Last Night’s TV – Criminal Justice

criminal justiceThe second episode of Criminal Justice last night was every bit as gripping as the first, and the thick plottens as now Joe’s dead and there was a hint that maybe he’d been abusing daughter Ella.

If he was, then that would also explain why Juliet took the risk of asking Joe in episode one if he should really be driving Ella’s friend home. Perhaps it wasn’t concerns over his alcohol levels that were at the forefront of her mind.

Peter Moffat is clearly going to have us clinging to the edges of our seats until the final episode on Friday when, I’m sure, all will become clear.

One of the most striking things about last night’s episodes for me was Maxine Peake’s beautiful – if tortured – portrayal of the troubled Juliet. But to call Juliet ‘troubled’ is rather like calling a hurricane a bit of a breeze.

As we watched her compulsively pulling at her eyebrows – to the point of yanking them out making them bleed – and rocking methodically, questions about her sanity were still there; is this obsessive behaviour a result of systematic mental and physical torture or is her mental illness what caused her to be paranoid about Joe?

The fact that Peake can portray her character convincingly while leaving that question mark about her is testament to her astonishing abilities as an actress.

And we found out last night that Juliet is pregnant, hence the phone call between her and her friend, the doctor, in which he asked “Have you told him yet?” in the first episode. But again, the question about whether she and Dr Rose were having an affair was mooted quietly when we heard that – very unethically – he’d not only been treating a friend, he’d been treating her at his home and not updating her medical files.

Unwise friend motivated by kindness or unethical doctor motivated by lust/love of Juliet? I can’t wait to find out.

I’m also really enjoying the character of Saul, portrayed as a somewhat shallow but charismatic ‘old school’ bloke by Eddie Marsan. He’s got just the right amounts of chutzpah for an East End boy done good, and he’s totally authentic in his role.

More authentic, if disturbing, acting came from Jodie McNee as Juliet’s cellmate Angie who self-harmed in graphic detail in last night’s episode. As in the first outing of Criminal Justice with Ben Wishaw, we got to witness life from the inside of a prison, and it was every bit as frightening and horrible to watch last night as it was when Ben portrayed an incarcerated, naïve young man.

When Angie got a face full of boiling water filled with sugar from another inmate who believed she was a “grass”, the panic and pain that ensued were almost palpable and stomach churning.

One character I’m not convinced about – but perhaps only because I’m somewhat cynical – is DCI Faber who’s not only a ‘good’ copper, in every sense of the word, but he seems to be a strong advocate for women and our rights too. It’s not that Denis Lawson isn’t doing the character justice, he certainly is, but I can’t help but wonder if the historically overworked and pressured police force would produce someone so determined to prove a negative.

After all, they have their confession, they have their witness in Ella and they now have a dead husband and loony wife. I would’ve thought that, in the real world, nobody would be all that likely to be tugging on the ring pull of that can of worms.

Maybe I’m wrong and perhaps I’m doing a disservice to police officers, but still, I do think that with something that’s apparently so open and shut, the police would leave it to solicitors to dig up evidence to the contrary.

Not that my suspicions about the veracity of Faber makes any difference to the quality of this drama and I’m counting the hours to episode three.

Do you have any theories as to what direction it might all go in the end? Let us know if you do! I love a good theorise!

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.