Kit Harington turns the smugness up to 11 as “Alex”, an estate agent accused of raping a colleague.
This recap of Criminal: United Kingdom season 2, episode 2, “Alex”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Of all the guest stars in this season of Criminal: United Kingdom, Kit Harington, King in the North, is perhaps the most prominent. Fittingly, then, this episode opens with a seven-minute monologue in which he lays out the exact circumstances of the crime he’s being accused of, which is the rape of an employee. His character, Alex, is a smug, posh estate agent, and the world needs no more of those, but as things persist it becomes increasingly clear than perhaps being a w*nker isn’t in itself a crime.
The supposed victim’s name is Sarah Macklin. As Alex explains, they were out drinking. It got later, everyone got drunker, and eventually, he and Sarah went back to his place — at her request. They kissed. He booked an Uber that she refused to leave in. Eventually, they had sex, badly his by own admission, and in the morning she was gone. Neither of them mentioned it in the office. Now, a week later, she’s claiming that he raped her.
He starts to cry.
I mean, obviously, he starts to cry, right? Who wouldn’t? Tony and Natalie are conducting the interview, and both obviously despise Alex, but the point is that he seems contrite. He seems to be telling the truth. And the point of the episode is what if he is?
Sarah has a friend named Claire Hassan, whom she texted that night with a dissatisfied emoji and a message saying Alex just kissed her. This is brought up on the screen in the interview room and is part of a chain of evidence that looks damning but is consistently explained away by Alex being uncomfortably smug and arrogant. He claims that Sarah liked him, fancied him, and the disappointment in the message was that they only kissed while she wanted more. He’s so smug about this that you can’t help but hate him. Yet, what he’s saying makes sense, doesn’t it?
Alex has a girlfriend who he supposedly loved but who he pretended not to in order to get Sarah into bed. He’s not a nice guy, not a responsible partner. This comes out as we go through Sarah’s account of the evening, which is similar to his except in some pretty key details. She mentions that he selected the music and that he selected a song that reminds him of what people are doing to the world that sometimes makes him cry. Ha! That embellishing detail, a cold man’s obvious attempts to present himself as thoughtful and emotional, rings truer than anything. Including, it must be said, the rape allegation itself.
By the time Kyle is chasing up a mysterious missive between Sarah and Claire that mentions a “bungalow reunion”, it’s obvious where the episode is going, but it’s surprising how far in that direction it ventures. Alex suggests, reluctantly, that Sarah slept with him in the hopes of securing a promotion that she subsequently wasn’t given. At this point, the interview is suspended so that Alex’s lawyer can layout to him the significance of Sarah’s medical report, which it turns out means very little. Internal bruising on its own can never prove rape — there’s always a way to prove the sex was consensual, even when it wasn’t. Alex’s solicitor is genuinely crying while explaining this, obviously deeply disturbed by the injustice of the system and how it’s so unfairly weighted towards men. The cops make a big song and dance about bringing in the file and thickening it up with blank paper and slamming it on the desk because they know that it can’t prove anything either way.
This is meaty stuff for Criminal to chew on, especially since there’s an internal discussion among the police officers about their assumptions. Eventually, Kyle gets to the bottom of what the bungalow reunion was in reference to. Sarah’s friend, Claire, was paid to leave her last job after not getting a promotion and accusing her boss of sexual misconduct. She used the money for a trip to South Africa and took Sarah along. The bungalow reference was obviously her way of saying, “Shall we do it again?”. Alex is free to go. But the most striking moment of the episode is that he won’t. He wants some kind of form or something official to prove he didn’t do what he was accused of. These allegations stick, after all. He tells a story of how a place his mother owns and rents out to students was raided by the police and that everything was subsequently put back in order. He wants the furniture put back just how it was, but it won’t be. Eventually, uniformed officers drag him out of the room.
Thanks for reading our recap of Criminal: United Kingdom season 2, episode 2, “Alex”. For more recaps, reviews, and original features covering the world of entertainment, why not follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page?
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.