The Five Season 1 Review

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: September 25, 2017 (Last updated: December 8, 2023)
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When the DNA of a young boy who disappeared 20 years ago shows up at a murder scene, four childhood friends are brought back together and try to solve the mystery between them.

DS Danny Kenwood (O.T. Fagbenle) is the officer in charge of a murder investigation which brings back memories of events 20 years past. Blood found at the scene, that of Jesse Wells – the brother of his friend Mark (Tom Cullen) – who mysteriously disappeared when they were kids. Danny and Mark spread the word to the other two people who were there the day Jesse vanished – Slade (Lee Ingleby) and Pru (Sarah Solemani). The group join forces once again to embark on an investigation of their own, and it is revealed that nobody was as innocent as they claimed on that fateful day, but ultimately they get to the bottom of what actually happened.

Well, what a whirlwind The Five turned out to be. It was expected to be good coming from the mind of American writer Harlan Coben, but I don’t think anyone was ready for what was actually delivered. Any career prospects I might have had with the London Metropolitan police force very quickly vanquished after watching this. I went through endless explanations for Jesse’s disappearance and still failed to come up with the actual reason for it. Some cop I’d be…

Performances for the show were quite good, although some were better than others. My favourite performance was easily Lee Ingleby as Slade. He was a bit of an anti-hero and there was certainly a darker side to him that part of me wishes could have been explored further. I feel as though a lot more could have been done with his character, and Ingleby’s acting capabilities would definitely have allowed for this much at least.

I wasn’t the greatest fan of Sarah Solemani’s performance as Pru. It felt as though her character was just put there to offer a female perspective; to prove that the show did take on women in main roles. I just found her to be a bit whiney, and that she fitted the idea of your typical woman character a little too well. That being said, however, this wasn’t a formula that was followed for every female character. Hannah Arteton (yes, Gemma’s little sister) was terrific as DC Ally Caine – the only woman who really held her own against the boys I thought.

Acting aside, now it’s time to discuss where the magic really lies with The Five. The writing for the show was immense. From one episode to the next, your ideas on what happened to Jesse were flipped on their head. For a 10-episode run to keep up this level of suspense for the whole series is quite an achievement. It honestly was not until the final half hour of the last episode where all became clear, and in a time where many TV shows and even more films are growing overly predictable, this was very refreshing.

On the whole, The Five has been the new series of the year for me. It offered a story to rival season one of Broadchurch and a selection of solid performances, even if all of them weren’t quite to my liking. I, for one, was far from disappointed, and I think many others would take the same stance on this wonderfully twisty tale.

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