Did we like it?
A strong central performance from Jodie Whittaker as a bank worker who gets ensnared in a sticky criminal web anchors your attention, but all around her swirls inconsequential, convoluted plots, improbable heroes and villains and perhaps the dullest heist since the ‘re-imagining’ of The Italian Job.
What was good about it?
• Jodie Whittaker as bank worker who goes out with best friend Anna (Charlie Brooks) to celebrate her promotion, only to end up on the end of a metaphorical leash of Anna’s boyfriend Phillip (Laurence Fox) who blackmails her into participating in a fraud.
• Despite the dreary nature of the crime – it involves fleecing a multi-millionaire of £200 million quid, so don’t expect to have any sympathy for him – Whittaker manages to make you care about single mother Louise, and her dilemma of helping a criminal which will put at risk her job, and her only means of caring for her daughter.
• Whittaker infects Louise with just enough frailty to make you care, but at the same time never take her for a naïve mug, especially bearing in mind her involvement in another fraud, which Phillip is using to blackmail her with.
• The other appealing aspect was the potential romance between Louise and undercover policeman Crawford Hill (Toby Stephens), as he is faced with the divided loyalties of nabbing Phillip but in doing so risk having to arrest Louise who by the end of the episode has become fully incriminated in the scam.
• Episode one was dialogue-heavy with baffling dalliances towards an Indian businessman who might be in charge of the scam, and efforts by a distant relative and Phillip to set everything up for him. Anyhow, with all that nonsense out the way there might be a few exciting chapters in the remaining two episodes and the characters spouting all this dull verbiage will quickly be killed off.
What was bad about it?
• We weren’t keen on Louise’s offer to “ask [Crawford] up” but for her daughter after he had helped her escape Phillip’s clutches, as this carelessly casts her as one of those Hollywood film non-entities who reward a butch hero for saving them from the jaws of the local hoods with a quick shag in her apartment, reducing her to little more than a celluloid prostitute.
• We rapidly lose any sympathy for characters who dance to Girls Aloud and Calvin Harris, dismissing them, in a TV drama sense, as cannon fodder to hopefully be shot dead by the big villain to illustrate how nasty and merciless he is.
• After a day of enervating TV lectures by smirking rich people who still have two mansions tucked away in Belgravia about the ‘financial crisis’, the protracted and astonishingly dull crime enacted by Phillip and his cronies was soporific. So much exposition was churned out by the various characters we thought we’d strayed into an unending loop of Robert Peston’s self-congratulatory BBC reports. We’re still not exactly sure what the crime entails, but essentially it’s the slightly less rich robbing from the stinking rich.
• The unconvincing apparent suicide of Anna, after she is abandoned by Phillip and the betrayed Louise. Her demise was inevitable as her sub-plot despair couldn’t be resolved in a short three-part drama, and so it was easier to bump her off. Of course, she could have been murdered on Phillip’s orders, but her motives for topping herself were so flimsy that any half-decent copper will smell a rat.
• Laurence Fox seemed utterly bored playing the nasty crook Phillip, and seemed more like a prefect bullying borders at a posh school.