Bloodlands, episode 4 review: a daft end to a disappointing series

So we know the identity of Goliath in Bloodlands (BBC One). Plenty of viewers, including your reviewer, thought it would turn out to be Tom Brannick’s wife, who would appear in the final episode as a grand twist. But it was Tom Brannick after all, except his reasons for doing it were all over the place. Rather like this drama.

Oh, this series has been a disappointment. It started with promise. But if you set out your stall as a gritty thriller, you can’t take the plot down daft alleys. There was Dr Tori Matthews (Lisa Dwan) sort-of-kidnapping Brannick’s daughter – that’ll be this doctor’s second kidnap in a month – to lure him to her remote cottage, then demanding that he out himself as a mass killer. He tells her that she can have a gun that ties him to all the murders, she just needs to retrieve it by driving for miles then retrieving it from under some lobster pots. The good doctor follows his instructions to the letter, and, of course, ends up dead.

Dwan, an accomplished stage actress, seemed to be over-acting as if in a daytime soap. Lorcan Cranitch was by far the best thing here as DCI Twomey. As for James Nesbitt – the problem with his approach was that when you build a character around moody squinting, you haven’t got anywhere to go. As the action ramps up, you can only get moodier and squintier, until you’re communicating all of your character’s thoughts via the medium of gurning.

Brannick had killed the two IRA men on the orders of loyalist paramilitary David Corry, who claimed to have kidnapped Brannick’s wife. But Corry and the wife were actually in it together, and Brannick then killed Corry because he was furious at the betrayal. Eventually he arranged for Tori to be murdered, and then he shot Pat Keenan. In for a penny, in for a pound. The BBC has announced that the series will return, presumably featuring the return of his wife. Nesbitt’s face-ache should have subsided by then.

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