Time to go on holiday! Silent Witness has always loved a good mini break (they were in Afghanistan last year, though filmed in Morocco, obvs) and this week they are off to chop up corpses and make a nuisance of themselves in another country. Well, sort of. They are in Scotland with Martin Compston from Monarch of the Glen, who is today playing a detective (as he does, rather confusingly, in Line of Duty). He’s 29 but still looks about 12, as Jack remarks when he and Nikki started to help him with a murky investigation into the death of a murdered woman in a forest.
The whole reason for them being there is rather wooly. Apparently Nikki did a seminar that the main detective had seen and asked for her personally. But Nikki specialises in forensic anthropology, and the body is still a body and not just bones, so why they had to drag her and Jack up to the Highlands, I do not know. The detective muttered something about falling out with the local pathologist (apparently the only one in the whole bloody country), so we’ll just have to go with that.
Instead of the usual ultra-stylish first-class-airport-lounge designer lab they have at their usual London university, today they had a grim dated Scottish dungeon that looked like it had recently held the casualties of Burke and Hare. Also, kudos to the BBC for finding the only forensic lab in Scotland that didn’t have decent lights. But what’s this?! What did Nikki just say?! “Is there any chance we can have some more light?” HALLELUJAH! They’ve released that in 2014 one doesn’t have to do important science things in eye-straining darkness.
Not that Nikki spends much time in the lab. She’s too busy interviewing suspects and playing at being a detective. In fact, the writers this week abandoned all pretence and just had her interrogating people in interview rooms as if she was part of the Scottish police force.
This is the most compelling story we’ve had all series. Like the past two stories, it’s a slow and moody tale, but today feels deeper and more intense. It’s beautifully shot, very dark and unforgiving in tone and feels more like an episode from a Scandinavian drama such as Wallander or The Killing. And at the moment the story is running on its own steam, so let’s hope tomorrow’s part doesn’t opt for an ill-conceived finale fuelled by hysteria. There’s something interesting going on here, maybe even excellent, providing it’s all kept tight and comprehensible in Part 2.
Silent Witness: In a Lonely Place is available to view for a limited time on BBC iPlayer.