the nest
BBC/ Studio Lambert/ Mark Mainz

The Nest – an original thriller with unpredictable twists

Dan (Line of Duty’s Martin Compston) and Emily Dockerty (Gentleman Jack’s Sophie Rundle), it seems, have everything. They’re rolling in money and own a drool-inducing house overlooking the water, bought with a fortune built up from nothing. Yet, something is missing from this seemingly idyllic picture: a child of their own. 

After Dan’s sister Hilary (Fiona Bell), who is acting as their surrogate, miscarries, the Dockertys are left with one frozen embryo. Enter Kaya (Mirren Mack – who you may recognise as Florence from Sex Education), a recent care leaver who Emily runs into (quite literally – with her car) one night, and who later discovers the couple’s struggle to conceive. She offers to be their surrogate, and against their better judgement, the Dockertys accept, unaware of quite how troubled Kaya’s background is. ‘

Make no mistake, there are nail-biting, scream-at-the-telly kind of moments aplenty

At first, it appears difficult to tell that The Nest is a thriller. From the first episode, it appears to stay within the realms of a straight-up drama, not exactly Killing Eve territory. Later on, however, it becomes clear that the story is bigger than the three main characters. Woven into the story’s development are tales of murder, blackmail, drugs and even money laundering. Make no mistake, there are nail-biting, scream-at-the-telly kind of moments aplenty. 

Elsewhere, The Nest is a show that is constantly asking questions. How far do you go to get what you want? Is it ever acceptable to pay a surrogate beyond what the law allows for ‘reasonable expenses’? Can you really make something from nothing fairly and squarely? Is redemption ever truly possible?

Our sympathies swing between the two parties as we wonder who we can trust, particularly given all three behave questionably throughout the five part series

At the same time, it provokes the viewer to ask their own questions. The most significant, perhaps, is ‘Who’s exploiting who?’. Although Kaya is legally an adult, we question how ethical it is for the Dockertys to agree to her help when she is both young and reasonable. However, we also question Kaya’s motives behind why she would offer to undertake such a selfless act for two relative strangers. Beyond this, our suspicions deepen when she demands £50,000 to be their surrogate, with the aim of starting a business after the pregnancy. Our sympathies swing between the two parties as we wonder who we can trust, particularly given all three behave questionably throughout the five part series.  

Is this the kind of show that would bait back the younger viewers the BBC has been accused of failing? It’s no teen drama, but it is a show that certainly offers appeal across age groups. I watched it with my mum and fourteen year old sister and we enjoyed it equally. Older viewers may identify with Dan and Emily’s desperation for a child, while younger ones might be more drawn to Kaya’s story. She is written and portrayed with complexity and nuance that fortunately forgoes the stereotypes of disadvantaged young people in favour of something more original. Kaya wants opportunities to make something of herself the world has so far denied her, even if she pursues this dubiously at times. There are parallels between her and Dan that he wishes, at times, to overlook given his reservation towards people of her background. 

There’s an original story, great acting and gorgeous Scottish landscapes, plus plenty of twists to make it as unpredictable as a thriller should be

The BBC is known for making great dramas, and The Nest is no exception to that. There’s an original story, great acting and gorgeous Scottish landscapes, plus plenty of twists to make it as unpredictable as a thriller should be. Now that you’re at home and the TV license people can’t go after you, it’s more than worthwhile going on BBC iPlayer. It’s one to binge watch. 

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