The final part of ITV’s Unforgotten allowed viewers to explore two very different themes: redemption and the nature of justice.
The story so far had four very different characters drawn into the web of police investigation as DCI Stuart (Nicola Walker) and DS Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar) homed in on the true events of 1976 and the murder of young Jimmy Sullivan. As they came into play, each character saw their lives thrown into disarray, and this episode let some of them deal with the consequences.
Disgraced priest Father Greaves (Bernard Hill) was finally able to lay bare all the lies he’d built up across the decades and his three daughters from two families were able to meet. Through the birth of a grandchild and a marriage, there is hope of a better future, and if not forgiven at least people are moving forward.
Liz Wilton (Ruth Sheen) experienced a greater transformation; by jumping into the Thames she was washed clean and born anew to resume her life in the full knowledge of who she had been. There were even some good GCSE results to celebrate.
Even Trevor Eve’s Sir Philip Cross reached an apotheosis as his own son informed the police of his father’s wrongdoings. The interrogation scene was wonderfully understated; while the obsequious lawyer prattled and blustered, Sir Philip said one simple word:
The power of that quiet syllable changed his and his family’s lives and allowed us to understand his motivations as father prepared to do anything to give his children the best possible future. His suicide might be a step too far, bit this story thread has never ceased to impress.
Back to the killer and we quickly learned it wasn’t Eric Slater (Tom Courtenay) who murdered two young men but his wife Calire (Gemma Jones). This episode allowed both actors to provide some intensely realised moments as we explored their situation. Revealing this in the final episode meant is quickly went from evil alibi to truth, but this was balanced by the reaction of the two sons to their mother’s crimes.
Justice itself is challenged by this story – Claire has no memory of her crimes, yet someone should still be punished, even if society cannot do so via the courts. At least Jimmy’s mother had the satisfaction of finally laying her son to rest.
ITV has announced a second season of Unforgotten. There is a lot we don’t know about the two leads, but their gentle, effective style allowed an intricate plot to play out on our screen for six weeks, and they will be welcomed back.
Aired at 9pm on Thursday 12 November 2015 on ITV.
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