, owner of Aquatic Watch; his wife Isla (Caroline Guthrie) called him missing. Their kids Danny (Christy O'Donnell) and Trish (Kirsty Strain) are with her; Trish says there wasn't much work since the season ended. Danny notes their cousin Finlay Morris (Gavin Jon Wright), who woke up in a bar after passing out overnight, is the only employee currently on the books.

Picture shows: Jamie Sives as Michael and Katie Leung as Blair in 'Annika'

Jamies Sives as Michael and Katie Leung as Blair in 'Annika'


Honestly, what makes this show tick is Walker, who's having a ball as the unself-serious Annika. After four seasons of strident self-righteousness as DCI Cassie Stuart in Unforgotten, there's something refreshing about Annika's lack of management skills. (She skipped the management course in favor of Madrid.) Also, her horrifying dad jokes (using a harpoon as a murder weapon to get the point across) are ridiculous. So is Morgan's life as a sullen teenager, forced to do Shakespeare (The Tempest, natch!), bringing fun to the proceedings. 

Annika does get serious when necessary, like when Isla identifies her husband's body. And she's not here for being left off the call list when the murder scene's identified. She's also not into jumping to conclusions, like when Clarke decides it's Finlay because three Henley family members were seen at dinner. Finlay does run when he finds four cops at the boathouse. However, they don't have anything to charge him with, so his lawyer gets him released. Maybe his lawyer should not have been so quick, as Annika's only been home ten minutes when Finlay's hit by a car, dead before she reaches the hospital. At least the pub has Finley's last phone call to Mandy (Anna Russell-Martin).

Also, his death brings a pigeon, given to Annika by Danny. The pigeon will have to wait, as Oban called a press conference now that there are multiple deaths, causing Annika to be late to her daughter in the fine works of Shakespeare since there's no press officer. She faces reporter Sam Decosta (Saskia Ashdown); McAndrews is no help. When Annika asks why he says he was passed over, he's happy to let Annika hang out to dry. So is Morgan. When her mother finally shows up, she delivers a polemic about hating her new school instead of delivering her lines. Annika throws her hands up and hits the fire alarm as a distraction, handing Morgan the pigeon to carry as they get on the boat.

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Nicola Walker (Unforgotten) stars as DI Annika Strandhed who juggles cases and a daughter.
Annika: show-poster2x3

Mandy teaches crossbow shooting, as Clarke learns when he turns up and finds himself held hostage at point-blank range, with Mandy screaming the case has nothing to do with her. An entire AR unit is called while Annika convinces the woman to let Clarke go and talk to her instead. Mandy used to work for the Hendrys; she plays the incessant paranoid messages Finlay was leaving her, begging for help. Mandy never answered them. After finally talking the girl down, Annika gets home to find Morgan gone, but she just went to the vet with the pigeon, which was having issues.

At the station, Mandy reveals Finlay and Arthur were into illegal hunting, hence the boat having a harpoon. Mandy's bitter against the Hendrys, a former guide; they scapegoated her when the Sutherlands' teenage daughter went overboard and drowned. The Sutherlands, who could not swim, apparently never got over it and sued her into the ground, while the Hendrys changed the name of their company to avoid bad press. But she insists it was the emotionally unstable Danny steering the crafty erratically and should have been charged. Mandy's freak out was the assumption she was being blamed for Arthur's death. But she's fine; she had a rock-solid alibi.

On her way to return the pigeon, Annika sees the Hendrys' neighbor, Denise (Shona McHugh), Trish's friend, who offhand mentions Trish was upset over missing dinner at the restaurant. Annika's eyebrows go all the way up. She searches out Trish, who never said she was at that dinner. Her mother said it, instinctually protecting her. Trish does have an alibi; she met with a corporate company to sell the family's failing business. They only have one boat left anyway, though Danny has a sailboat, which hasn't been seen in a few days. Annika mentions to Trish that Arthur's personal items are being released, his wallet and wedding ring, the latter of which seems to confuse the girl. 

Picture shows: Nicola Walker as Annika in 'Annika' Season 1

Nicola Walker as Annika in 'Annika' Season 1


Clarke visits the Sutherlands to see if they had any contact with the Hendrys and finds the mobility-impaired Mrs. Sutherland on the floor, suffering dehydration. When she is revived, Sutherland says they met with Arthur in town the night he died, but they came home hours before his death. Her husband then got drunk, left, and hasn't returned since. McAndrews tests the mystery DNA from the boathouse and discovers it's Sutherland's; he assumes they've found Arthur's killer, who took Danny's boat in his escape.

Sutherland cannot swim, and people who can't swim don't sail. Moreover, three family members were seen at the restaurant for Arthur's birthday, but not Trish, who knows her dad doesn't wear a wedding ring. A DNA test of "Arthur's body," which his wife so confidently identified, turns out not to be him. It's Sutherland's. Arthur escaped in Danny's boat; however, Annika is pretty sure it wasn't Arthur who did the murder, but the one the family keeps protecting: Danny. When Annika's team catches up to Isla and Danny, hurrying to escape by boat, Danny jumps overboard, but the team fishes him out.

Since drama wasn't doing well, Morgan joined a gymnastics team and made a new friend Femi (Taylor Goodwin). Things are looking up for Annika, too, as she takes her team out to the pub. She gets to know them one by one and makes friends. Annika then takes Morgan out for chips after deciding to keep the pigeon. Maybe Glasgow won't be so bad after all.


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. 

A Woman's Place Is In Your Face. Cat Approved. Find her on BlueSky and other social media of your choice:

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