‘One of Us’ Episode 2 review: There’s an awful lot going on here

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“We’re not made for this,” says Claire Elliot during this week’s episode of One of Us.

She’s referring to the tacit decision to cover up the murder of her brother’s killer, and she’s got a point.  Concealing the body itself isn’t too difficult, but it’s hardly a mark of criminal genius to try and hide the killer’s car just by slinging a blanket over it and some rusty scrap around it.

Even as the Elliot clan was doing that I was scornful of it as a means of fooling the police; and I felt oddly vindicated later on when they, and their neighbours the Douglases, reached the same conclusion.

In a curiously chilling scene calmly and pragmatically discuss the various options for disposal of a corpse and his car.  There’s the sense that once you’ve crossed the line, you adapt to the practicalities of the situation very quickly.  (Their solution, incidentally, is to dig a big hole in a field and bury killer and vehicle together.)

So much for them as criminals – if there’s one nagging problem here, it’s that we need to care for them more as people.  Both families have lost a child, and yet I’m struggling to feel any real warmth towards them.

One of Us 1 2

Daughter Claire is the one exception, and there’s a simple but effective moment when having gone into work hoping for just a little corner of normality she bursts into uncontrollable sobbing.  We know of course that she’s not just crying for her murdered brother, but over the guilt of what has happened at home.

Less convincing is the father (Ade Edmonson) who has to confess to his new partner that he already has a family.  His weeping isn’t totally convincing, even when he points out the story in the newspaper and cries, “They murdered my boy.”  I’m concerned that he may struggle when he’s reunited with ex-wife Louise (played by Juliet Stevenson, famously able to blub at the drop of a hat).

That reunion, I assume, will take place in next week’s penultimate episode.  There’s an awful lot going on here for a serial of only four episodes, some of it must start paying off in Episode 3.

One of Us 1 2 Jay (CHRIS FULTON)

As well as the headline plot of the double killing and the murder of the killer, there are the mysterious letters burnt by Moira Douglas; her husband’s secret illness; the murder weapon found in Rob Elliott’s room; Louise’s alcoholism; amiable farmhand Alastair’s blackmail…  It’s as though the entire 23 year run of Take The High Road has been condensed into four short hours.

As if that wasn’t enough, Detective Juliet (Laura Fraser) comes with an entire dramatic subplot in tow.  Last week she was covertly selling LSD tabs to raise money for her daughter’s operation; this week a young girl takes one and believing she can fly, leaping to her death from a tower block balcony.  Tragic consequences emerging from good intentions, and an ironic echo of the theme of a life for a life.

More next week!

Aired at 9pm on Tuesday 30 August 2016 on BBC One.

Buy One of Us on DVD on Amazon here.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let us know below…