The Widow follows Kate Beckinsale as she plays an unstoppable widow bent on finding her husband whom she presumed dead in this eminently bingeable mystery.
Georgia’s (Kate Beckinsale) husband Will (Matthew Le Nevez) is an aid worker whose plane went down in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His body, though never found, has been presumed dead. Three years later, she’s beginning to move on. Then she sees him on the news. Great premise.
Of course, she returns to the Congo to search for him. In doing so, Georgia uncovers a conspiracy surrounding the plane crash, the aid work, child soldiers, a blind man, other unknown survivors from the flight, and much more. This forces Georgia to come to terms with her grief, with trust, with just about everything she knew about her husband. And it’s darned compelling.
One of the things that I’ve always loved about British television (that the US is finally coming around to, though still not in the mainstream) is that you can have a limited series that’s essentially a one-off novel. We don’t need seven seasons and a movie to deem a series worthwhile. In this day and age, I’m happy that we’ve got shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, the Marvel series, Game of Thrones, Star Trek: Discovery, and so many more coming from the US, though I’m equally as pleased that we’ve got access to some of the great UK series through Amazon and other streaming platforms. The Widow may not break the ground of Broadchurch or be as beautifully shot as Shetland, but it’s just a good solid workhorse of a series. It’s intense, compelling, filled with twists and revelations not only of plot but of character. There’s a good premise behind it all. I’m in.
Beckinsale has been seriously hit and miss throughout her varied career, running the gamut from Jane Austen adaptations to cheap horror to leading the Underworld franchise (which, despite my love for it, is just bad!). But here, she’s doing the work, not phoning it in, but digging into a character who’s with us for more than 2 hours. She struggles with finding answers for her husband’s reappearance while also struggling with the implications that, if he’s alive, he must have faked his death. Regardless, she needs answers. And in her wake lie many bodies strewn about.
The series deals with big themes such as greed and its consequences, the lies we tell ourselves and our loved ones, and the dark truth about human nature. Tragedy lies at its heart. Everyone has a past, everyone hides, everyone lies.
It’s refreshing to see Charles Dance in a supporting role who isn’t just a version of Tywin Lannister. Don’t misunderstand me–he is brilliant as the evil, manipulative Lannister patriarch, but it’s wonderful to see that he can do more than just twirl his mustache and make war while insulting Peter Dinklage. Dance still possesses a scathing gaze, but in this case that gaze works for good (possibly).
Alongside Dance come some excellent supporting actors: Alex Kingston (River Song from Doctor Who, among other things), Ólafur Darri Ólafsson plays an enigmatic empathetic side character with a secret, and Jacky Ido does an excellent job as well.
Again, The Widow, written by Harry and Jack Williams, breaks no new ground, and it has its flaws, but this solid series works like a well-written beach read. It’s hard to put down.
Tyler is a teacher, librarian and the Co-host of The Geek Card Check Podcast. He has been a Film Critic for Ready Steady Cut since 2018.