David Tennant impresses as a different kind of doctor in this grim opener.
This recap of Criminal: United Kingdom Episode 1, “Edgar”, contains spoilers. You can check out our spoiler-free season review by clicking these words.
The widely-advertised David Tennant episode of Criminal doesn’t disappoint, even if it doesn’t exactly thrill, either. The pieces come together perhaps a little too quickly, but Tennant’s performance as doctor Edgar Fallon, accused of raping and murdering his step-daughter, is enough to keep viewers enthralled until the conclusion.
Edgar’s netball-playing 14-year-old daughter was found dead in the woods with her skull smashed in. She was not a virgin at the time of her death. Edgar had chaperoned her on a netball trip, and as always, he had booked a hotel room with a double bed rather than two singles.
It doesn’t help that all he has to say for almost half of Criminal: United Kingdom Episode 1 is simply “no comment”. But the press interest in the case and Edgar remaining unusually tight-lipped mean that he’ll almost certainly go down if he doesn’t start talking. After all, the jury read the newspapers. Once he starts talking, he can barely stop. While he admits he can be angry and aggressive, he explains that he took his step-daughter on netball trips because it allowed him to get away from his wife — who, for the record, was always the one to book the double rooms.
His theory is the netball coach killed her. He found out they were having a sexual relationship, and when he did he confronted her in their hotel room, eventually hitting and injuring her. But that, apparently, didn’t dissuade her from seeing the man. Furious, Edgar apparently left without her. CCTV photographs seem to prove this.
There’s also the matter of his alibi. Being a doctor, Edgar is quick to point out the fact that dead bodies don’t develop bruises. Based on the bruising found on the corpse, a certain amount of time must have elapsed between her being injured by him and subsequently killed. And the photographs prove that in that intervening time he had already left without her.
It’s a simple thing that trips him up: A receipt from a petrol station. He didn’t just fill up but had the car washed, too. Why would he do that? It isn’t much of a leap to assume that she might have been in the boot — and it’s easily proved. The cast for her broken wrist shows tell-tale imprints of a boot mat unique to Edgar’s Audi. The police have him.
Criminal: United Kingdom proves a solid if unremarkable opening episode, one that unfortunately leans a little too much on the Englander charisma of its officers without suggesting at too many interesting dynamics between them the way some of the other collections have. The aggressive Paul is the most immediately interesting, and a blossoming relationship between two of the officers will pay off later. But for now, a satisfactory start — though not much more than that.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.