“I’m going to find who caused a pain that’s very much alive today. Who took his life, who took hers? And I want to punish them. Thirty-nine years later.”
Thus speaks DI Cassie Stewart (Nicola Walker) at the start of part 2 of The Unforgotten. We immediately realise Cassie has an emotional connection to the death of young Jimmy Sullivan when, visiting Jimmy’s mother in Liverpool, we learn of her own children, now fled the nest.
Stewart empathises with Jimmy’s mother, but not in a histrionic way, instead in a matter of fact, determined way. As she and her colleague DS Sunil Kahn (Sanjeev Bhaskar) investigate they do so with a diligent dignity and this is very much in contrast to those being investigated.
As the police proceed with their work, we continue our glimpses into the lives of four people we now know were intimately connected to Jimmy back in the late 1970s before he vanished.
Rather than draw all four groups into the foreground, writer Chris Lang chooses to focus on Sir Philip Cross (Trevor Eve) the recently announced government Tsar for Enterprise, and Lizzie Wilton (Ruth Sheen) who runs a community football team.
Sir Philip Cross is a self-made (and self-important) man who takes no prisoners, and does no favours, even for his own son. He is clearly meant to be compared to Lord Sugar, even down to the camera angles across the business district of London from his office.
Sir Philip begins with denial, then once it becomes clear Stewart and Kahn have some evidence of a connection between Sir Philip and the dead Jimmy Sullivan he gets more guarded. He has some flashbacks we share with him – we know he knows more, whereas the police only suspect. They do know of his past connections to London gangland, and once those are raised Sir Philip asks them to leave and talks about needing lawyers. Hardly the behaviours of a good man.
In style Trevor Eve is like a grenade with the pin pulled out, always on the verge of exploding, and in style played very much like Eve’s first major role as the radio detective Eddie Shoestring, albeit as he had his breakdown.
This is all very much in contrast with Lizzie Wilton, a woman from a mixed marriage who spends her time in good works. She is very much at odds with the emerging picture of a racist thug whose boyfriend in the 1970s was quite capable of any atrocity. She denies any of this with a calm manner, and again we get flashbacks to the 1970s again showing the truth behind the line of questioning the police are following. It is all very measured yet Cassie is sure she is being lied to.
We are no nearer the events surrounding Jimmy’s death, and while larger than life, Sir Philip is too obvious a main villain. This week has shown us little of wheelchair bound Eric Slater (Tom Courtenay) but enough to whet our appetites.
The police have also yet to talk to Father Bob (Bernard Hill) but events are already overtaken him. He is a control freak who appears to have stage a burglary to rob his own funds allowing him to cover up a whole in the parish accounts. He is already on the downward slope to self-destruction and we wait to see who explodes first – Father Bob or Sir Philip.
There is much else to savour from this story, including a study of 1970s racism, DS Kahn’s own backstory and also DI Stewart’s own father. A good mix of ingredients and next week can’t come soon enough.
Aired at 9pm on Thursday 15 October 2015 on ITV.
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