UK TV review: Innocent: Season 2
James R | On 23, May 2021
Where do you draw the line between retribution and reconciliation? That was the question asked by ITV’s Innocent, a crime drama that followed a man (Lee Ingleby) who was wrongfully jailed for the murder of his wife. Season 2 introduces us to a whole new cast of characters but sticks with the same idea – an innocent person returning to their life after an incorrect conviction. This time, though, the balance of exploring rejection and reunion with a whodunnit crime mystery leans more towards the latter, which makes it a well acted but familiar watch.
Katherine Kelly stars as Sally, a schoolteacher who was charged with killing a student, Matty, after evidence emerged of the two having a secret affair. After years in prison, a new piece of evidence threw that verdict out the window, and we join her as she re-enters civilisation, determined to claim back everything taken from her. Kelly is superb as the wronged woman, going into a job interview with the fiery conviction of someone who refuses to be tarnished by the scandal surrounding her – and feels entitled to getting her normal life back.
There are moving moments between her and her mother, as we realise that the latter is living with dementia and can’t remember her – a poignant touch that robs Sally of final moments of lucidity and connection with her mum. But the focus is more on her ex-husband, Sam (Jamie Bamber), who’s now engaged to family friend Karen (Priyanga Burford). Whether intentional or not, though, these two pairings never really convince, which means that we have little reason to root for Sally’s campaign to get her man back or cheer on Karen, who is naturally suspicious of Sally’s intentions towards Sam.
And so writer Chris Lang places more emphasis on solving the truth behind who did kill Matty. That focus means the series is filled with red herrings and possible suspects, such as Anna Stamp (Ellie Rawnsley), the pupil who spied Sally and Matty’s romantic fling. And, with four episodes to fill, a lot of the drama feels like the police repeatedly declaring that someone else has something to hide that needs to be unearthed immediately.
Fortunately, the police investigation is headed by Shaun Dooley as DI Mike Braithwaite. Dooley, fresh from It’s a Sin, is always worth watching and his turn here is beautifully nuanced, as his copy struggles to come to terms with the death of his wife and child in an accident – a sense of loss that binds him to Sally. Their scenes together bring a rich depth to the season, but it’s telling that this is missing elsewhere, as the plot seems more geared towards narrative twists and turns than character-driven complexities. When a cast is this good, though, you can’t accuse Innocent of being anything less than entertaining.
Innocent: Season 2 is available on ITV Hub. Season 1 and 2 are available on BritBox, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.