Another Cup Of Tea?
Fresh off the recent airing of Cheat, ITV return with another investigative drama, this time promising something much closer to the gritty realism of Manhunt. Despite some formulaic camera work and a slightly rocky start, The Bay’s interesting dynamic between a few of its characters and ensuing mystery is enough to keep this one watchable, even if it doesn’t reinvent the wheel or showcase anything that hasn’t been done already.
After a brief introduction to the main characters we’ll be following, and one drunken karaoke party, we begin with DS Armstrong showing up late to a briefing. There, we quickly learn that two 15 year old girls have gone missing and tasked with fronting the investigation is Armstrong herself. Inevitably, things aren’t that simple and our cool-headed detective is paired up with Med, a rookie whom she’s tasked with showing the ropes.
As they arrive at the Mum’s house to look further into the case, a twist in the tale is revealed in the form of the kids’ Dad, Sean. It turns out he’s also the man Armstrong had a sordid, drunken encounter with the night before. After initial impressions are made, the two detectives get to work to fill in the blanks of the story, where the rest of the episode really ends up.
It turns out the kids aren’t actually Sean’s but the previous Dad hasn’t been involved or kept in contact for years. It’s at this point where the investigation takes an interesting turn and the DS coolly quizzes Sean on his whereabouts the night before. After an incredulous reaction he then gets annoyed and defensive before answering the question. This proves to be a key moment of foreshadowing too for a future plot development in the episode but before we can get there, DS Armstrong receives some bad news.
Her daughter has gotten herself suspended from school and after a few chaotic moments on the way home, Armstrong reviews the CCTV footage from that night. As it happens, you can see her and Sean leaving together so in a bid to hide the evidence, she quickly deletes the video and erases all proof they were ever together.
All of this leads to the final moments of the episode where a body shows up on the beach and as Sean can’t answer the questions around where he was that night, Armstrong has his arrested which is where we leave the episode.
This is a by-the-numbers investigation case that ticks all the usual tropes you’d expect from this genre. What is intriguing here though are the various character motivations and intricate ties between them all which is ultimately what will make or break this show.
While most of the editing is pretty simplified, there are a few nice stylistic nods worth pointing out. Whether deliberately or not, a fair few shots do include blurred items obscuring part of the frame and there’s quite a lot of shots involving side-views of characters. One particularly nice segment involves Armstrong inside her office and the ensuing smooth transition from one room to the next is actually quite good.
Still, The Bay gets off to a pretty promising start but as always, it’s far too early to gauge what direction this one will swing. The fling between Armstrong and Sean seems to be the real crux of the drama here and in terms of the investigation itself there are likely to be a fair few theories flying around about this one. Whether the true tale will reflect some of the well thought out ideas others will have remains to be seen but for now, The Bay has enough intrigue to keep you watching through to next week.