The 'Unforgotten' Season 5 Premiere Starts with The Case of The Revolving DCIs

Sinead Keenan as DCI Jess James facing her new team in 'Unforgotten' Season 5

Sinead Keenan as DCI Jess James in 'Unforgotten' Season 5

Mainstreet Productions

When Unforgotten Season 4 premiered in 2021, it had been nearly three years since the series last aired on PBS. Thankfully, fans didn't have to wait quite as long for Season 5, but it has been a while since the surprise passing of Cassie Stuart and the exit of Nicola Walker from the series. However, some things haven't changed, like the theme music or the cold open discovery of a long-hidden body. This season's skeleton is found by chimney sweeps Scott (Zephryn Taitte) during renovations of a place over in Hammersmith owned by Paul Bradley (Daniel Boys); just more proof of the dangers of unchecked gentrification.

Jess: Sorry, I sort of forgot you were there.
Sunny: Thank you?

We meet the new DCI, Jess James, just as she gets blindsided by a divorce bomb dropped on her by her soon-to-be ex-husband, Steve (Andrew Lancel), before walking out the door. It might explain her brisque manner upon arrival, ruffling feathers as she curtly tells Paul his trendy concrete wall will have to come down to remove the body, ignoring Sunny and Fran, who were already checking out the inside via cameras. Fran is left to question Paul, who says the building was unoccupied for five years during COVID before he bought it, as the original developer went bankrupt.

Jess isn't the only one having a bad day. She and Sunny have a silent ride to the office, an awkward conversation about Cassie, and then a miserable reveal she's supposed to turn the team to investigating current cases instead of historical ones. Sal tries to talk Sunny down from his ensuing freakout but isn't very successful, especially when Jess seems to push to date how long the body's been in there. Soon-to-be-ex Steve is a contractor, and Jess knows walls; the plasterboard over the chimney could date back 80 years. She leaves Sunny and Fran to track down every owner since WWII, answering her phone to rage about Steve's infidelity with her mum, Kate (Kate Robbins).

Carolina Main as DS Fran Lingley and Sanjeev Bhaskar as DI Sunny Khan huddle over a laptop in 'Unforgotten' Season 5

Carolina Main as DS Fran Lingley and Sanjeev Bhaskar as DI Sunny Khan in 'Unforgotten' Season 5

Mainstreet Productions

The show may be going through cast turnover, but the series is not deviating from its usual setup of four suspects, played by some heavy-hitting guest stars. Their introductions are woven throughout the opening episode. Here's the rundown of this season's who's who and what to know.

  • Karol Wojski (Max Rinehart): A multilingual British warehouse worker, introduced with his pal Szymon Nowak (Hubert Hanowicz), working at a Paris storage facility in the De Gaulle Airport complex. At quitting time, he starts his next job as a driver for French Uber clones Livrer Noir and Voiture Reine. We also see him on the phone with his mum Rebecca (Maria Friedman), clearly disappointed in his life, giving him unasked for advice on finding a girlfriend since he says he's still single. A lie, it turns out, as he heads home after his never-ending workday to get into bed with his girlfriend, Elsie (Claire Ganaye).
  • Jay Royce (Rhys Yates): A street hoodie, introduced while mugging nurse Sophie Coulson (Anna Benton) in Blackhythe, Thames Estuary, for her wallet so he can buy groceries. As she's taken to the hospital, he heads to his crack dealers before going home to his addict girlfriend, Cheryl (Hebe Beardsall). The two smoke up, and when he comes to, Jay discovers she's overdosed. Jay takes Cheryl to St. Abigail's, the same place Sophie is being treated, where she is revived. He quietly takes her home, begging her to let him control her dosing from now on.

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Police officers investigate the murder of a boy whose diary implicates four couples.
Unforgotten: show-poster2x3
  • Lord Tony Hume (Ian McElhinney): A high profile politician, introduced while waiting for his oncologist  Dr. Rashid Ghulam (Nabil Elouahabi), in a Westminster private clinic to talk about his possible cancerous growths. It's not good news, as the doctor insists on further testing. He heads to the "Underprivileged Youth" charity, where he volunteers to mentor teenage Mustafa Ali (Nana Agyeman-Bediako). He battles nausea from his illness as he drives home to his wife, Lady Emma (Hayley Mills), who has no idea of her husband's illness, nattering on about their degenerate son, Will, who is in trouble at school again.
  • Ebele Falade (Martina Laird): The owner of vegan restaurant Tinhu, introduced during the lunch rush, along with head chef/boyfriend Dave Adams (Mark Frost). She's scored them a meeting with investors to expand; Tai (Johnny Ong) and his partner, Seema (Nimmi Harasgama), are impressed. But they worry about scale, and Dave, too honest, admits it will be a lift. Ebele freaks out on the drive back, declaring him uninterested in success, reminding him he was homeless when they met, and ending with her punching him in the face while he's driving, whereupon he exits the car. Once home, she calls her sponsor, sobbing at her loss of control.

Meanwhile, in the inter-office drama, Jess heads to her mum's to deal with her own current relationship crisis, realizing that she's about to be a single mother to Eliot (River Archer). Despite being the third DCI to attempt stepping into Cassie's shoes since her passing, she will probably have to change jobs, or at least transfer to something 9-5 and desk-oriented, to be a dependable parental figure. Meanwhile, Sunny is late getting home, as he's gone to the cemetery to talk to Cassie's grave. It's notable that he lies to Sal about where he's been when he finally does call as he's leaving, claiming to have worked late.

Sinéad Keenan as DCI Jess James, Georgia Mackenzie as Dr. Leanne Balcombe, and Sanjeev Bhaskar as DC Sunny Khan stare as a leg bone in 'Unforgotten' Season 5

Sinéad Keenan as DCI Jess James, Georgia Mackenzie as Dr. Leanne Balcombe, and Sanjeev Bhaskar as DC Sunny Khan in 'Unforgotten' Season 5

Mainstreet Pictures LTD

Fran tracks the dress the victim was wearing, dating from the 1940s. Dr. Balcombe, now with the body out of the chimney, says the body's a woman between 20-40, missing teeth, and super short, like 4'10". Sunny is still fishing for anything to make the case relevant, suggesting the dress might be a vintage buy, only to have Jess sneer at him, asking if he's now into women's vintage clothing. However, Dr. Balcombe gives him the real in, announcing the body had a pregnancy. Sunny points out eagerly that the child, even if born in the 1930s, could conceivably be alive.

But he's too late. DS Murray confirms the piece of plaster is pre-1970s; Jess tells Kaz and Sunny to drop their investigation into the owners, and the case is closed. Sunny, enraged, starts to write his letter of resignation, but Fran is already two steps ahead of him. Sunny was right; the dress is from a vintage shop that opened in 2010, and they even have a record of selling the dress, with a printout for the receipt, dated 2016. Sunny tells Fran to contact the bank and identify the credit card and, hopefully, the victim as he prepares to walk into Jess's office and inform her the case is not closed.

Jess is thrown, stuttering about the plaster; Sunny tartly states not all of the plasterboard might not have been from World War II. Murray could've tested the wrong piece since she had it cut to smithereens to get the body out. Knowing she's lost the fight, Jess allows the case to reopen, but not before asking Sunny if he applied for the head job and was passed over. He coldly tells her he was offered it multiple times, and they begged him to take it. He walks out on that mic drop. With his resignation letter saved, he beats up a bathroom door until he feels better. We've at least uncovered the mystery of why the team's on its third DCI.


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. 

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