The problem with some three-part series is that the second episode usually gets lost in the shuffle. Whilst the writer may have incredibly involving beginning and a spectacular finale, the middle instalment often feels underwhelming. That’s certainly not the case with ITV’s fugitive drama Prey, whose middle instalment more than lived up to the promise made by last week’s opener. Part of the reason for this can be attributed to Chris Lunt’s fantastic script which once again combines thrilling sequences with more emotionally charged moments.
Just like last week we started with a thrilling opening scene with this one involving Susan Reindhart desperately chasing Marcus Farrow through numerous backstreets. But, just like the rest of the episode, he’s one step ahead of her, as he decides to jump off a ledge in order to evade his captors. As we learned last week, Marcus’ friend and colleague Sean Devlin had been working behind his back and had destroyed one of the two floppy discs that contained vital information about the murder of Hassan. Arriving at Sean’s flat, Marcus searches for clues as well as stealing his friend’s clothes, police badge and money. Although this sequence was incredibly fast-paced it still allowed for an emotional pause as Marcus looked at a photo of he and Sean laughing together. Whilst in Sean’s flat, Marcus deduces that his former friend has been working with Topher Lomax and later discovers the address of Hassan’s widow Leila. At the same time Sean is clever enough to realise that he has to fool the officers who are chasing him so pretends to buy some camping equipment and abscond to his hometown. He makes sure that his face is seen by both the girl in the camping store and the attendant at the train station both of who inform the police of his whereabouts. But in actuality Marcus is skulking around in a pair of stolen glasses and dressing up in a suit so he can make Leila believe he’s a police officer.
Marcus’ clever diversions are the thorn in the side of Susan who continues her dogged pursuit of him in an effort to prove her worth to her superiors. Following their altercation in last week’s episode, Susan believes that Sean was trying to help Marcus escape. When he fails to provide any information to speak of, Susan arrests him for perverting the course of justice but later realises that he won’t speak to her. Despite leading an important fugitive case, Susan still has time to continue to stalk her ex-husband by logging into his Facebook account and later turning up on his doorstep armed with pastries. I’m not sure if Susan’s stalking of her ex-husband worked as well this week and I don’t know how believable it was that she’d waste valuable time on him when she should be out looking for Farrow. But at the same time I believe that her obsession wouldn’t just grind to a halt and her using her spare time to pursue her ex sort of makes sense. Meanwhile, Marcus discovers from Laila that her ex-husband is still alive after she and her sister tracked him down after learning of a recent operation he’d had. Arriving at the address, Marcus discovers that it wasn’t Hassan who’d had the operation but rather a man who’d bought the dead man’s identity ten years ago. This man informs Marcus that Lomax provided him with false papers but that the real mastermind of the crime was somebody called Alex Chambers.
Just after gaining this information, Marcus is forced to run once again after Leila’s son calls the police to inform them where he’s gone. Marcus once again uses his ingenuity to walk straight past the police and enlists the help of the only person he trusts, his boss Mac, to try and discover why Devlin wanted the discs. Following another failed attempt to catch her prey, Susan wonders why Marcus is attempting to solve the Hassan case and realises that he’s not simply trying to run away from them. Susan later follows Mac to the diner and chases Marcus through the city for the third time in a row. After an exchange on the Trafford Bridge, Susan and Marcus come face to face once again as he tries to convince her that he’s innocent. Just like last week’s final scene, this episode of Prey ends on another plot twist that I for one didn’t see coming.
When writing these reviews I try to employ as few clichés as possible but I have to admit that I was on the edge of my seat throughout most of tonight’s episode of Prey. Chris Lunt made me believe in the three chase sequences in which Susan attempts to catch Marcus as all were slightly different from one another. I think what makes Prey so great is that both Marcus and Susan act the way that normal people would in the same situations. Although he makes attempts to outwit the police, Marcus also makes several mistakes while he’s on the run and doesn’t think about the fact that people could have a trace on the mobile devices he uses. I particularly like the character of Susan as she’s somebody who’s not really used to chasing after the bad guys and this is seen through the impact the opening chase has on her energy levels. Susan isn’t the usual officer you’d expect to see in a fugitive drama primarily as she’s as obsessed with her husband’s personal life as she is with catching Marcus. That being said, Lunt never makes Susan out to be the fool of the piece and the final chase situation more than demonstrates her intelligence.
In her portrayal of Susan, Rosie Cavaliero continues to impress as she really is able to convey that her character is an ordinary woman whose job forces her into extraordinary circumstances. I do feel that Cavaliero more than holds her own in her first big dramatic role and that her presence adds to the realism that Prey has. Meanwhile Simm continues to excel as he plays Marcus as sort of an accidental action hero as we see him leap from bridges and jump from trains during the course of the episode. As I mentioned last week, Simm is as comfortable in the quieter moments of the drama as he is during the thriller elements of the episode. This was witnessed this week in the scene in which Marcus is drawn to the photo of himself and Sean enjoying themselves. Craig Parkinson appears keen not to make Sean feel like a one-note character and makes him feel a lot different to the role he plays in Line of Duty. Parkinson makes sure the audience realises that Sean isn’t the villain that we thought he was and his touching scene with Marcus’ son Finn provided one of the episode’s best moments. Elsewhere, Nick Murphy’s direction continues to be superb as his intense filming style really catapults us into the action sequences that punctuate the episode.
After tonight’s episode of Prey I realised that I needn’t have worried about the middle instalment being the weak link of the series. Instead writer Chris Lunt was able to provide more thrills and spills whilst his cast really tried their best to make the characters feel three-dimensional. The big twist in the closing moments of the episode threw up a many new questions and meant that I really can’t wait to see how Lunt and company finish the story.
What did you think to episode two of Prey? Did you enjoy it as much as the opener?
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