'Guilt' Would Be a Guilty Pleasure If Someone Felt Some

Credit: Courtesy of Expectation/Happy Tramp North 2019

Mark Bonnar as Max and Jamie Sives as Jake in 'Guilt' Season 1 

Expectation/Happy Tramp North 2019

Set in Edinburgh, Guilt starts with high-powered attorney Max McCall (Mark Bonnar) on his way home from a wedding reception driven by his younger brother Jake (Jamie Sives), neither in a state to be behind the wheel. Suddenly, a pedestrian appears in the middle of the street, and Jake cannot stop in time. Rattled by the accident like any decent human being, Jake wants to call the police. However, reporting the incident will put Jake in jail and ruin Max’s career, so Max convinces him to drag their victim (Walter Wood, according to his ID) back to his home. When no one answers the bell and the door is unlocked, they take Walter inside and pose him in a living room chair.

As Jake stresses over what they’ve done (and failed to do), he leaves his wallet behind. Meanwhile, Max believes they did the guy a favor; Walter had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He gets his car fixed and continues going out for boozy work lunches. When Walter’s obituary finally appears a week later, there’s no suggestion of foul play.

When his wallet turns up, Jake is forced to attend the wake; at the gathering, he is greeted by Angie (Ruth Bradley), Walter’s niece from America and his only remaining family. Tired of waiting in the car, Max joins the wake, and both brothers attach their acquaintance with Walter to music, Jake’s record store, and (less likely) Max’s trumpet playing. After everyone has left, Jake and Angie hit it off over a drink and Walter’s classic vinyl collection.

Jamie Sives as Jake and Mark Bonnar as Max in 'Guilt' Season 1

Jamie Sives as Jake and Mark Bonnar as Max in 'Guilt' Season 1

Expectation/Happy Tramp North

But Angie is not so easily distracted. At her meeting with the solicitor, she was informed that Walter’s legs were a little bruised, but since he was frail and had a terminal condition, there was no autopsy performed. Angie thinks these contusions are suspicious. Later, at the record store, Jake can’t get her off the subject, so he suggests she talk to his lawyer brother, Max. He steps in and offers insider help to the police. At first, Angie seems satisfied when Max reports that the investigating officer found nothing unusual. Meanwhile, Max’s wife Claire (Sian Brooke) is skeptical he’s spending so much time helping his brother and assumes he’s having an affair, only to track him to Walter’s house. Angie suggests they go to dinner, where Claire invalidates the brothers’ backstory; Max is tone-deaf, and Jake is the musician.

On the way back, Max notices a security camera on the eaves of Walter’s neighbor’s house. When they approach the man about viewing his footage of a garden gnome incident, he shows them it’s a dummy camera to scare off intruders. (Only we see he has a fancy surveillance system in his house.) 

Complications pile up when Angie can’t shake the feeling that something’s fishy about her uncle’s demise, so she delays her return to Chicago. So Max tracks down his recently sacked private investigator, Kenny (Emun Elliott), to convince him Angela’s case could get him back on his feet, assuming he won’t find anything to dispute that Walter died peacefully in front of his telly. (Kenny’s initial walkthrough at the house is less than thorough.) But Kenny then returns to the house sober, and this time, he detects metallic fragments (possibly car paint) on Walter’s trouser legs. Max offers to take the sample in for testing, but Kenny insists on doing it all himself.

Ruth Bradley as Angie and Emun Elliott as Kenny in 'Guilt' Season 1

Ruth Bradley as Angie and Emun Elliott as Kenny in 'Guilt' Season 1

Expectation/Happy Tramp North

Max’s exasperation grows as his command over the situation wanes. He notices a lady across the street from Walter’s who has been watching them and finally confronts her. She responds that she saw. Determined to focus on what he can control, Max attempts to get Kenny on the bottle again. He tells the PI he saw his estranged wife engaged in a passionate kiss with another man outside the family home. Alas, the new, improved Kenny won’t be tempted. Besides, the paint sample from Walter’s trousers is already at the lab, and while they wait, he wants to look at Walter’s financial records. Angie insists she’s staying until all the evidence is in. Max is annoyed with Jake for not keeping his girlfriend in check and heads to the hospital to pay someone at the lab to “lose” the paint sample from Walter’s trousers. Max sacks Kenny again, citing his ineptness, which reflects poorly on the law firm.

Max moves on to Walter’s nosy neighbor, Shelia (Ellie Haddington). He patiently (and sort of threateningly) explains what she witnessed: two Samaritans helping an old man home. Sheila reckons she says she saw them kill Walter with their car, and she demands £20,000 to keep quiet. He tries to bargain her down, but she sees what he could be worth. Max’s first idea is to take the blackmail money from his joint account with Claire. His excuse is it’s for Jake – the record shop is in trouble. Claire strongly rejects this suggestion, so Max backs down, saying he must be getting sentimental.

In the meantime, Angela and Jake’s relationship develops, but Jake notices her stories don’t match up either. In a stack of old photos, he finds Walter’s niece as a schoolgirl… and she doesn’t look like Angela. Jake finally brings up Angela’s lack of presence on social media and the photo of Walter’s niece he found. She casually explains she had a controlling ex and was an ugly teenager besides. In Jake’s naive eyes, this seems plausible.

Mark Bonnar as Max and Sian Brooke as Claire in 'Guilt' Season 1

Mark Bonnar as Max and Sian Brooke as Claire in 'Guilt' Season 1

Expectation/Happy Tramp North 2019

Believing this nightmare is nearing an end, Max attempts to make amends with his neglected wife. He promises to get home from work on time, and they can go out for an intimate dinner for two. But Claire is being wooed by Tina (Moyo Akande), a woman from her workout class.

Despite being fired from the Walter Wood case, Kenny hangs around the neighborhood, focusing on the man with the dummy camera. He’s feigning a disability, so Kenny pressures him to reveal his video from that night. Meanwhile, Shelia has left a package at Max’s office — a DVD with camera footage of him and Jake carrying Walter to his house…. the same footage Kenny is watching at the neighbor’s house.

With these developments, Max misses his date with Claire to get the money to pay off Shelia. Afterward, paperwork (supposedly related to Jake’s record shop) is delivered to Max’s office, which he signs. Disappointed, Claire goes to see Tina. Claire and Tina share a drink, a kiss, and then more. When Max gets home, Claire is already back as well. He apologizes, but she says she doesn’t care. He tries to explain about the past week and promises to be different from now on. She says she needs to shower – they should stay in.

Not aware of what his brother has just done, Jake calls Angela to say he wants her to stay, just as Angela realizes Walter wrote several checks to Sheila Gemmell. Afterward, Jake notices a matchbook from the Highlander. Jake looks up the pub online and sees a picture of Angela working at the bar, with Shelia in the background. Angela crosses the street and knocks on Shelia’s door. The older woman tells her she needs to leave. Angela says not until she finds out what Shelia did. Sheila corrects her, “What we did.”

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A hit-and-run plunges brothers Max and Jake into a farcical cover-up.
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Carmen Croghan

Carmen Croghan often looks at the state of her British addiction and wonders how it got so out of hand.  Was it the re-runs of Monty Python on PBS, that second British Invasion in the 80’s or the royal pomp and pageantry of Charles and Diana’s wedding? Whatever the culprit, it led her to a college semester abroad in London and over 25 years of wishing she could get back to the UK again.  Until she is able, she fills the void with British telly, some of her favorites being comedies such as The Office, The IT Crowd, Gavin and Stacey, Alan Partridge, Miranda and Green Wing. Her all-time favorite series, however, is Life On Mars. A part-time reference library staffer, she spends an inordinate amount of time watching just about any British series she can track down which she then writes about for her own blog Everything I Know about the UK, I Learned from the BBC.  She is excited to be contributing to Telly Visions and endeavors to share her Anglo-zeal with its readers.

Marni Cerise headshot

A writer since her childhood introduction to Shel Silverstein, Marni adores film, cats, Brits, and the Oxford comma. She studied screenwriting at UARTS and has written movie, TV, and pop culture reviews for Ani-Izzy.com, and Wizards and Whatnot. You can usually catch her watching Hot Fuzz for the thousandth time. Find her very sparse social media presence on Twitter: @CeriseMarni

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