'We Hunt Together' is a Very Different Kind of Crime Drama - and That's a Good Thing
Given that the British import We Hunt Together came to America on premium cable network Showtime earlier this summer, it's likely that many viewers completely missed out on the series entirely. This is an unfortunate shame because the show is one of the more original crime dramas to air this year and deserves a larger audience.
A pulpy spin on the standard police procedural, the story follows two detectives investigating a string of murders, even as it simultaneously depicts the pair that's committing the crimes. A classic cat and mouse suspense story - only this time in both directions - many of the genre's expected tropes are thrown on their heads by a story that questions whether or not these are killers we even want to see caught at all.
We Hunt Together follows the story of Freddy (Hermione Corfield), a young phone sex worker who feels very much like a slightly less violent version of Villanelle from Killing Eve. In the first episode, she meets Baba (Dipo Ola), a Congolese refugee working the nightshift at a club. When he rescues her from a date gone wrong - and beats the crap out of the man attempting to sexually assault her - a bond forms between them that quickly turns into romance.
I mean...I guess there are worse meet-cute stories?
In truth, a big part of how you feel about We Hunt Together is going to depend on whether the Freddy and Baba relationship works for you, and if you enjoy the sly, dangerous edge to their courtship, wherein two broken people come together to create an entirely new set of jagged edges in a match that is simultaneously charming and more than a bit frightening.
The pair's murder of the man who tried to rape Freddy turns out to be the same investigation that opens the show and introduces us to the oddball duo of detectives working the case, who each have their own set of problems. DS Lola Franks (Eve Myles) is a brusque investigator with a rude demeanor, a drug problem, a tortured past, and a new partner in the relentlessly kind and sunny DI Jackson Mendy (Babou Ceesay), a former internal affairs officer turned murder detective.
Myles is as terrific as always and her odd-couple chemistry with Ceesay makes it easy to enjoy them as a duo beyond the murder investigation they're spearheading. The show delves a bit into both of their personal lives, and though Lola's issues (drugs) are more interesting than Jackson's (infidelity), there's still enough here to make them feel like three-dimensional people. And as the rude tone of their initial partnership gives way to something more like real friendship, the pair offers an appealing contrast to the more volatile union between Freddy and Baba.
As the season continues and the bodies start to pile up - Freddy slyly encourages Baba to "protect" her by offing another man that poses a different kind of threat to her life and things sort of just escalate from there - their stories start to intertwine more fully. Lola suspects Freddy of knowing more than she lets on, Freddy preens at her own cleverness, and Baba tries to figure out how to balance the man he's becoming with memories of the reluctant child soldier he was once recruited to be.
Corfield is an instant standout as Freddy, a clearly disturbed but instantly likable woman that we want to root for, despite the fact that she's continually making awful choices and urging her boyfriend to commit crimes. There's something darkly appealing about her and her messy, tragic backstory, as though she's some sort of twisted avenging angel sent to make men pay for the bad things they've done to those they view as weaker than they are.
This moral complication is undercut somewhat by Freddy's smug mastermind act mid-season, which often has the effect of making her character simply look psychotic, rather than occasionally justified. We Hunt Together is at its best when digging into the crimes themselves and how or if we might be able to find at least some of them understandable, if not forgivable. What is vengeance? What is justice? How much is Freddy at fault for the woman she's become? And how much can we blame Baba for going along with her, when the show is so careful to underline how desperate he is for someone to believe he's worth saving?
The series' end is as twisty and bloody as you'd expect from a show like this and still manages to leave the door open for a second season. Personally, I question whether another outing is really necessary - or even worth it in terms of the story that's left to tell. There's something that feels almost perfect about the season's final moments and though I certainly wouldn't mind seeing what comes next in the world of this story, I wouldn't feel as though it were unfinished if that makes sense.
We Hunt Together is a show that tries to do something very different with the standard crime procedural format and though it doesn't always succeed, it should be applauded for the attempt. We all know that crime dramas aren't always my thing but this one was a great time throughout, with plenty of near-misses and fun twists that put a unique spin on the Bonnie and Clyde trope at the heart of this story. What does it mean if we all kind of hope Freddy and Baba get away with it all? Maybe that's the question we're really supposed to sit with, in the end.