Hugo begins episode 3 of the United Kingdom portion of Criminal with a zoomed out camera shot reminisce of The Godfather, discussing details of a case with a truck driver. As we continue to zoom out, Paul is sitting across from him while it’s revealed that he’s actually not interviewing anyone – he’s practicing his interview techniques. After some feedback from Tony and Hobbs, including reassurance that he needs to be hard on the next suspect, a large, menacing man is brought in for the interview while Tony and Hobbs head to the room next door.
The interview begins at 3:18pm with Jay Muthassim silent and refusing to give his name. He goes on to tell them the interviewers can say their bit and he’ll retort with what they’re missing. He’s a truck driver driving back from France and as Hugo asks him questions, he replies with no comment as he tells them he’s just a simple truck driver.
The previous truck stopped with the same CMR code the week before had been smuggling illegal immigrants and they suspect Jay may have been doing the same thing. As it happens, his truck was supposed to have the next truckload of immigrants being brought over. After being shown the people in the next room watching on, Hugo pleads forcefully with Jay to show where the trailer containing immigrants are. Jay’s silent though, refusing to give anything up.
Not getting anywhere, they’re called into the next room where they learn more about the trailer and its whereabouts. They decide on a risky tactic to badger Jay in the hope of forcing a confession or gaining some shred of evidence. Heading back in the room again, Hugo and Paul begin asking about the Tactograph in the lorry. This soon turns aggressive as Paul shouts at him to reveal where the truck is located. As Paul leaves the room, intending to get him on the data they have around the truck, Hugo stays behind and asks him calmly whether Jay knows what was actually in the trailer.
Instead he decides he wants a solicitor as he struggles to hold back tears, Warren heads out and gets him a solicitor who speaks to Jay privately before the interview reconvenes. Outside the room, the group discuss the logistics around finding the trailer with a 350-acre area, 70 officers on the ground and a helicopter overhead.
The interview then changes to one of quiet reflection, as Hugo divulges what happened with the migrants and how only 5 of them are left alive. With a solicitor now by his side, he interjects midway through and tells them they only had a CMS report but no actual evidence linking the migrants to his truck. However, he did hear the raised voices outside.
As Hugo becomes frazzled, he raises his voice again before the solicitor asks when the last time they offered Jay a drink was. It’s a simple question but one that actually catches them off guard as Hugo tells them there’s only a vending machine to get a drink from. He goes on to say the drink he has is coffee from his own flask and offers him some, to which he declines.
Hobbs puts a stop to the interview immediately and calls the detectives back in the room after Paul tries some of the drink from his flask. It’s not coffee. As Hugo gets his coat on to leave, Tony leads the room and asks one simple question “Is there anyone in a better position than Hugo to lead the investigation?”
Here, Hugo heads back into the room and tells them the truth – that it’s alcohol in his mug. He tells Jay he was up half the night looking at everything they have on him to paint a picture of the kind of man he is. He then goes on to tell them how he managed to top up his alcohol and turn it into an addiction; he just had a moment of weakness and that moment turned into a career.
It’s a revealing story, and one that helps him connect with Jay on a personal level. It’a enough to get a confession from him too, as he reveals that he received a message flagging up his truck and he had to drop the trailer off. Hugo pleads with him, asking where the truck is as the clock ticks down. He divulges the details and as he tries hard to hold back tears, Hugo heads back into the room next door. As it happens, Tony never actually started the recording so there’s no evidence of him admitting to drinking on the job.
With the driver charged with smuggling and the case all but solved, we end with Tony asking Hobbs out for a drink in the interview room as we zoom out from the room.
Once again Criminal delivers a good episode here and with more focus on the supporting cast of characters, the drama surrounding them balances nicely with the pressure cooker stuff inside the interview room. Seeing the tables turn and Hugo go under the spotlight for his carelessness at work is a really nice touch too although once again the real highlight comes from seeing characters change over the course of the episode. In the case of Jay, his confidence slowly whittles away to defeat and self-pity as he weeps and reveals everything by the end of the episode. It’s all delivered so organically and does well to really round out this trio of UK episodes.
Quite what the rest of the countries have to offer in this series remains to be seen but Criminal gets off to a promising start here.