It may sound like an ITV teatime quiz show, but Trigger Point is anything but. Televised a good six hours later in the schedules, this new edge-of-your-seat drama from the third channel is much closer related to another popular TV programme… The phenomenon that is Line of Duty.
Of course, we don’t expect a round of applause for pointing that out, it’s more than a little obvious. Screened in the same 9pm slot on a Sunday night, heavily promoted, starring Vicki McClure as a brave, no-nonsense cop and produced by Jed Mercurio, the comparisons are as obvious as they’re no doubt welcome by ITV executives.
It doesn’t take more than a few minutes of watching this new six-part bomb disposal thriller to realise that we’re all in for similar levels of tension as served up by the Beeb’s corrupt copper drama too.
The basic premise is this – a cunning terrorist or terrorists is/are out there, creating and planting sophisticated bombs around the capital. The public’s last line of defence against them all exploding and creating untold havoc are the team at the Metropolitan Police’s Bomb Disposal Unit. At the sharp end are the Met’s two star ‘expos’ – explosives officers – Lana ‘Wash’ Washington and Joel ‘Nut’ Nutkins. The former is played by McClure, the latter by Hustle’s Adrian Lester.
The pair go back. Way back. Former Armed Forces colleagues, their time spent working together defusing IEDs and the like in Afghanistan has created a strong bond and easy rapport between them. This opening episode confidently swings back and forth from tense wire cutter-focused explosives disarming to jokey banter between Nut and Wash.
There’s something undeniably Lethal Weapon about this first glimpse of Trigger Point. The teasing relationship between the two leads sets it up and the big scene around a bomb fixed to a toilet cements it. And, in case any of us missed it, Nut even wipes his brow after a particularly tense scene and informs us all how he’s ‘getting too old for this s**t’, just like Danny Glover’s Murtaugh.
Alright, so a few of the zippy little back-and-forths clang when they drop, but luckily for everyone concerned, the two leads are TV royalty. Lester is a safe pair of hands and Vicki McClure’s arguably the finest actress working in British television. They can deliver even the clunkiest lines in a realistic way. Any script flaws are only really noticeable when lesser actors playing peripheral characters are asked to utter them.
There is, of course, a deliberate pace to Trigger Point – at least in this first hour, anyway. Building tension takes patience and so slightly more restless viewers could argue that this opener was slow going in places. That may be true, but it’s how you build up to an ending like the one we were treated to.
We’ll swerve the specifics, in case some of you are yet to catch the last five minutes. Suffice to say that it contains a rather pivotal scene, one which was designed to come as something of a shock to us sat at home. That may well have been the case for those who’ve never seen Line of Duty before. But for anyone familiar with Jed Mercurio’s output, it could be seen coming from a mile away.
We get the impression that there are going to be plenty of taut set pieces, countless twists and turns and a lot more bottles of water and cans of energy drink swigged from over the coming five weeks (seriously, hydration is clearly a focus for the police’s counter-terrorism unit). We’ll be here for it. Even if that will also mean being here for the occasionally cringe-worthy dialogue too.
Next week’s Trigger Point looks set to be a slightly different proposition to the first, given the events of the final few minutes here. We’re expecting a fair bit more pouting and sadness, for starters. Possibly the odd flashback scene to tense scenes in Afghanistan and some more London-based bomb defusing. Plus, of course, some serious plot unfolding and – hopefully – a little bit of payback. Whatever happens, it’ll no doubt be explosive (sorry).
Did you tune in for Trigger Point episode 1? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
Still catching up on Trigger Point episode 2? Read Steve’s review of episode 1 here.
After a thoroughly action packed and unrelenting opener, ITV’s newest Sunday night drama Trigger Point has dropped its octane levels a little and settled down.
last week we’d briefly wondered whether this Jed Mercurio-produced bomb disposal thriller might attempt to keep the tension ramped all the way up for its entire six-week run. That might not be good for our collective blood pressure, though, and so this second part saw a noticeable drop in nail-biting scenes.
We opened in the wake of last week’s shocking explosion, with Lana ‘Wash’ Washington (Vicki McClure) grieving the loss of her partner and best friend Joel ‘Nut’ Nutkins (Adrian Lester). She’s now been upped to his position as the senior in the team, something which seems to rankle colleague John (Kris Hitchin). That’ll likely be a plot point in the coming weeks.
Now involved in high level meetings to help identify who’s behind the ‘Westhaven Terror Attack’, Wash doesn’t have much time to cry for her partner because she’s got work to do – just without her pal by her side.
With Nut gone – and the dynamic between Wash and Nut gone with it – this second part does feel a tiny bit lost. It’s not quite clear yet if we’re now just following the mourning figure of Wash on her own, or if she might team up with any of her colleagues to progress the investigation, defuse the bombs and catch the man or men responsible. If she is to, her co-workers might need a little more writing and development. Particularly poor Danny (Eric Shango), who, so far, has been given less personality and responsibility than the now twice-deployed bomb disposal robot.
There is something else a wee bit off-putting about Trigger Point, we have to say. It comes in the shape of the show’s casting. And in a few different ways too.
There are just a few too many ‘who’s that?!’ and ‘Oh, that’s so-and-so from such-and-such!’ moments here. We’re not talking about the show’s lead being from Line of Duty, either. We mean more about how DI Thom Youngblood is played by Mark Stanley, who’s currently appearing in another ITV crime drama showing now, The Bay. And Warren Brown is Karl Maguire, while also being Raymond Mullen on The Responder on BBC One this week.
Then there’s the addition of former EastEnders actor Nabil Elouahabi, famous for playing ‘Gary’ in Only Fools and Horses. Now, the 47-year-old is a fine character actor, but in the last few weeks alone Elouahabi has had parts in two other ITV crime dramas, Vera and The Tower. Oh, and Kris Hitchin was in three of the four episodes of the recently-broadcast Stephen Port drama Four Lives. Mostly quirks of scheduling and partially explained by Covid delays to filming and broadcasting, we’re sure.
Finally, we can sprinkle on the fact that not only does UK TV comedy great Kevin Eldon appear as Lana’s father Jeff, but After Life’s Kerry Godliman is Sonya Reeves from the Bomb Data Centre. Oh, and then there’s the extremely distinctive looking and sounding Ralph Ineson (Finchy from The Office), who pops up as everyone’s boss, the shady and we’re assuming corrupt – or somehow involved with the bad guys – Commander Bergman.
We’re not saying a drama needs to cast unknown faces. Not at all. However, a balance has to be found. We’d argue that a slightly distracting number of recognisable faces have been hired here. Still, we’ll get over it.
This second episode was still kind of wobbling a little from the events of its opener. With no big bomb set piece, it needed to develop the characters. Which it didn’t, really. So next Sunday’s slice of Trigger Point has to either do just that or deliver us another tense defusing scene.
Part three, we’re imagining, will see Wash grow close to the charming (seeming) Karl. He’s a bit suspect though, isn’t he? Our guess is that he’s also an embedded baddie. The bad guys seem to be radicalised far-right extremists associated with the fictional ‘British Flag’ movement, using terrorism to incite racial hatred – which is a plot-line a little too similar to Baptiste’s second series from Autumn of 2021. Still, we’ll get over that too.
We left with Wash called to defuse a bomb in a mosque. It quickly became clear to her that it was a nail bomb, the sort made by amateurs, not pros. So this isn’t the same bomber. What it is, we’ll likely find, is a revenge attack. Proof that the incitement part of the main terrorists’ plan is working.
This Sunday’s Trigger Point felt a little wobbly and unfocused, but we’re convinced there’s enough here to justify watching on. A strong third part and we’ll be back on track.
Did you tune in for Trigger Point episode 2? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
Some spoilers for Trigger Point episode 3 below. Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 2 here.
Ordinarily, we try to leave spoilers out of our reviews. We’re not going to here, however – only the ‘bombshell’ (pun absolutely intended) at the end of Trigger Point’s latest episode wasn’t really all that explosive anyway. Which is a bit of a shame, given that the massive bomb that went off in the first scene, setting the tone, was extremely ruddy explosive.
The clues pointing lead character and investigator Lana ‘Wash’ Washington (Vicky McClure) to dodgy colleague John Hudson (Kris Hitchen – Four Lives, Sorry We Missed You) have hardly been subtle. The writers left such a noticeable trail of breadcrumbs it was like watching Hansel and Gretel make schnitzels on bicycles.
So either Hudson really is the ‘inside man’ bomber, as it very much appears he is. Or he’s being set up. But what kind of inside man leaves quite so much evidence in his work locker? A far-right extremist pamphlet and a London A-Z map book with rings around the bombing locations and the contact details of people and companies involved in the attacks… He may as well have just left a signed confession. It’s either slightly lazy writing or there’s something else going on.
Either way, we’re only at the halfway stage, so we know that Hudson is probably just one piece of the puzzle. The group responsible, the ‘Crusaders’, are likely to be bigger and more insidious than first thought. We could be looking at an ‘all the way to the top’ affair that sees various figures in authority involved. The appearance of Ralph Ineson in episode 1 as a high-ranking commander stuck out like a sore thumb, after all. Plus, the explosives came from Porton Down, the MOD’s secretive bomb lab.
Who else could be part of the Crusaders? Well, it seems almost a dead cert that Wash’s brother Billy (Ewan Mitchell – The Last Kingdom) is either involved or is about to be recruited into the network. And then there’s her secret work boyfriend DI Thom Youngblood (Mark Stanley, Kajaki). Theirs is a fairly new relationship; is he only with her to keep a watch on her during the reign of terror? We’re not sure, but he does have a suspicious apartment – a Thames-side flat that we’re fairly sure a Met DI couldn’t afford on his own. We smell a bent copper. And so should DI Kate Flemi–sorry, LANA WASHINGTON.
Let’s not forget Warren Brown’s Karl either, who’s come out of nowhere to sidle up close to Wash. Either he’s a Crusader looking to keep tabs or – more likely – he’s police or MI5 and been tasked with a secret mission to find out what’s going on with Wash’s ExPo unit. Or maybe we’re being paranoid. Perhaps he really is just a hunky mechanic who fancies Wash and likes playing pool on his lunch break.
At the midway point there’s still enough about Trigger Point to keep us tuning in and interested, but it’s all a little too easy to follow and predict at the moment. Hopefully there’ll be some curve-balls thrown our way in the coming weeks. Let’s see what shaking Hudson’s tree rumbles loose in next Sunday’s instalment.
Did you tune in for Trigger Point episode 3? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
Some spoilers for Trigger Point episode 4 below. Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 3 here.
Although he seemed a little too old for it, Lana’s brother had been led astray. Despite being a man in his late twenties, Billy Washington had definitely ‘fallen in with the wrong crowd’.
If your new friends encourage you to smash the window of a halal butcher in an act of racially-aggravated criminal damage, they’re not really your friends. Sound advice for life, that.
After going missing and not turning up to his own ‘birthday party’ – although who could blame him when the guest list extended as far as his mum, dad and sister… – Billy became a big issue in this fourth episode of ITV’s bomb disposal thriller Trigger Point. He became an even bigger issue when Wash discovered that her younger sibling was driving a car around East London that was rigged with explosives – an unwitting suicide bomber shoved in the direction of an AntiFa-style protest ‘full of a load of lefty w***ers’, as Billy rather plainly put it.
It was from Billy’s portable fireworks display that we got our big weekly boom-boom set piece. Fixed up by his unpleasant new far-right terrorists pals, we should have been suspicious of the car, really. It was always getting blown up, wasn’t it? After all, when was the last time you saw a Vauxhall Cavalier on the roads? The choice of wheels must’ve been a budget decision, surely. Only no TV production company wants to blow up a brand new 7-Series, do they?
The final 20 minutes were genuinely thrilling here. Trigger Point knows how to ratchet up tension and pull off action sequences. Anchored by Vicki McClure’s natural and realistic performance, they work brilliantly. It’s just something of a shame that the ‘normal’ scenes are rarely as enthralling.
What else is going on? Well, tensions on the job have seen unconvincing couple Lana and Thom grow apart, pushing her further into the arms of hunky sideman Karl (Warren Brown). Who, let’s not forget, is a mechanic. And a former bomb disposal soldier. So perfectly capable of wiring up a bomb to, say, a Vauxhall Cavalier…
While their burgeoning relationship may seem built on the things they have in common such as an army background and a love of ice cream, 8-ball pool and woefully poor banter, there’s more to it than that. We’re convinced Karl’s a mole, sent in to manipulate, distract and misdirect Wash.
He’s certainly won her attention and affection if this Sunday’s scene of them getting familiar in the garage is anything to go by. A passionate liaison immediately after watching your brother charred to death in a massive playground fireball? All in a day’s work for an ExPo officer, we suppose.
Elsewhere, Lana is in trouble at work for hitting her underling, Shifty John Hudson (Kris Hitchens). He’s almost certainly a racist bomber involved in the murder of her friend and now brother. Taking the context into account, surely it can’t be much more than a verbal warning?
Earlier on she’d tailed John to a Jewish centre, wondering if that might be the Crusaders’ next target. Before she could get any further intel, Thom broke up the surveillance because it was, he said, threatening to spoil existing monitoring of Hudson. How true that is, it’s hard to say. Depends how you feel about the potential dodgy-ness of DI Youngblood, really.
We’re now four episodes down, with two remaining. Things have now got twice as personal for Wash, so we reckon we’ll see a new, even more dedicated and aggressive side to the no-nonsense explosives officer from here on in.
Did you tune in for Trigger Point episode 4? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
Some spoilers for Trigger Point episode 5 below. Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 4 here.
While Trigger Point offers up quite a few different characters, there’s only really one person in this world that ITV has been presenting us these past few Sunday nights. And that’s our ‘Wash’, Lana Washington.
The creators of the tense bomb drama seem so impressed that they got Vicky McClure signed up, they’ve made her central to each and every scene we’re shown. McClure’s Lana is on screen practically every second. As she rushes from one explosion to another, at times it feels more like playing a video game than it does watching a TV drama – especially given Trigger Point’s emphasis on having our ExPo officer running to and from firebombs every couple of minutes.
The comparisons don’t end there, either. Like a game, the people on screen can feel just that little bit underdeveloped, almost like stock characters sometimes. The dialogue can edge towards exposition, almost like it’s being barked by a mass of pixels to let you know what your next mission is. ‘Press X to cut the red wire!’
Five episodes in and, if we’re honest, there are no great stakes here. Okay, we’re left with the cliff-hanger of a bomb on the street where a new left wing political party is HQ’d. One that, if it goes off, could kill a load of people. But that’s kind of been the hook every week. Sure, we get it, it’s a thriller about bomb disposal, what do we expect, eh…? Well, the answer is this: something a tiny bit more involving.
Perhaps next Sunday night’s closer will pull the rug on us and be a charred thrill ride. We suspect, however, it’ll likely just be more of Wash’s weird little vertical rat tail top knot thing, more people shouting ‘HARD COVER!’ and more scenes of Vicky McClure fiddling with her dead partner’s ‘lucky’ snips.
One thing we can look forward to is the reveal of who’s secretly a bad guy. We’ve known pretty much from the first minute that John (Kris Hitchen) was a wrong ‘un, something that was formerly confirmed here in part five. As for next Sunday’s finale? Well, Ralph Ineson’s Commander Bregman simply has to be in on it as well. Otherwise, why even cast someone like Ineson in the first place?
Then there’s what the writers are hoping is the surprise package. If it’s Lana’s new squeeze Karl, we’re in for one of the least surprising surprises ever. In fact, the only way to really shock viewers will be to make Warren Brown’s mechanic character a genuinely nice guy who isn’t mixed up in all the terrorism and bombing.
Watching television in 2022, we’ve all seen so many big final twists, it seems the only way to shock an audience nowadays is to not pull off a big final twist.
If Karl isn’t the secret terror cell leader, then his character’s entire reason for existing has just been to play some pool with Wash and set up a fairly uninteresting love triangle.
Thinking back over the series so far, a lot of bombs have gone off, haven’t they? ‘Well, it’s a thriller about bomb disposal – we’ve been over this,’ you might say. And you’d be right. But that’s kind of the point. No one’s really disposing of or defusing any bombs. The things just keep going boom-boom. Maybe Lana isn’t quite as good at her job as she keeps making out.
Next week has one more chance for her to prove she can actually stop bombs from going off and not just successfully run away from them and hide behind a car while they explode. The big device left ticking in the final moments here is hooked up to the mains gas supply and could ‘kill thousands’. It’s also one final chance to find out who’s responsible for all the carnage, as well as the death of her best friend and brother…
It’s Karl. It’s definitely Karl.
What did you think of Trigger Point episode 5? Let us know in the comments below…
Spoilers for Trigger Point episode 6 below. Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 5 here.
‘It’s Karl. It’s definitely Karl.’
That’s how we signed off our review of episode 5 of ITV’s big bomb thriller Trigger Point last week. We’re not bragging here, though. Alright, we are a little. But we weren’t alone in singling out Wash’s new squeeze as the really quite obvious ‘secret’ villain of the piece. Warren Brown’s character stood out like a sore thumb pressed down on a dead man’s switch connected to a bomb vest.
According to the show’s creator, Karl Maguire was supposed to be rather obviously the bad guy, to the point where us viewers were supposed to second guess ourselves on it. ‘We wanted it almost to look like he was so obviously the villain that he couldn’t possibly be the villain,’ Daniel Brierley told the Radio Times. Presumably while looking around furtively, dabbing sweat from his brow and adjusting his tie.
One pleasing thing was that ex-soldier Karl wasn’t – in the end – some sort of mad racist antagonist, so there was a slight twist which we didn’t see coming. His motivations for orchestrating the attacks were not born of far-right ideology; it was all related to a doomed mission he went on called ‘Operation Dynamo’ and the government’s subsequent cover-up of it. The military incident in Afghanistan left seven British troops dead and pushed Karl to the edge.
Of course, Wash had already sussed out what was happening shortly before seeing the proof for herself. Kerry Godliman’s Sonia had done some Only Connect/Sherlock/Jonathan Creek-style sleuthing to crack the ‘1912’ clue from the opening episode. The chemist worked out that it was code using atomic numbers from the periodic table. Karl had left a scientific breadcrumb trail leading back to himself. A bit nerdy for a vengeful killer squaddie type, but there you are.
As the final scene wrapped the plot up nicely and the credits rolled, we were left with a feeling of a story kind of well told, but no great sadness at that story ending. For all its occasional tense highs, Trigger Point had plenty of narrative, character and script-based lows – so it was something of a surprise to hear the continuity announcer so proudly declare that ‘Trigger Point will return for a second series in 2023’.
Presumably the decision to commission a follow-up was made before the show had aired, such was the – slightly misplaced – confidence ITV executives must have had in this ‘Line of Duty with bombs’. Critics and audiences haven’t been overly kind about first-time screenwriter Brierley’s six-part series.
The big bomb set pieces proved to be highlights throughout the series, so Trigger Point series 2 has something to aim for. Vicky McClure is an accomplished actress, but she needs Wash to be more sharply defined as a character next time out.
We’re not particularly excited about the premise of its return, but we’ll likely give it another go. Trigger Point wasn’t exactly explosive, but nor was it a total bomb.
Did you tune in for Trigger Point episode 6? What did you think of the series? Let us know in the comments below…