Dark Heart Episode 2 brought the first major storyline to a close in an enjoyably straightforward manner, and the show, despite some flaws, remains very watchable.
This recap of Dark Heart Episode 2 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
A thing I noticed in Dark Heart Episode 2 is that paedophiles always seem to have similar decor. This is in film and TV, anyway, but why wouldn’t I take that as gospel? Dirty, thin carpets; old, battered furniture; a hazy atmosphere tinged bluish by cigarettes and presumably gaseous self-loathing. This is Paedo Chic 101, and ITV’s new procedural is dedicated to tradition.
This second episode brought the nonce-bashing conspiracy to an end, after having weaved a serpentine trail through support groups for victims’ families, the grotty homes of tight-lipped, chain-smoking retirees with something obvious to hide, and dimly-lit interrogation rooms where DI Will Wagstaffe (Tom Riley) called a man who had just attempted suicide a lying prick.
Will’s simmering trauma reached a boiling point when the killer was revealed to be his friend and colleague, Rick, whose barking cough was actually stage 4 cancer. Tom Brooke always plays a wrong-‘un, doesn’t he? The cancer wasn’t the motive, by the way, just the excuse. Turns out his daughter was raped and the perpetrator subsequently got off. (Legally speaking!) So after finding out he only had a few weeks left to live he just thought why not get the chainsaw out?
To Will, though, in the underlit basement where he has his latest victim tied to a wheelchair, he puts it thusly: If this guy was the one who murdered your parents, wouldn’t you be down for a little vigilantism? It’s a fair point, but Will rises above it. I greatly appreciate that Dark Heart Episode 2 had the hero and the villain engage in a good old-fashioned fist-fight. It’s the way to settle things fairly, after all. (Will took his licks tonight; he got filled in by Rick’s fellow conspirator Bob Jessop (Christopher Fulford) as well).
But never mind all that. The question, now that we’re done with this particular plot, is how things continue in the next one, so here are some random developments that’ll likely crop up over the next four episodes. Will’s sister, Juliet (Charlotte Riley), decided she was going to commit to her obviously lecherous and abusive boyfriend, Paulo (Edward Akrout); Will called Sylvie (Miranda Raison) for a partner in the no-pants-dance, and Josie (Anjli Mohindra) got enough to do in the investigation that she’s quickly dispelling any association with the terrorist she played in Bodyguard.
There’s was a lot to like about Dark Heart Episode 2, then, but also some bits to detest. Keeping most of the frame deliberately out of focus is aggravating as far as stylistic choices go, and having pretty much all of the major plot developments occur in this second hour led to a lot of contrivances. There’s only so many times Will can stumble on mission-critical information that has just been jotted in a notepad and left lying around.
But overall, I’m here for it. I like a straight-shooting crime thriller as much as the next guy, and I especially like unfussy, uncomplicated ones like this. Maybe next week Will gets to win a fight.