Still catching up on A Confession episode 5? Read Steve’s review of episode 4 here.
When we think of maverick TV cops hellbent on ‘getting the job done’ no matter what, we think of the likes of Gene Hunt from Life on Mars, Vic Mackey from The Shield and John Luther from – you’ve got it – Luther. Renegades that break the rules to crack the case. Their punishment for going rogue to apprehend the killer? Usually a dressing down from the boss and a couple of weeks’ suspension.
Real life, however, doesn’t quite work like that. Intentionally flouting the law is never really tolerated and – even when the greater good is the intended target – it rarely goes unpunished. As our lead character discoverers here.
Wiltshire Police’s Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher, played with impressive restraint here by Fargo’s Martin Freeman, is hardly what you might call a hotheaded cowboy cop. But, as we’re discovering in Jeff Pope’s patient and engrossing six-part ITV crime drama A Confession, he’s probably about as close as you can get to a real-life maverick.
Foregoing bureaucracy for a result, Fulcher made a decision not to caution killer Christopher Halliwell when squeezing him for information back in March 2011. It was a decision which led to the discovery of Sian O’Callaghan’s body and an admission from Halliwell that he had killed another woman – Becky Godden-Edwards. It was to be an extremely brave decision which would ultimately cost Fulcher very dear.
This penultimate episode divided up its fifty-odd minute running time equally for perhaps the first time. We followed the IPCC investigation into Fulcher’s supposed ‘misconduct’, discovering that the misconduct charge was upheld and that he was given a final written warning – effectively halting any real career progression. We also continued to follow Karen Edwards as she fought for justice for Becky, and Sian’s mother Elaine Pickford as she attempted to put her and her family’s lives back together again.
In truth, this week’s slice of A Confession lacked some of the tension and gravity of previous weeks. But episode 5 wasn’t really supposed to convey any of those things. So while it may not have been quite as dramatic as past instalments, it was still more than effective at showing the emotional toll that the case had on everyone involved.
The triumvirate of Martin Freeman, Imelda Staunton and Siobhan Finneran stood particularly firm here. A Confession has a fascinating and important story to tell. It also has clever writers. Yet it’s the cast that raises the piece from worthy drama to essential viewing.
Elaine Pickford and Karen Edwards – through fate – are on diametrically opposed pathways. Both are grieving a daughter murdered by the same callous individual. But due to circumstance, one has to scrap for justice and the other can put her efforts into mending her shattered life. We see the true impact and devastation of both paths here. Neither women will ever be the same again.
This has been patient and in-depth storytelling and a vital tale to tell. That said, with next Monday’s final hour of the six on the horizon, it is tempting to consider that A Confession was perhaps one or two episodes longer than it needed to be.
Then again, maybe Steve Fulcher’s rule-breaking rubbed off on Pope and his team here.
Next week sees the conclusion to the story and while we’re not exactly on tenterhooks, with no cliffhanger to tempt us into watching, we’ll be tuning in regardless. After all, it’s a story which deserves our full attention. Let’s just hope that lessons can be learned from the whole sorry mess.
Did you watch A Confession episode 5? What did you make of it? Let us know in the comments below!