‘Black Work’ Episode 3 review: A rather disappointing final chapter

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With no-one left to trust, Jo Gillespie is in the final stages of finding out who killed her husband.

It seems like everyone is a suspect – they’re all acting shifty, that’s for sure, which is where ITV’s promising drama seems to lose its heart. Sheridan Smith’s Gillespie is still strong, but with a supporting cast of beige characters it’s hard to tell who’s who and who’d even have the motive to go around killing people in dodgy warehouses.

The true intrigue of how well we know the people we share a life and home with was exhausted at the end of Episode 2 when Gillespie discovers that her husband had a secret family. It had started as an interesting concept, how things appear against how they really are, but the Gillespie family secrets turned out to be bigger than most, and we can only hope that not everyone has secrets like this in their closets.

Black Work 1 2 SHERIDAN SMITH as Jo Gillespie

Smith is consistently good, although I can’t help but worry about how exhausted she must have been from being the woman on the edge. She looks good with the elfin cut and her big teary eyes, but I really would have liked something different thrown in.

She plays at a high level but relying solely on her close ups of her watery eyes leaves you wondering who else is in the show. We all support Gillespie (a charm of Smith’s is that her likability leaves the audience rooting for her characters all the way), but even when she discovers that the one person she thought she could trust could well be the one person she shouldn’t, I was left wondering whether I truly cared if she’d been sleeping with the enemy.

Black Work 1 2 PHIL DAVIS as Tom Piper

Tom Piper turns out to be a guardian angel of sorts. Meeting at night on the docks, they ride off on his boat for privacy and dramatic effect. Luckily Gillespie’s friend and potential new man, Jack Clark, gives her a gun to go with. Hold on a second…. A gun? Where did you get that from Jack? Ah, so now Jack is a suspect too. Piper tells Jo all his secrets and who he thinks is behind the murders. So that’s one suspect down, and a few more up.

Before the final act all but one of the characters have been thrown our way for analysis and suspicion – Jack Clark, DS Mikel, CC Jarecki and even PC Vicki Stanton. So that just left DCS Hepburn. He who the light of suspicion never shone on. Well then it must be him. And sure as eggs are eggs it was.

Black Work 1 1 DOUGLAS HENSHALL as DS William Hepburn

I thought it had been a bit odd when Hepburn had told her in Episode 2 at the funeral that Ryan had visited their home the night before he died and Hepburn ‘had really wished he’d known why he wanted to see him’. Turns out that Hepburn had known all along and so his time was up, but here was an officer who really enjoyed policing where he was judge, jury and executioner.

And so Jo Gillespie finally found out who was behind the murder of the man that she married, but didn’t really know. She made friends with his secret family and his ex-wife and all the women and the children played happily ever after together. Like much of this final instalment, it all felt a bit clichéd and forced; a rather disappointing end for a series that had started so strongly.


Aired at 9pm on Sunday 5 June 2015 on ITV.

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