“Jay” approaches the topical issue of illegal immigration from a novel perspective to compelling effect.
This recap of Criminal: United Kingdom Episode 3, “Jay”, contains spoilers. You can check out our spoiler-free season review by clicking these words, and our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these ones.
It was virtually an inevitability that Criminal: United Kingdom would include an episode about immigration, and this is it. And there’s an immediate sense that this is a case of unusual importance. The feeling looms over proceedings here more than the giant accused, an unfortunate lorry driver named Jay who resembles a wildling giant from Game of Thrones.
The term “gentle giant” probably applies here. Jay is huge, but he’s evidently nervous — or perhaps terrified would be more appropriate. That might be due to the gravity of the case, though. Jay is accused of inadvertently smuggling illegal immigrants into the country and then abandoning them to die once he became aware that the authorities were pursuing him. The two big questions of Criminal: United Kingdom Episode 3 are whether Jay really was transporting immigrants, and, if he was, whether they’re still alive.
An extremely cool-looking shot of the assembled observers on the other side of the two-way glass helps to set the scene here. And the interrogation begins. Other, similar cases are referenced to help raise the stakes; the matter of the missing immigrants forms an effective dramatic ticking-clock. Left alone in the truck trailer, it’s only a matter of time until they die.
A major deviation occurs when Jay’s solicitor picks up on something odd. After having been made to wait in the corridor right by the vending machines and not seeing anyone help themselves to a drink, he’s surprised to see Hugo, one of the interviewing officers, with a full mug. What’s in it? He claims coffee from a personal thermos since nobody likes the machine’s coffee — he even offers the solicitor a sip. But in the observation room, Paul takes a drink from his flask and discovers it contains vodka, throwing the entire case into serious jeopardy.
In a moving moment, the officers decide that any potential consequences of continuing the interview are unimportant when compared to the fate of the human beings who might be trapped in an abandoned trailer. Eventually, Jay gives up the location; the trailer’s empty. No signs of human occupancy.
Criminal: United Kingdom Episode 3 might have built to a vaguely anticlimactic ending, but when you think about it, perhaps not. It was a story of exploitation of not just immigrants but hard-up Englanders who can be manipulated into making desperate decisions for the vague promise of financial recompense. It was current and truthful, and the sheer number of people who might have been unmoved by the prospect of seeing many dead immigrants probably reinforces how smart of a decision it was not to include any.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.