Witness the mental conflict that goes down between detectives and suspects within the confines of an interview suite in this thrilling psychological drama. This four-part season features four suspects, four crimes and a race to determine whether they’re guilty or not.
Criminal: UK continues on the path it set with its fascinating first season; exploring some chilling cases, dealing with compelling characters and emphasising the claustrophobic nature of these detective interviews. Every episode of this season is as incredible and engaging as the last, with each one delivering an unpredictable story that twists and turns as you work with the detectives to guess whether the individuals are to blame. The way the personality of the suspect drives the tone and pace of an episode is orchestrated brilliantly as it makes each episode feel wholly unique despite the fact that you never move from the same three rooms. The episodes run at a perfect length and the narratives confined within them are perfectly set out to bring closure by the end. It feels like there is less of a through-line character narrative with the detectives in this season but it does feel like the relationships have developed, which is enough for four episodes.
This season really interestingly deals directly with some highly debated social and moral issues that are very real and relevant in today’s world. It’s very harrowing seeing some of these very real issues represented on screen in a way that is so grounded that this could be a true crime documentary. It’s brave and really helps with making the story even more thrilling and engaging than it already is. I won’t speak too much about the specifics of the episodes but they are filled with thrilling back and forth dialogue that plays really well into the mental warfare that goes down in these rooms.
When it comes to the performances, let’s begin with the suspects, all of whom are mindblowingly incredible. Sophie Okonedo, Kit Harrington, Sharon Horgan and Kunal Nayyar are absolutely mesmerising in their respective episodes. Sophie kicks off the season with a deeply emotional narrative that she pulls off incredibly well. It’s “all eyes on her” as her character straddles this line where she could break down emotionally at any point. Next up is Kit Harrington who puts in the most stellar performance of the four. He opens his episode with a monologue setting up his entire arc that will have you unable to look away and closes out with a speech that is undeniably riveting. It’s a powerhouse performance that delivers heart-pounding thrills throughout the episode.
Sharon Horgan also delivers an incredible performance as the most lively of the four suspects. Her episode is all about the communication with the detectives and the verbal arguments being thrown across the room. The back and forth between her and Natalie (Katherine Kelly) is endlessly entertaining and keeps up for much of the episode. Lastly, you have a spectacular performance from Kunal Nayyar who is playing so far against type that he is almost unrecognisable as Rajesh from The Big Bang Theory. This could be a star-turning role for Kunal who is hauntingly captivating in this role.
On the other side of the table you have the detectives played by Katherine Kelly, Lee Ingleby, Rochenda Sandall and Shubham Saraf. Even more than the first season, these performances really come together in a way that makes them feel like a real team. There’s chemistry there that, within four episodes, sells you on the fact that these people spend every day together. This chemistry and teamwork is what makes them formidable in the mental games they play against the suspects, lending themselves to some light entertaining dialogue that breaks up the rest of the rather heavy content.
In the end, Criminal: UK builds on its first season in more ways than just adding an extra episode to the length. It features gripping cases, intriguing suspects and narratives that twist and turn in ways you will never see coming. The joy of solving these mysteries along with the detectives is just one of the many factors that is appealing about this series. I believe that with the level of suspense in each episode and some of the social and moral issues it touches on, this is a must-watch series for any fan of the psychological crime drama genre.