One of Us fails to live up to its full potential, which can mostly be blamed on a boring, frustratingly pointless subplot.
One of Us‘ opening episode was an undeniably thrilling affair. With an enigmatic cast, comprising of veteran actors Juliet Stevenson and John Lynch with new talents Joanna Vanderham and Joe Dempsie, and set in the claustrophobic setting and timescale of a raging storm, it was an hour of gold BBC drama akin to Happy Valley and The Missing before it. It comes as a huge disappointment, as a result, that the three episodes that followed were messily structured, with a whole load of unexplored potential.
Four episodes is an unusual choice, even for a miniseries like this, and watching One of Us, you can understand why – though the first and last episodes are jammed full with revelations, shocking twists and opportunities for the cast to act their socks off, the middle two lack any speedy development. I’m sure the second episode, definitely the weakest of the bunch, will have caused a considerable number of Episode 1 fans to give up on the series.
Three episodes would have worked far better, and there are plenty of points to ‘cut the fat’ around the edges of the story. For a start, there’s the completely pointless subplot which frustratingly fails to come together with the main story. The detective on the case of Adam and Grace’s murder, Juliet (Laura Fraser), is blackmailed by a drug dealer after she sells him LSD, all in order to pay for her seriously ill daughter’s emergency operation overseas. It’s barely touched upon in Episode 1, and while you could perhaps understand its significance if it affected how Juliet dealt with the murder case, she instead does some typical bad TV-policing and isn’t even involved with the fallout when the real circumstances behind Adam and Grace’s murder is exposed.
Ah, yes, the circumstances behind Adam and Grace’s murder. When the truth comes out, it’s a great twist, though, being the sluice I am (I watch way too much Sherlock), I saw that big revelation coming a mile off. John Lynch is finally given a chance to shine in the final episode, with a monologue that almost feels like theatre unfolding before your eyes. Juliet Stevenson, though grossly underused in this final chapter, is also great. And the contempt you feel for Julie Graham’s Moira Douglas probably means she did a great job too. Claire (Joanna Vanderham) and Rob (Joe Dempsie) take a step back, but have both shown great stuff over the course of the series. Though too drawn out, the truth about Adam and Grace’s murder doesn’t disappoint, and is ingenious writing from The Missing duo Harry and Jack Williams.
It’s always disappointing when TV doesn’t live up to its full potential. Though One of Us shows glimpses of brilliance, it somehow feels simultaneously rushed and stretched out – the subplots shouldn’t have even been given the time of day, where the better stuff isn’t explored enough, especially where fallout is concerned. Harry and Jack Williams, however, are making a good name for themselves where thrillers are concerned, which leaves me even more excited for the long-awaited second season of The Missing. Even if it is James Nesbitt-less.
One of Us aired on BBC One. You can catch all four episodes on BBC iPlayer now.