After last week’s gripping opener, this episode begins with Ellen (Morven Christie) holding the baby.
Her emergency Caesarean section produces a baby girl, though the mystery death of her boss, Kay, remains unsolved. Paula (Vicky McClure), her ‘replacement’ maternity cover at work, claims “it doesn’t make any sense.” Was it suicide or was she pushed? Ellen grapples with these thoughts in the early weeks of motherhood. Paula soon turns up with flowers in hand to pay her first visit.
A tale of subtle one-upmanship continues, as Ellen determines to uncover the truth about Paula. Was she having an affair with Kay’s husband David (Dougray Scott), and why is her ten year old daughter always ‘on a sleepover’ when Ellen wishes to meet her? The girl, who Paula brings in to the office, shows no interest in being shown around.
Ellen decides following Paula could give her some clues, but this leads to Ellen’s husband, Ian (Richard Rankin) left literally holding the baby into the evening, straining their relationship. Ellen’s struggle with breastfeeding and long working hours proves difficult especially when she is expected to pay tribute at Kay’s funeral service.
It doesn’t take long for Paula to pick up on “there could be trouble with bonding, especially after a C-section”. Another way of seeding doubts into the mind of Ellen and if looks could kill, then top of the list of suspects has to be Vicky McClure with those piercing blue eyes! The acting is second to none as both women try to outmanoeuvre the other with words and meaningful looks. The battle field is wide open and the knives are drawn.
Back at the office, Ellen is promoted to take over Kay’s role, but this is at the expense of Paula taking over Ellen’s pet library project. Ellen arranges to meet up with an ex-colleague of Paula’s called Georgia (Sharon Young), but this is doomed from the start.
Paula is tipped off about the meeting and follows her. She photographs baby Leah left alone in the car whilst her mother runs around the café trying to talk to Georgia who seems keen to escape. However, the fact remains that ‘baby left alone crying in the car’ is sufficient signs of neglect for Paula to report to police and Social Services. Husband, Ian, knows all about it and an argument follows about whether it was ten minutes or a couple of minutes she was left alone. The seeds of doubt are re-enforced after a visit from social services.
A dinner party at Paula’s house brings the two women together to confront each other, and the interrogation begins. Paula realises that Ellen has uncovered some of her secrets, but it is not yet clear whether this is more pretence. “You win” sneers Paula to Ellen at the end.
But there is one more episode to come and viewers are desperate to know who are the winners and losers in all of this? The finale next week cannot come fast enough.
Aired at 9pm on Tuesday 7 March 2017 on BBC One.
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Reviewed by Zoé Patrick.