Strike – Career of Evil, part one review (Spoilers)

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Here’s our spoiler-filled review of Strike – Career of Evil, part one.

Returning to our screens for the first time since September last year, Strike’s final story of this series, Career Of Evil, sees our detective duo facing the ghosts of personal tragedies that begin to boil over into their work.

“He threatened to cut her legs off if anyone found out”

When a severed leg is delivered to Robin (Holliday Grainger) at Cormoran Strike’s (Tom Burke) office, it sets in motion a chain of events which show the perpetrator is targeting Strike, based on a prior incident.

As the story unravels, three suspects start to emerge, all with reason to seek revenge on our anti-hero: an aggrieved abusive father, a bitter war veteran and, perhaps most interestingly, his mother’s rock star ex-husband, who Cormoran blames for his mother’s death. Strike finds himself in extremely hot water as the police discover the body of a teenager, Kelsey Platt (Fern Deacon) with her arms and legs cut off, who was supposedly meeting Strike the same night she was dismembered.

“Do I know you, little girl?”

As well as everything going on with Strike, Robin is also feeling completely overwhelmed by the events of the episode. Holliday Grainger has played Robin with softness and subtlety and it’s in this episode that we find out why.

She confesses having been sexually attacked when she was younger and having to play dead to escape her attacker, who she remembers details of, and that still seem to scare her. Add to this that the case with Strike involves an abused teen and a rapist, her emotions suffer another blow with her fiancé Matthew’s (Kerr Logan) confession of infidelity, and her head is understandably left spinning. By the episode’s end, her usual calm, confident ways are beginning to crack and she is haunted by the memory of her attacker.

Director Charles Sturridge uses the London filming locations to reinforce the grit of the script, adding some lovely visual flair to what at times could be a morbidly sombre affair, given its subject matter. (Remember we are talking about a primetime Sunday night viewing slot).

Tom Edge, who penned the previous Strike instalment, The Silkworm, has put together a dark, unforgiving and tense script. The opening credits have massive tension, as do Strike’s often brutal flashbacks – and it is all handled with determined finesse. He also weaves a nice thread of wry humour into events too, which reveals itself at just the right time and preventing things from becoming too unremittingly dark.

Strike has returned on a high with a really engaging, multi-faceted plot, which is anchored by the strong yet understated rapport of its lead actors. The main issue here seems to be waiting a whole week to find out what happens next, and which of the three suspects is the killer of teenager Kelsey Platt.