Image: BBC/Expectation/Happy Tramp North

‘Guilt’: series two, episode three

We’re in the latter half of Guilt’s second series now – plot threads are starting to be wrapped up, but the tension is still rising and the narrative continues to be as unexpected as ever. As Max fights to regain control, control is looking more like an illusion than ever before.

Max and Erin’s relationship grows more complicated after the night they spent together, as they figure out how they’re going to exact their revenge on Roy. Max must also face increasing pressure for his police handler Jackie (Sandy McDade), and his former cellmate Teddy (Greg McHugh), both of whom suspect he knows a lot more than he’s letting on. Kenny and Yvonne’s (Rochelle Neil) relationship struggles as the police officer is drawn further into the investigation, and Roy must juggle his growing suspicions of Max with his attempts to hold onto his daughter and to convince Sandy to sell the church. Fortunately, he has an ally to hand: his wife Maggie (Phyllis Logan).

The stakes are rising, and it feels like we’re heading towards some major fireworks in the final episode

The plot really moves forward this week. The stakes are rising, and it feels like we’re heading towards some major fireworks in the final episode. For Max, his quest for revenge is now no longer optional, and it may not be enough to save him even if he succeeds. Surrounded by Teddy, Roy and Jackie, and their threats on his life and freedom, it looks as though Max has dug himself into a hole from which he’s unlikely to escape. If you watched Guilt series one, you’ll be familiar with how brilliant Bonnar is at portraying a man losing control but, whereas he was fighting to defend his position in the first series, he’s got little to lose now. He’s dangerous, he’s desperate – and that’s a terrifying combination.

It’s a bad episode for Kenny – his relationship with Max and his digging into the cases see him turned down by Yvonne (but only on the orders of Jackie). They share some a sweet chemistry, and Emun Elliot is so good, it feels like a genuine gut punch to the viewer when he receives a dismissive phone call from her. Whereas he was a chaotic element in series one, Kenny has really been the most human character in the show this time round, and the multiple betrayals he suffers hurt because he’s so radically different.

Of course, Guilt is more than a two-man show, and this episode gives all of our characters a chance to shine. Roy and Maggie are mobilising, working together to steady up their positions. Logan hasn’t had that much to do in the first two episodes, so it’s brilliant to see her really get involved with the narrative this time round. There are hints that Jackie may be more than she appears, and Sandy continues to loom large over the narrative. We’re at the point in the show where the characters and their lives are coming together more: there’s a brilliantly-shot sequence in the middle of the episode that really conveys that, telling us a lot through direction and editing alone.

And as for that final cliff-hanger, well, I was genuinely shocked

There are some really good scenes in this episode. A terrifying confrontation between Teddy and Kenny, followed closely by an equally terrifying confrontation between Teddy and Max – never have descriptions of Papillon been more terrifying. Roy faces Sandy again, and we finally learn the truth of their relation, but the former criminal’s affable menace is not enough to win the priest around. So he deploys Maggie, and Logan shines as a character who may be even more ruthless than the Roy we’ve come to know. And as for that final cliff-hanger, well, I was genuinely shocked. It’s a wonderful example of the show pulling something entirely sensible, but completely unexpected, out of its hat. Forsyth knows how to surprise us. It puts us in a very interesting place for the next episode, that’s for sure.

The rather complex plot is starting to tie up some of its loose ends, but Guilt can still pull the rug from under the viewer, and it sets up an interesting final episode in the process. We know things can’t end well – I still don’t know how, and I don’t know who’s still going to be standing at the end, but I’m looking forward to finding out.

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