‘Little Boy Blue’ review: Episode 2 is authentic and brutal storytelling

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Following on from last week’s heartbreaking introduction, ITV’s Little Boy Blue shifts the focus of the story in this second episode, but is no less emotionally impactful as a result.

“A killer whose identity everybody knows, but who we cannot charge. People are getting frustrated by our perceived lack of progress.”

While last week’s opener, quite rightly, focused on Rhys Jones’ tragic death and the emotional aftermath for his family, this week centred mainly on the police investigation. The Jones’ are touched upon, but the criminal proceedings and the lives of those directly involved with Sean Mercer and his gang are given more development.

Stephen Graham’s Dave Kelly is given more to do here, proving what a skilled actor Graham is. His frustration is palpable, but so is his desire to do right by the Jones’ and it’s that subtle, emotional multi-layering that makes his performance so watchable. Everything feels authentic in this adaptation of events and he anchors all of that here.

The episode also provides a stark contrast between the obviously loving but broken Jones family, still grieving and in shock, to the family of those involved in the shooting. Sean Mercer’s parents decide that cries of ‘no comment’ and the burning of evidence is the way to pass the situation. The only person on that side of things that seems to feel any remorse is Claire Olsen (Faye McKeever of The Moorside, Trollied).

“I know this is going to be bad for us. I saw her, that woman. I feel for her so much.”

 She is clearly at odds with what is going on and is torn between doing the right thing and protecting her son from Mercer and his associates. The scene in which she breaks down and gives a statement that shatters Sean’s alibi is a tense, powerhouse scene and one of the episodes many watchable moments.

“It sounds weird but, having him home these last few days…it’s like we’re losing him all over again.”

Despite the fact that the Jones’ do not feature as prominently in this part of the story, the performances from the actors involved does not dilute at all. Sinead Keenan continues to evoke the sympathies of the audience with her portrayal of the grieving mother. The scene where she tells Steve (Brian F O’Byrne) that she feels nothing, to the point she isn’t even sure she loves him anymore, is genuinely heartbreaking.

It’s an episode full of poignant  and striking moments, such as the poem composed by Steve Jones for Rhys’ funeral being placed into the script. For me, one of the most striking images was the words ‘Mercer Baby Killer’ written in graffiti as Mercer himself calmly strolls past it.  Harrowing stuff, but a credit to the skills of Director Paul Whittington and screenplay writer, Jeff Pope, who have crafted such emotional viewing.

Little Boy Blue continues to impress with the performances and the authentic, if brutal, nature of its storytelling. Halfway through, this drama shows no signs of slowing and despite the ending being public knowledge, the story of how we get there is just as engaging.

Aired at 9pm on Monday 1 May 2017 on ITV.

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