“Everybody argues, don’t they? It’s what they do.”
Domestic violence, murderers on the Underground and weirdly intense love affairs, not to mention a level of gore that makes lunch deeply inadvisable, make Falling Angels pretty standard fare for Silent Witness. Admittedly, I did find the actual events of this episode a little hard to establish, partly because I was concentrating on the aforementioned lunch: after a bizzarely impressionistic opening scene that only makes sense once the credits have rolled (never a good sign), a vicar is murdered ‘orribly and the detective investigating her death is determined to pin it on her husband. At oblique angles to this main plot, there’s this desperately odd thing going on between a homeless man and a businesswoman, which is extraordinarily well-acted but nevertheless puzzling because they only just met and now he’s watching her at work and being all intense and weird and she doesn’t seem to mind and WHAT IS HAPPENING? Plus, one of the detectives asks Nikki to investigate his father’s murder, but there’s something shifty going on there as well.
I suspect this confusion is partly a result of the two-episode format which Silent Witness handles better than Lewis or Endeavour, both of which have also been cut down from two-hour episodes: typically, confusion proliferates in the first half to be solved in the second, as opposed to simply splitting the story in half at the requisite point. It’s an effective structure, but very disorienting.
I also like that Silent Witness shifts its focus from the mechanics of the Murder Mystery towards the emotional conflicts involved in a murder, both within the team that investigates the murders and out into the worlds of those directly affected by it. Most murders, after all, are relatively easy to solve, and many look the same; but no two people are the same, and it’s the story around the murder that’s interesting to watch. Or something.
Anyway. I’d like to see what the writers can make of the rather claustrophobic confusion that reigns in this episode. Judging by the teaser, it should be interesting.