Still catching up on A Confession episode 2? Read Steve’s review of episode 1 here.
Crime dramas about missing young women and the dogged and determined detectives searching for them and – inevitably – their killers, don’t often allow a lot of light in. And you can understand why. So it was a refreshing change to be welcomed by a really quite sweet scene here in this second instalment of A Confession – one featuring Imelda Staunton’s Karen Edwards cuddled up in bed with her missing daughter.
That lightness soon turned back to darkness however when it became clear that the embrace was less a reciprocal show of love and more a forcible imprisonment to (rather unsuccessfully) get young Becky Godden off hard drugs. Not only that, but it was 9 years ago meaning that this wasn’t a reunion for mother and daughter – Becky was still very much missing. We were merely glimpsing a snapshot of the difficult time that Karen, Becky and her entire family experienced before her disappearance.
Becky’s wasn’t the only disappearance in Swindon in 2011, of course. Sian O’Callaghan becoming a ‘MisPer’ has been the focal point of A Confession so far. Her whereabouts are as yet unknown, but the driver of the green Toyota Avensis has now been identified. He’s local taxi driver Christopher Halliwell, played by Joe Absolom who soap fans will recognise as EastEnders‘ Matthew Rose from back in the day.
Under lead investigator Steve Fulcher’s instruction, Halliwell is tailed and his behaviour is regarded as more than a little suspicious. Binning car seat covers, burning handbags and buying suicidal amounts of painkillers from a pharmacy are all enough to force Fulcher and his team to put Halliwell in handcuffs sooner rather than later.
Here’s the rub, though, and the basis for the controversy that surrounds this real-life case. Instead of formally arresting the cabbie and taking him back to the station – and risking him ‘hiding behind no comment’ – Fulcher decides to question him on his own at a nearby site that he believes that Halliwell is keeping (or has disposed of) Sian. It’s a move that isn’t exactly by the book. Unless that book happens to be The Big Book of Renegade and Borderline Illegal Police Strategy.
Of course, we’re yet to actually experience any confessions in A Confession, but anyone familiar with the case in real life will know that the confessing part is coming up. In fact, next week’s episode will feature it really quite prominently, we imagine.
Despite being rather finely drawn, Martin Freeman’s performance as Steve Fulcher here is worthy of note. While the actor struggles to shake off the tics he’s carried throughout all of his roles, from The Office’s Tim to Sherlock’s sidekick Watson, this is impressive work. Commanding, yet realistic, Freeman lets the story and the script do the work here, giving an admirably unshowy and restrained performance. It’s the smart move too, given that we’re dealing with a very real story and very real people here.
Freeman’s almost opaque work allows Imelda Staunton to express her character’s despair, anger, grief and hope in a fully expressive and entirely heart-rending way that can’t help but move you. Her work here reminds us all that these kinds of crimes aren’t just cases for the police to solve. They produce real victims and shatter real lives.
Episode 2 is an improvement on last week’s very nearly quite dull opener. The debut hour was good, but suffered somewhat for its subtlety and overly patient approach. Here, though? We’re fully up and running. This is well-paced, patient and serious drama that is – so far, at least – perfectly balancing delivering a tight thriller to its audience and simultaneously telling a true story with the utmost respect and accuracy.
Next week is where the drama really unfolds. It’ll keep you glued to the screen, but remember – this is all based on true events. Because, as the only saying goes, the truth is often stranger than fiction.
Did you watch A Confession episode 2? What did you make of it? Let us know in the comments below!