PBS’ new series, DI Ray, took its sweet time setting up the characters in last week’s premiere, introducing Rachita Ray (Parminder Nagra) as a tenacious officer promoted to Homicides investigating the murder of Imran Aziz, who was feuding with his girlfriend Anjuli’s family and caught up in some shady business. But as Ray regains consciousness after last week’s cliffhanger with PS Khatri (Maanuv Thiara) by her side, Episode 2 starts to pay off with plenty of interpersonal conflicts as a backdrop for Ray’s investigation. Ray wants to continue investigating despite her injury until her boss, Henderson (Gemma Whelan), arrives and tells Ray to lay off the case.
Ray: “They don’t rate me, none of them do.”
As is becoming standard, Ray refuses; unstoppable force meets immovable object. She complies with Henderson’s demands that she go to the hospital, even though the interaction feels less about Ray’s health and more about a power trip for Henderson. At the hospital, Ray looks young and vulnerable, alone in her hospital gown, the first time she’s seemed less than fully capable. It’s refreshing to see her with her guard down. Ray’s parents, Dev (Ezra Faroque Khan) and Debo (Shobu Kapoor), and her fiance Martyn arrive, friendly, united in their love for Ray, but Martyn notices silently Ray isn’t wearing her engagement ring. (Ray hasn’t told her parents, and she hasn’t met Martyn’s.)
Unsurprisingly, Ray returns to work as soon as she can, shrugging off a concussion, and learns that Anjuli’s car has been discovered next to a canal. She goes to the scene and finds the car with alcohol and pills strewn inside. This is Ray’s first time (that we see) arriving at a crime scene, and the suspense develops perfectly. It pays off in a gruesome scene where Anjuli’s body is lifted from the canal. Other officers assume Anjuli has died by suicide, but Ray quickly rules it out. After all, why would Anjuli choose to die while she still had so much that she wanted to tell Ray about her boyfriend’s murder?
The episode detours from the case as Henderson uses the attack to insist Ray see a therapist, Zehra Abidi (Viss Eliot Safavi). Ray verbalizes the delicate way her colleagues treated her since the attack as just a layer on top of the way she already felt unduly judged by them. She’s constantly working to prove she deserves to be there. Ray also recalls hearing her father called a racial slur and the mix of embarrassment, anger, and blame she felt. “When people say it to your face… at least you can prove it,” Ray tells Abidi. Ray later tells Martyn she has never talked about any of this, so that’s a win for the merits of therapy.
Tests show Anjuli wasn’t drowned in the canal; Dr. Clacy (Nicola Alexis) guesses Anjuli was likely drowned in a bathtub with a towel to mask fingerprints or abrasions. Navin Kapoor (Ryan McKen) is subsequently arrested again, as a friend of Anjuli’s reported him arguing with her, and the police assume he killed her. Navin says they argued because he didn’t want Anjuli to go to the police. “You see all that police brutality?" Navin says, "It’s not just in the US.” The police presumably drop their suspicions of Navin as that’s the last we see of him. Meanwhile, an analysis of Imran’s phone shows only one other number. Ray’s team deduces “tango and cash,” which Anjuli used to describe Imran’s business, is code for fentanyl.
That night, Ray finally has a minute to herself for a relaxing bath — only to be interrupted by an unseen assailant in her bathroom who rudely attempts to drown her with a towel. Martyn arrives (suspiciously) in time to scare off the assailant, although he (conveniently) doesn’t see them leave. The timing is too good to be an accident. There must be more to Ray’s boring fiancé than serving as a narrative window into Ray’s personal life.* Ray is determined not to seem affected by the attack, but she tells the other officers that she believes someone is trying to intimidate her into dropping the case. New security footage shows an unidentified man with Anjuli’s car in the hours after the park incident.
*Maybe it’s the Broadchurch fan in me (spoilers for a 10-year-old show), but the thought of an investigator’s partner being tied to the crime is irresistible.
Despite this exciting lead, it’s time for a foray into family drama, as Martyn hosts Ray and his parents meeting for the first time. His parents are predictably awkward, trying to be overly sensitive about race, alienating Ray further by making it clear it’s the first thing on their minds. Ray is rescued by a call saying that Kabir Kapoor (Manpreet Bachu) has been taken into custody after getting violent at a bar and requested to speak with Ray. Ray is all too eager to escape the family dinner, and she rushes to the scene. Kabir tells her that Anjuli and Imran fought over his business the night Imran was killed and that Anjuli knew that Imran would meet one of his suspicious business contacts the night he was killed.
Once again, the Kapoor brothers offer a too-convenient detour for the plot. By this point, it’s hard to believe they will have anything to do with the crime aside from being related to Anjuli. Of course, they’re here to illustrate the ease with which the police place the blame on South Asian men, but aside from that, their interludes only serve to slow down the plot. While there have been moments of excellent suspense so far, these scenes with the Kapoor brothers (and the ones with Henderson) feel like they were copy-pasted from the previous episode. There was enough tension to keep it engaging in the moment, but the episode probably could have been half as long and not lost much.
Despite the late hour, Ray calls her whole team in to follow up on Kabir’s new information, including PS Khatri. She and Khatri make coffee and have a (potentially slightly romantically charged) conversation about their dating histories. If there ends up being something between them, it would be a predictable but not terrible twist. Ray certainly deserves someone more interesting than Martyn, and thanks to Martyn, we know she has a history of dating other officers.
With all the feelings and family drama out of the way, it’s time for the episode’s climax, and it’s a doozy. The number on Imran’s burner phone is connected to a man named Nick Davies. What’s more, Imran’s car is identified in footage from a shipping container yard shortly before his murder. Ray and the other officers suspect it is a link to his alleged drug trafficking. Ray and Khatri head to the site.
While they’re en route, Henderson calls, naturally upset that they have been moving forward without her explicit permission. (We can only hope she’ll be given more depth beyond boss-in-Ray’s-way next week.) Since she’s just there to distract rather than help, Henderson’s disapproval doesn’t deter Ray (of course it doesn’t, it never does), and she and Khatri arrive at the shipping yard. They locate the container associated with Imran’s business, and when they open it, they are in for a shock.
Inside are not drugs or weapons, but bodies, probably around ten in all, men and women. (I am not embarrassed to admit I screamed just a little.) Most of them lie still, some holding hands. They are presumably dead, but Ray calls for an ambulance anyway. One young man is alive, but barely. The episode ends with Ray staring down Henderson as she says, “Honour crime, my arse.”