WARNING: spoilers below. Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 1.
For what was effectively fifty minutes of two young women surreptitiously passing objects between one another, that was remarkably good television…
The opening episode of ITV1’s four-nights-in-a-row drama Cheat set things up rather nicely on Monday evening: an Oxbridge lecturer and a wily and scheming young student clash when the former calls the latter out for apparently cheating in a dissertation. The student takes the accusation badly and casually decides to completely and utterly ruin her teacher’s life.
We opened this second chapter with a recap of yesterday’s events, including that flashforward to university lecturer Leah Dale’s husband Adam lying lifeless on a mortuary slab. We also glimpsed the two detectives working the case. This plot development is something we’ll have to wait for, though. Adam remained alive and well throughout the entirety of Tuesday evening’s action.
Back to those objects we mentioned… A cat’s collar, a yellow rose, a petal from that rose, an engagement ring, a picture of Adam’s unmentionables… Leah (Katherine Kelly) and young student Rose (Molly Windsor) spent the majority of this follow-up episode stealing, planting, dropping and sending each other totems in what’s become an increasingly psychological and nasty game of cat n’ mouse.
Speaking of cats, Leah gave Betsy the cat a proper garden burial here after Rose seemingly killed the poor moggy last night. The scheming Ms Vaughan wasn’t happy to leave her torment of Leah merely at felinecide, though. Her main goal here was to seduce Adam and further torment Leah with it, as well use a sexted photo of the man to blackmail her enemy into dropping her cheating charge.
What’s at the root of this burning hatred, though? To merely have a plagiarised essay at the heart of it all seems a little one dimensional. This is a drama from Two Brothers Productions, after all. Harry and Jack Williams, the writers behind The Missing, Baptiste and Rellik love their twists, turns and big reveals. Surely there’s something going on beyond the obvious here.
We certainly think so, anyway.
A couple of (non-rude) photographs seem to hint at that. One shows Rose apparently stalking Leah and Adam some three years earlier. The other – safely kept in a locked box in Rose’s room – is of Leah and her dad Michael, played by the esteemed Spooks actor Peter Firth. Do these snaps hint at a stronger connection between the two central characters?
We’re going to employ ‘the rule of Columbo‘ here and suggest that the most famous actor in the supporting cast must have a wider role to play in the story here. Leah’s dad could prove pivotal to the plot. But how?
Well, we found out that Leah’s mother committed suicide. It could be down to an affair she had with Leah’s father some two decades ago. Leah and Rose could, in fact, be half-sisters. That may be what’s driving the younger woman. Jealousy and resentment of a sibling.
Well, it’s a theory, at least.
We’re at the halfway stage with two episodes remaining and, we have to say, we’re gripped. What seemed a fairly limited initial concept has grown and evolved into a clever tale of obsession and manipulation that’s just introduced a real sense of dread that everything’s going to get tipped on its head very, very soon.
There was a telling moment here when Leah admitted to her doctor that earlier in the day she’d thought about tipping a hot cup of tea over her sleeping husband. Was that merely the idle thoughts of someone with depression? Or a hint at a darker side? Logic would tell you it’s Rose who kills Adam, but we’re not convinced, y’know…
Did you catch Cheat episode 2 on ITV1? What did you think of it? We’d love to hear…