Hurrah! Silent Witness is back on our screens.
It feels an age since Season 18 concluded last February and now we can finally catch up with the latest hard-hitting cases for our favourite pathologists.
‘After the Fall’ is a dramatic, often tense and at times deeply psychological opener which features Dr. Nikki Alexander (Emilia Fox) at the forefront of BBC One’s long-running crime drama. It’s a testament to the quality of Silent Witness that with its 20th anniversary next year it can still pack a significant punch as Nikki is forced to face a number of uncomfortable truths about herself.
When the body of a man is found, Nikki is quick to spot its similarities with an earlier case causing her to question her earlier verdict of suicide. Typically, Nikki takes it upon herself to uncover the truth to the resigned exasperation of her colleagues.
However, Nikki’s investigations soon lead to her becoming embroiled in a personal struggle for survival. After her former mentor, Professor Belinda Roach (Georgie Glen) is murdered, Nikki ends up in the frame and realises the real killer has goaded her into the trap.
Regular Silent Witness viewers will be well accustomed to Nikki’s disastrous romantic life – why did she ever let the dashing Harry Cunningham get away? This week’s episodes feature the reappearance of an old flame, Scott (Dan Fredenburgh), in her life and Nikki wrongly suspects him to be behind the recent killings.
It’s a classic red herring in the plot and plays very strongly on Nikki’s inability to trust. Of course Nikki’s attempt to secure DNA evidence from Scott leaves her feeling rather red-faced when he guesses what she’s up to and accuses her of being ‘cold.’
At the centre of this story is the Hamilton family with David’s (Sam Strike) anger management issues making him a prime suspect in the case as well as his father, Tony (Dean Andrews) who’s recently been released from prison after supposedly pushing Suzie Banks (Joanna Horton) out of a window. With the case heating up, Nikki narrowly avoids being murdered by the killer’s hired gun, Carmichael (Dean Lennox Kelly) and the Lyell’s investigations lead them straight to Tony.
Nikki and Jack (David Caves) trace Tony to Suzie’s current whereabouts and they fear he may have got to her again. However, there’s another twist in the plot when Suzie reveals she lied about Tony pushing her which causes Nikki to realise he’s an innocent man. Eventually, Nikki’s investigations take her straight to the real culprit, Lydia Hamilton (Geraldine Somerville).
There’s something of an epiphany for Nikki in the concluding moments of the story when she tells Scott his assessment of her is right but that it’s too late for her to change.
‘After the Fall’ is a cracking opener to the nineteenth season and Silent Witness remains in rude health.
Ed Whitmore’s script rushes along at a terrific pace with fantastic characterisations, carefully constructed exposition and strong dialogue throughout, and Emilia Fox once again proves what an asset she is with a strong leading performance across the two episodes.
As ever with Silent Witness the plot is perhaps a little farfetched and it’ll be of no surprise to anyone to see the pathologists once again going beyond the call of duty. However, it’s solid, entertaining and emotionally-driven drama. Welcome back!
Aired at 9pm on Monday 4 January 2016 and at 9pm on Tuesday 5 January 2016 on BBC One.
What did you think of ‘After the Fall’? Let us know below…