The police close in on a suspect and rules are broken for the greater good in a compelling second episode.
This recap of A Confession Episode 2 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Jeff Pope’s engaging fact-based ITV series A Confession began confidently and continues as such in A Confession Episode 2. The police procedural is retrained enough not to feel exploitative but compelling enough to give a sense of the scale and complexity of real-life investigations like this one into the 2011 disappearance of 22-year-old Sian O’Callaghan.
Steve Fulcher (Martin Freeman) and his team at Wiltshire Police approach the investigation in a workmanlike, unglamorized way, and somewhat mundanely — as ever, the leads come from painstaking examination and re-examination of hours of CCTV footage. The suspect is local minicab driver Christopher Halliwell (Joe Absolom), who is left free to roam in the hopes he’ll lead the police to his potential victim. An arrest is only made when he becomes a suicide risk after purchasing enough paracetamol to top himself with. A mistake is made that will come to haunt Fulcher as he breaks police protocol by interviewing Halliwell.
A concurrent narrative thread in A Confession Episode 2 concerns Karen Edwards (Imelda Staunton), another mother whose daughter Becky went missing eight years prior. Flashbacks reveal her daughter’s heroin addiction and Karen’s present-day refusal to accept her death; anyone familiar with the actual case knows these two stories are destined to intersect.
That actual case looms large over A Confession Episode 2, though only in a way that makes it more harrowing and further emphasizes the rigorous mundanity of police work. The show is easier to swallow when you imagine it as a made-up drama, but more impressive if you keep its basis in truth in mind; the ensemble provides a depth of emotion that rivals the plot’s careful recreation of official procedure. This is a heartbreaking and stark reminder of tragedy, officialdom and how the two can go hand in hand.