Every crime drama likes a child abuse story (well, perhaps ‘likes’ is the wrong word) and Silent Witness has already had its fair share. This week’s two-parter, Protection, focused on how the social services deal with the issue of abusive or neglectful parents, giving the well-worn theme a new slant that wisely avoided black-and-white right and wrong moralising. The story began with a judge deciding that a child (pictured below) should remain in her parents care even though social services deemed her to be at risk and, at the same time, a dead adult male is a children’s playground. And guess what: the two incidents were linked! Well of course they are; Silent Witness likes nothing better than some join the dots plotting, and this week’s two episodes had to rely on some pretty large red herrings in order to make the mystery aspect work.
Although Emilia Fox attempted to steal the show with an awkward moment of emotion (come on Nikki, Amanda Burton was doing this better than you back in the 90s), the real star was Claudie Blakley (pictured below) as the social worker Louise Marsh. She sensitively brought to life what conflicted and stressful lives these people must lead and her role took a surprisingly hard-hitting twist as the second part moved towards an upsetting conclusion.
After last week’s stunner, Protection seemed a bit weak and predictable. Perhaps a little more involving and believable than the silly series opener, Sniper’s Nest, but still not one of its best. It certainly wasn’t ‘the most shocking Silent Witness episode ever’, a verdict BestDaily.co.uk hysterically pondered. And there were too many scenes involving Jack and Clarissa playing with a pet hamster for it to be anything other than moderately passable.
Silent Witness: Protection is available to watch for a limited time on BBC iPlayer. Images: BBC/BBC iPlayer.
This week's two-part story didn't reach the highs this series is capable of, but a superb performance from Claudie Blackley carried it through.