Following on from the competently written first season, the second season of Strike can’t quite hit the same stride the first achieves. The mystery is arguably better this time around; with more potential suspects and an intriguing premise, its ultimately the disappointingly convoluted execution of these elements that’s the downfall of this two part mystery. Private Detective Strike (Tom Burke) and his assistant Robin (Holliday Grainger) are once again a compelling duo on screen and their chemistry helps to move the plot along but the story never quite follows their lead.
With word getting around London about Strike’s private detective business, the story opens with a busier than usual office where an estranged woman begs Strike for his help in tracking down her husband, a popular novelist. Missing for ten days, Strike and Robin set off to find out what happened to him and uncover more about this troubled novelist’s life. The first part works well in building the mystery and introducing us to some shadowy characters that all seem to be hiding something. The second part inevitably wraps the mystery up but its here where the two part structure rather than 3 parts last season plays a significant role. It feels a little too rushed, too conveniently wrapped up, and the anticlimactic ending is consequently disappointing because of this. The big reveal is well shot and surprising enough that it makes for compelling TV but I can’t help but feel the three act structure would have worked better here, with an extra episode used to pad the characters out and deliver some closure to some of the interesting subplots explored but never wrapped up.
The acting is still hit or miss this time around too, with some of the supporting cast having a tendency to overact but the colossal figures of Strike and Robin overshadow any imperfections in this department with their chemistry and brilliant acting throughout. Although we see a little more of Strike’s past through flashbacks and see this mirrored in Robin’s strained relationship with her fiance, it’s never explored in as much detail as it could have been. Ironically, the mystery itself is explored in so much detail that it becomes a little too convoluted for its own good with its elaborately woven plot. Without reading the book its difficult to determine whether the fault lies with the script or the book itself but as it stands, the execution feels a bit clumsy at times which is a bit of a shame, given how enjoyable periods of this season was.
There’s certainly a lot to like with The Silkworm though and thankfully, the show hasn’t lost its artistic edge. The stylistic visuals are excellent throughout, with a great eye for colour and some slick camera work. There’s an array of different shots boasted here; a mixture of overhead and sweeping, rotating camera shots as well as psychedelic, echoing flashbacks are an interesting visual treat but nothing quite as impressive as the opening shot in The Cuckoo’s Calling. The second season feels a lot more grounded this time around, with some of this accentuated by the slight claustrophobic feel of the camera work that stays close to the ground for vast periods of this season.
Whilst The Silkworm can’t quite hit the same stride A Cuckoo’s Calling managed, its still enjoyable throughout. The endearing couple of Strike and Robin ultimately drive the show forward and their charisma goes a long way to hide the imperfections shown by some of the supporting cast. The mystery is arguably better this time around too, but the convoluted nature to which its written is a little disappointing. Backed up by some good visuals and a surprising enough ending, The Silkworm is a competently done 2 part mystery that lacks the polish needed make it as good as last year’s valiant effort.