DI Anna Travis (Kelly Reilly) is back after her promotion, reunited with DCS James Langton (Ciarán Hinds) and DCI Mike Lewis (Shaun Dingwall), who is also promoted to head up his first murder case, a fatal shooting in a notorious drug dealer’s squat. The victim is Frank Brandon (Callum Sutherland), disgraced ex-police officer and friend of Langton’s. The team discover that Frank has recently married Julia Larson (Stine Stengade), a glamorous, wealthy woman, after working as her driver. It’s an incongruous set-up, and Travis digs deeper into the not-so-grieving widow’s story.
Travis pays a visit to an eyewitness from a neighbouring flat, Mrs Webster (Marjorie Yates). She’s clear she heard three shots, but it is her autistic son, Jeremy (Geoffrey Streatfeild) who holds the key information. Under gentle but tenacious questioning, he reveals that he has written down every car parked on the estate on the night of the shooting.
The murder team are under the spotlight on this case, the press love a story about a bent copper and are all over it. DCI Lewis is feeling the pressure and in his eagerness to be seen to wrap the case up quickly, cracks are beginning to show. When Travis raises the possibility of a third shot being fired, Lewis dismisses it out of hand. Meanwhile, forensic evidence indicates that a second person was with Frank when he was killed. Another junkie? Someone who went there with him? Either way, they’re a witness.
Travis questions Frank’s widow, Julia. Though she is evasive and truculent, under pressure Julia hands over information on Frank’s boss at the chauffeuring company, Danny Petrozzo (Enzo Squillino). While Julia is out of the room, Travis noses around, finding a photograph of her son with an older man, his hand attempting to block the camera. Clearly rattled by Travis’s discovery, Julia eventually admits that this man is her ex-husband, Anthony Collingwood.
The list of cars from Jeremy provides a breakthrough including a 4×4 registered to Danny Petrozzo and a van belonging to a small-time thief and drug-user, Eddie Court (Ashley George). Forensics come through with two leads; a print match at the squat for a notorious drug dealer – Silas Roach (Robbie Gee) – and traces of a rare and dangerous narcotic, Fentanyl. Striking out on her own, Travis returns to the squat and finds the third bullet, something the forensic officers had missed.
Under questioning, a scared Eddie Court admits he went to the squat to score his usual supply. Only this time Silas Roach was there as well as Danny Petrozzo, Silas’s brutal reputation making Eddie nervous. On his way out, he met Frank Brandon approaching, accompanied by someone very tall – “a proper lurch”. After hearing the shots, Eddie saw Silas fleeing, and then Danny helping this mystery tall man to his car. Julia visits her financial advisor and friend David Rushton (Andrew Woodall). She’s convinced she’s being followed and is terrified, with every passer-by seeming like a threat to her. Though he is warned to be careful too, Rushton dismisses her fears as mere paranoia.
Silas Roach is arrested and brought in a by a furious DCI Sam Power (Ray Fearon) from the drug squad. He’s livid because his whole operation has been trailing Silas and his network of squats, yet at no time did anyone from the murder team stop to pick up the phone. Silas had the gun still on him when he was picked up, however, he is terse and intimidating under questioning, refusing to co-operate – it’s going to be a long process getting anything out of him.
Travis researches Fentanyl, and is horrified at her findings. With the street name of Drop Dead, it’s been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of users across inner city America. If someone is now planning to deal it in the UK, the consequences will be deadly.
During a tense briefing, when Travis’s findings are interpreted by Lewis as undermining his authority, an anonymous tip-off comes through – Danny Petrozzo’s 4×4 has been found. Dispatched to work it together by Langton, Lewis and Travis open it up – to discover Petrozzo’s dead body inside.
Responsible for some of television’s most famous characters, Lynda La Plante explains why her latest protagonists in Above Suspicion work so well.
“I think it’s really down to the, will they won’t they, question?”
“A lot of women absolutely love Langton (Ciarán Hinds) and some find him really awful to Travis (Kelly Reilly). In that respect it’s a bit like Gone With The Wind, he’s so nasty to her at times but in this one, we do have the emotional impact when he tells her the truth about his life. We see that this vulnerability allows Travis to reveal her feelings for him, if only to herself, it continues to build the tension between them. I think this is what makes their interaction compelling.”
The juxtaposition of these tender moments with the fast paced drama of an investigation is also what makes the drama so intense and it may be hard to imagine that anyone would be able to have a relationship like Langton and Travis’ in this kind of high adrenalin, pressurised environment but as Lynda explains;
“It happens a lot, which is why it used to be very frowned upon for any fraternising of police officers working on the same case but also, a higher ranking officer with a young female officer would be even more controversial, though it does happen. In fact two of my most valued researchers are two very high-ranking police officers and are married to each other. Just like any workplace romance, if there’s a relationship between staff there are always raised eyebrows, murmurings and nudges, it’s office gossip.”
In a similar way to the world in which they operate there is a polarisation between Langton and Travis that seems to pull them together, however as Lynda explains, beyond the surface tension there are some fundamental similarities between the two.
“Langton is a dedicated police officer and an exceedingly good one who has very strong gut instincts, but he is not an intellectual man. He’s hardly ever read a book, if it wasn’t connected to a crime. However, Travis is university educated and different… she also stands up to him, which none of the other women or men do. But like Langton, Travis is actually very intuitively intelligent and in many ways has a similar trait to Langton in that, she won’t let something go. This makes her a very good detective, she could very easily dismiss the fact that one of the witnesses said she heard three bullets, her persistence in uncovering the detail proves to be the key in this case. A fact that Langton admires.”
Monday, 3 January 2011, 9:00PM – 10:00PM ITV1