Accused Episode Two: Anne-Marie Duff and Olivia Colman both shine as this drama explores what a mother would do to help her son

by Matt D

One of the best things about watching Accused is that Jimmy McGovern never lets you know straight away why his characters are appearing in court or what crimes they’ve been charged with but instead lets us make our own minds up whether they deserve to be there and makes us question whether we’d have done the same thing in that situation. As I don’t want to spoil anything for our readers if you’ve yet to see the episode then I suggest you watch and journey back after you’ve done so as I think Accused does work best due to the element of surprise.

Anne-Marie Duff is our central figure this week as single mother Mo Muray who along with her mother, played by Mike Leigh regular Ruth Sheen, is up in court to be tried for the unknown crime in question. What we do know though is that Mo is a hairdresser who is opening her salon despite being warned not to by a local gang who want every shop to shut as a way of paying their respects to a fallen member of their group. Mo feels that she shouldn’t have to be fearful of kids so, along with manicurist friend Sue played by Olivia Coleman, cross the line of fire despite their customers and family members warning them not to. Later Mo and her mother are warned by Joe Dempsie’s gang leader Cormak that he’ll have to take action which makes them worry for the safety of Mo’s son Jake, played by Love Actually’s Thomas Sangster who is now all grown-up, however it is soon son who is later fatally wounded by the gang. To honour his memory Sue and Mo join the local ‘Women Against Guns’ group with the latter in particular excelling with her impassioned speeches about how they shouldn’t be afraid of the local youths but instead be informing the police of anyone they know who is carrying out a criminal activity. Mo’s messages are applauded by both the police and the local media however Cormak isn’t too pleased that he may lose control of his patch so takes action but how exactly do his actions make Mo and her mother turn up in court?

Last week’s Accused did have a simple story about a tragic love triangle however it was almost over-shadowed by the sight of Sean Bean dressed as a woman however this week’s story about a mother’s love is very much front and centre with instantly recognisable characters as well as a story which is all too relevant for our times. The sight of the housing estate and the parade of shops covered in graffiti can be seen anywhere in the country while there are plenty of places in the country in which gangs of youngsters rule the area which make the community as a whole quiver with fear.

Duff is absolutely amazing as the formidable Mo who doesn’t want to be like everybody else in her area but instead wants to make a stand against these youngster however her actions costs her best friend her son. Mo is also a mother at heart and that is evident in the second half of the episode in which there are some really poignant scenes between her and Coleman’s Sue which are some of the episode’s best. Speaking of Coleman she also shines throughout the episode, but then she can do no wrong in my eyes, as Sue someone who is fairly quiet but displays most of her emotions through her facial expressions and mannerisms. Coleman’s moment of glory to me happened in the very last scene in the episode in which Sue and Mo have what could be their final moment together with both actresses really do all they can to make this situation believable. As far as the support cast goes Sheen and essentially takes the role of the strong figure in her household after Mo’s falters as her conscious threatens to get the best of her. Dempsie adds another supporting performance to his increasingly impressive resume which already includes Skins, Game of Thrones and The Fades. Finally Sangster also gets to shine initially playing a stroppy teenager his character evolves throughout the episode and you really understand why his mother would do anything for him.

I do have a few minor gripes about the episode which, though greatly acted throughout, suffers from a story that slightly runs out of steam in the final third and I think that the big revelation about the crime is stretched a little too much. I also thought that the way that the police finally discover the truth about the reason that Mo and her mother end up in the dock was also a little far-fetched and didn’t feel as truthful and realistic as the rest of the episode was. I think these criticisims can be overlooked by anybody who is a fan of powerful and impactful drama that really stays with you long after the end credits have rolled. As much as I loved Sean Bean’s performance last week it was only his convincing portrayal of a woman that was memorable while this week everything from Sean’s shooting to Sue’s final speech will stick with you. This is both a credit to McGovern’s natural storytelling and the performances from the main cast notably Duff and Coleman both of whom should receive some sort of accolade for their turns here.

Did you enjoy this week’s episode of Accused? What did you think to the performances? Leave Your Comments Below.