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Sunday, 29 July 2018

Unforgotten: The mystery surrounding New Year's Eve 1999


DCI Cassie Stuart (Nicola Walker) and DS Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar) continue to investigate the murder of Hayley Reid in the third instalment of Unforgotten’s third series. The ITV drama hasn’t disappointed thus far, and Episode 3 proves to be the strongest hour of the Chris Lang-penned series yet, as the disparate arcs are slowly sewn together. But as upsetting as the Hayley Reid case is, it’s Cassie’s realisation that her dad Martin (Peter Egan) is starting to show signs of dementia that proves to be the most emotional thing about this episode. The detective manages to avert disaster after her father leaves the pan heating on the hob. However, Martin denies leaving it switched on, insisting that problem must be a technical one. This may story move may seem sudden, but it’s not. If you’ve been watching carefully, then you’ll have noticed that writer Chris Lang has cleverly been hinting at Martin’s forgetfulness for several episodes now. The whole situation is understandably upsetting for Cassie, who’s already dealing with loneliness, as well as the pressures of the Hayley Reid case.

Back at the station, James Hollis (Kevin McNally) shows up with his solicitor to answer Cassie and Sunny’s questions. He’s as nice as pie, which is odd considering his reluctance to speak to them in the previous episode. ‘Something’s not right’, my suspicious mind thinks.  And It’d be right, but we’ll get to that later. The detectives grill Hollis about his stay in The Spinney over the millennium and the TV presenter spins a story about how he and his friends, Tim (Alex Jennings), Chris (James Fleet) and Pete (Neil Morrissey) all had a great time. He tells Cassie and Sunny that, on New Year’s Eve of the year in question, him and his mates stayed put in the holiday rental, and didn’t go out after 10pm. We know, however, that he’s not telling the whole truth, as we’re given a tiny bit of information via the show’s signature brief flashbacks.


Nicola Walker is at her best during Cassie’s cross-examinations. Cassie is not a super confident conversationalist like Walker’s character in The Split is. If anything, the detective is a little awkward with the delivery of her questions when interviewing her suspects – as you likely would be in real life. I’ve mentioned before how Lang’s wonderful characterisation of Cassie is what makes her such a great character, and this is apparent again here. She feels like a real person. Cassie and Sunny interview all four men over the course of the episode, which is certainly a new approach in comparison to previous series’ of the show, and Cassie’s one-on-one interview with Chris Lowe is a particular highlight. Cassie is, to an extent, a socially awkward person, and we know that Chris doesn’t cope well with stress, so this scene proved pretty intense for both parties. Walker and Fleet are both on the money here.


Due to a lack of evidence, Cassie and Sunny are about to give up when Mel Hollis (Sara Stewart) explains a very different version of events in regards to what happened at The Spinney on that night. She claims that Chris lost it, and that he left the house in a fit of rage, before the three other men went out in search for him. While the detectives are now aware that the four suspects have been lying to them, they’re still at a loss because none of these men could be Hayley’s killers, Why? Because Hayley’s last known appearance was at midnight, and the men were back in their holiday rental at this point. Lang is so good at putting believable obstacles in his protagonists’ way, and nothing ever feels poorly researched or written. Again, it’s all entirely plausible. The big twist comes moments from the episode’s conclusion, when Fran (Carolina Main)discovers that the information in regards to the last sighting of Hayley is actually incorrect, which means that any one of the four men could’ve killed Hayley after all.

Andy Wilson’s direction is once again spot on, and Michael Price’s score is as hauntingly beautiful as ever. The latest episode of Unforgottenhas given Cassie the breakthrough she needs, and this information will be vital going forward, because it means any of the men could’ve been Hayley’s killer. Right now my money is on Chris Lowe, but that’s a matter for another day. As of yet, we still don’t know how the blogger fits into the story. What’s more, Jake’s (Lewis Reeves) conversation (or lack of) with Adrian Mullery (Gerald Kyd) will cause problems for the investigation, because Cassie and Sunny will need to speak to Mullery to rule him out once and for all, but if he’s unwilling will they arrest him? It’s also worth asking if romance could finally be on the cards for Cassie, now that the handsome John Bentley (Alastair MacKenzie) has caught her eye? And, while we're on the subject of Cassie, where did she get that fabulous red coat? So many questions, but that’s the power of Chris Lang’s scripts. Unforgotten is the most compelling crime drama around, and the plot has oh so very thickened by the end of Episode 3. With all these queries running around in our heads, next Sunday can’t come quick enough.
                                                         Contributed by Stephen Patterson

                                              Unforgotten continues Sundays at 9pm on ITV.

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