Litvinenko – Season 1 Episode 2 Recap & Review

Episode 2

The police are now treating this as a suspicious death, not murder, at the start of Litvinenko episode 2. They must interrogate and corroborate Alexander’s accounts now. Ray and Aiden are two liaison officers appointed to take care of Marina and Anatoly. It is a chemical attack on the UK. The government thinks it is a public health matter first and then a police matter. Clive fights this recommendation. Polonium is undetectable. Hence, without knowing where it came from, it can’t be traced. Therefore, the police matter first.

Marina and Anatoly are being moved to a secure spot. Officials are now being prepared with hazmat suits and “alpha detectors” to look for spots of residual radiation at places that Litvinenko mentioned he went on November 1st. Clive’s plan is to work backwards from where Litvinenko finished. They keep visiting places to look for polonium until they find any traces. The place where it stops will give them their suspects. Follow the poison and find the poisoner. He tells the team the risks involved and offers anyone to leave if they wish. They find polonium in the washroom at home.

Scaramella might have only posed to be anti-KGB to get close to Litvinenko. He is in Italy right now and they need to find him. He is a suspect along with Kovtun and Lugovoi. Tubs is given the task to find Scaramella. Manager Martin Spencer is questioned next. According to him, Kovtun was a low-key guy who kept to himself. But Lugovoi walked as if he owned the place. There are no CCTV cameras in the Pine Bar, unfortunately.

Brent is concerned about his pregnant wife. The doctor says it could potentially be affected if the time spent with Litvinenko was a lot. Itsu is the place they search for next. They find traces there as well. CCTV cameras in the hotel reveal that Lugovoi came with an entire family. That perhaps takes doubt away from him. Tubs get Scaramella’s number and Clive asks him for it. He comes to the UK when Clive tells him he wants to talk to him.
Marina and Anatoly are placed at the house of a Russian immigrant who also has a house in Ascot.

Traces of Polonium are also found at the Pine Bar. Scaramella denies poisoning Litvinenko. He was worried because they both were targets. But on tape, Litvinenko testifies to the contrary. Clive asks Scaramella about the other places he has been in London to confirm the theory that he did not carry the polonium. They don’t find any traces in the room he stayed in. Scaramella is officially declared a dead end.

The police view the footage from cameras and learn that after calling Litvinenko that day, Lugovoi and Kovtun went to the bathroom together and possibly exchanged the material. He met Litvinenko right after that exchange.

But what about the polonium in Itsu, before Litvinenko met the Russians? Lugovoi’s credit card bill revealed that he bought food from It’s two weeks before November 1. So the hotel was not the only place Lugovoi and Kovtun went to. Clive also asks his team to check the washroom in the hotel where the Russians went before meeting Litvinenko.

And his guess is right. It is actually Full-Scale Deflection: as radioactive as it gets! Kovtun and Lugovoi are the primary suspects now. As their “hit” was unsuccessful at Itsu, they called Litvinenko to the hotel. They even came with their family to make it look less suspicious. Now, where did they go where Litvinenko didn’t? If they find polonium in that place, it will physically link only them to the polonium. The aeroplane on which they came to the UK is what they’ll check next.

John Scarlett reveals to Peter that Litvinenko even did some work for MI6 briefly. Peter fights to protect him as a British citizen but Scarlett feels otherwise. They treat him as a Russian citizen. Brent and Jim’s samples come back negative, giving them some joy. As the police identify and check for traces on their seats, the suspicions are confirmed. Lugovoi’s seat has contamination.

When Clive takes it to Peter, he informs him that there is resistance from the top. The pushback comes from the government as Putin too is involved in the conspiracy now. The UK and Russia don’t have an extradition treaty either, hence making it difficult to get those men. Clive thinks it is possible and asks Tubs to go to Moscow. Marina gets a call from Lugovoi as the episode ends.

 The Episode Review

Episode 2 establishes Litvinenko as a pure police procedural drama. If the opening episode hinted otherwise, this seals the deal. There was a pronounced documentarian aptitude for storytelling and hardly any sensational treatment of the material.

Marl Bonnar and Neil Maskell gave solid accounts of themselves and did most of the heavy lifting. It is through their characters we get a balance of emotion and work ethic in the story. Sentiment – and the lack thereof – both convalesce in Litvinenko because of the different attitudes they bring to the table. Perhaps the only complaint in an otherwise well-researched effort seems to be confusion.

There were several occasions in the episode that pointed towards an ambition to focus on the process rather than the Litvinenko’s. Misleading is a strong word but somewhat fitting to characterize the story as a legal-procedural drama as opposed to a biographical account.

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