Silent Witness 2019 continues its disinterested foray into transgender issues with “Two Spirits, Part Two”, and the result is predictably ineffective.
This recap of Silent Witness 2019 Episode 2, “Two Spirits, Part Two”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
At some point Silent Witness just became part of the British television landscape, and nobody really noticed. Almost everyone you know has seen at least one episode, probably several, but I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who considers it can’t-miss telly. Silent Witness 2019 is even less so; the thing has been around so long that it’s basically on autopilot, chewing through topical inspirations for rote killings that are neatly solved and forgotten about each week. Such is the case with “Two Spirits, Part Two”, which was no better than Part One.
It’s the presentation, I think. It’s all just so tame. Our team of forensic brainiacs recount loaded terms like “trans” and “pronouns” with the same disinterested drone they use for recounting causes of death or dry medical factoids. You can usually tell by how much a regional accent stands out – it’s the only time any of the characters resemble human beings and not assembly-line automatons.
This is why transgender issues forming the backbone of this two-parter was such a goofy idea. The same goes for the brief instances in which characters in “Two Spirits, Part Two” discuss adjacent details like the Home Office making a fuss about spending. If these people hardly seem to care, why should we?
“The man I married and who he is now are completely different people!” Ugh, you don’t say. Incidental lines like that one just show such a trite, surface-level understanding of the subject that it’s almost embarrassing to watch everyone programmatically cycle through pamphlet quotes trying to give the case some semblance of topicality. Silent Witness is much better when it concerns itself with the politics of its own team, such as a heated bust-up about who’s to blame for bailing a potentially dangerous suspect. Everything else just feels like a distraction.
But even the core of the show isn’t that interesting. The mystery of “Two Spirits, Part Two” just isn’t all that mysterious; there’s no propulsion to the investigation, no real attention paid to the basics of suspense-building and storytelling. It’s just a rote procession of one character explaining the latest findings to another, with occasional breaks for the robots to passably imitate sentience. This is a consequence of a show through no fault of its own becoming a national fixture; everyone is so used to it that nobody cares enough to fix the problems with it.
I get the sense that this twenty-second season is going to feel like a long one.