The first episode of Series 2 promises more of the wonderfully melodramatic and painfully awkward moments from the first series.
Doctor Foster returned on Tuesday night for another serving of tension, melodrama and betrayal. And, after a two year break, boy were we ready for it. Series 1 focused on the implosion of Gemma Foster’s (Suranne Jones) marriage in a plot that involved adultery, corruption, abortion and a big serving of vengeance in the final episode. It revealed something that many had long suspected; other people’s misery makes rather addictive watching.
The new series focuses on the return of Gemma’s ex husband, Simon, and his now- wife, Kate. From the sinister soundtrack in the opening scene to the slow arrival of red invitations, it is clear that the wreckage of Gemma’s marriage is far from over. The smiles and civility in the opening scene never seem stable and the viewer is preparing for Gemma’s seemingly idyllic life to fall apart. And it does not take long to do so. Throughout the episode, simple details like focusing on hands, the stretching silences and the constant close ups allow the creeping unease and painful awkwardness to take centre stage. The tension builds slowly so that when the horribly awkward confrontations do happen, the somewhat unrealistically dramatic scenes seem completely in tone with everything that has come before.
Suranne Jones’ acting, combined with a script that uses dialogue only when absolutely necessary, pulls us into a world both intoxicating and full of distrust. And it is this which is so key to the success of Doctor Foster as a whole. Even as we feel distinctly uncomfortable by everything Gemma does, and know she is not acting rationally, we feel a part of the suffocation. The betrayal of her family and friends seems so inevitable and so personal that we root for Gemma’s success and revenge, even if this vengeance is self-destructive and beyond the realms of normal behaviour.
The episode ends with an image of Simon, Kate and Tom eating together. It’s clearly shot from outside the window so the viewer feels as isolated as Gemma. This final scene brings home what the whole episode has been suggesting, we’ve only seen the beginning of the wreckage of Gemma and Simon’s marriage and it will take more than dissolving the wedding ring to get closure. And, however it pans out, it will certainly keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
Doctor Foster continues Tuesday at 9pm on BBC One, but Episode 1 is available now on BBC iPlayer.