Episode 2 of Criminal: United Kingdom is quite simply fantastic. It’s an incredibly well-acted, thematically relevant slice of drama that serves up a thought provoking look at rape from the point of view of the accused rather than the accuser.
We begin with Alex being interviewed about his whereabouts on that fateful night. Dressed in a suit, he discusses how he and the team went for drinks at a pub that stayed open and evolved into a club setting.
He bought the first round and after that, whoever wanted to go home were free to do so. He goes into detail surrounding the trio left behind – those being Sarah Macklin, Andy and himself. This occurred around midnight.
Alex wanted to leave but Sarah decided against that. However, she speaks about the company and wanted to stay. She’s only been at the firm for a month but Alex gives her nothing but praise. Eventually they head home and drop off Andy first.
With just her and Alex left together, she wanted to go back to his for drinks. He’s pretty vocal about the fact she was drunk and despite her kissing him, her gets her an Uber but she refuses to go home. The consequence of this sees them involved in a love making session.
As he finishes his story, both Tony and Natalie tell him they don’t believe him. In the room next door, Vanessa and Paul discuss the mannerisms of their two colleagues. and whether they really do believe him or not.
Eventually they go through the details of the case and why Alex has been called in for questioning. Sarah’s friend Claire Hassan recommended Sarah to the agency. Claire is also flat-mates with Sarah and they were always messaging each other.
The night she was with Alex she sent several messages to Claire. An angry emoji face was then followed by “He just kissed me” which seems to imply it was a forced encounter. Alex however plays it off as Claire fancying him and fooling around.
After gathering their thoughts, round 2 of the interview commences. Sarah’s account does match Alex’s up until the encounter at his flat. He mentioned how his girlfriend was away and he probably shouldn’t have engaged in sexual relations behind her back.
Up until this point though he hasn’t even mentioned his girlfriend which does look a bit suspicious. Now things take a turn for the worst.
The two prosecutors bring up Alex forcing himself on her and how he tried to put his hands down her trousers. At least, according to Sarah’s report. She initially pulled away and asked for the Uber. He did order one for her but also cancelled it.
Just as scheduled, Paul brings in a large folder of “evidence” holding medical reports. As he slams it down, Alex immediately starts to become agitated. While Tony looks through the file, Paul tries to decipher the last text Sarah sent which simply states “Bungalow reunion.”
During a brief recess, Natalie realizes that no matter what way they spin this story, Alex will have the advantage. They can’t prove that the incident was anything but passionate.
When the two detectives head back in again, Tony tells him to paint a picture of exactly what happened that night – in particular the love making.
Despite pinning him as a suspect, they realize that actually Sarah and Claire may have been conspiring together to frame him. This allows Alex to go free thanks in part to Claire’s questionable past.
Only, Alex’s not satisfied. Going through this living nightmare for 5 hours, he asks for 5 minutes of Tony’s time in response. He wants to go over what happened and what the police are going to do about his shattered reputation.
He brings up the very real possibility that this false allegation will haunt him for the rest of his life. He brings up some good points to be honest and it’s something that Tony notices too.
As he stands in the room contemplating what Alex has said, he’s taken away by the police still angry and struggling to break free.
The Episode Review
Wow, what a powerhouse episode! The entire 45 minutes have you convinced that Alex is guilty and shows the power that a rape accusation can have. This feeds beautifully into the very real reality of false rape allegations being equally as powerful and damaging.
It’s a beautifully written commentary on the after-effects of the police force and what these accusations can do to a person.
Kit Harrington is masterful throughout too and produces some truly excellent acting across this episode. He’s strong to begin with but ends up perfect and scene-stealing by the end.
All of this crescendos into one of the best episodes that Criminal have produced to date. Quite how the remaining 2 episodes will play out, remains to be seen.
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