Image: Alex Telfer/BBC Scotland

‘Guilt’: series two, episode four

We’re at the end, but how are events going to wrap up, and who’s going to come out on top? We’re at the series finale of Guilt, and it delivers beautifully on the many stories and character beats it has set up in the previous three instalments. If we’re not seeing any more Guilt, then it certainly goes out on a high.

Max’s plans are shaken up by the sudden reappearance of his brother Jake (Jamie Sives), who has been brought back from America as part of the Lynchs’ insurance policy against the lawyer. As Roy and Maggie face some of the darkest secrets from their pasts, they and Max start to circle each other in a game of survival that only one side can win, and in which all of our characters have a stake. Erin discovers a shocking family secret that leaves her conflicted, and Sandy and Roy have a final confrontation that threatens to change everything. In his endgame, Max may be able to offer Erin salvation and a way out, even as one for himself slips through his fingers.

The series was beautifully shot, well-acted and the writing was on-point

Oh, that cliff-hanger, and the surprise return of Jake as Max’s weakness. There’s a very effective call-back to the end of the first series, with Maggie expounding on the ways that family can be a weakness, but it’s really an opportunity to see more of that wonderful chemistry between Bonnar and Sives. Sadly, it only lasts for one scene before the two are separated, but it’s brilliant – there are darkly comic moments, as Jake explains his rationale for returning, and real drama. Guilt’s first series thrived on this brotherly dynamic – somehow, naturally, writer Neil Forsyth has brought that back a little bit in this final episode (my only comment is I’m not entirely convinced by a retrospective decision made by Jake).

Really, though, the climax of Guilt is centred on who is going to win the battle that has been raging all series – the question of whether Max will get his revenge, or whether Roy and Maggie will come out on top once more. I’m not going to ruin that here (seriously, go watch it for yourself), but I will say that this clash leads to a number of incredible scenes once again. Max confronts Jackie over destroying Roy, and the potential for Adrian’s death (which feels like a long time ago) to take him out. It’s not enough, so he confronts Sandy, and learns the most painful secret of all. Erin and Roy share a genuinely touching father-daughter moment (of all the characters in this series, I never thought that Stuart Bowman’s Roy would be the one to get me), and there’s one last glimpse of the terrifying Teddy.

The world of Guilt is hardly one that would feel natural all tied up with a ribbon

Guilt’s plot this time round has been far more complex, and Forsyth largely wraps it up effectively, even pulling out big surprises to tie up some of the loose ends. In a number of cases, we aren’t provided with definitive answers – the fate of one major character is left to our own imaginations (although, in all fairness, it’s very heavily implied) – but I think that works well here. We’ve been made to think throughout this show and the endings demand that even further – the world of Guilt is hardly one that would feel natural all tied up with a ribbon. One thing I would have appreciated, though, is a little more clarity about Jackie’s role in events – there’s a reference to her motivation for pursuing Roy Lynch that, as far as I can work out, is not linked to anything we’ve seen.

I didn’t see what could be done with a second series of Guilt but, having enjoyed these past four episodes immensely, I’m really glad we got another dive into this world. Forsyth brought Leith to life once again, showcasing a different side to Max (through the wonderful acting of Bonnar, charismatic and oily in equal measure) and Kenny, and expanding on the life of the affably dodgy Roy in the process. The series was beautifully shot, well-acted and the writing was on-point, and I’m struggling to list even minor quibbles that really hampered my enjoyment. The BBC didn’t bury the series in the dead of the schedule like last time, and it’s available on iPlayer, so there’s really no excuse not to check it out – it’s unlike any other show on TV, and I highly recommend it.

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