Why The Victim should be your next box set
James R | On 05, Aug 2019
“He killed my son. I’m not the criminal.” That’s the sound of justice being torn in multiple directions in BBC One’s compelling, conflicting drama The Victim.
Kelly Macdonald, who is enjoying something of golden run on the BBC between this and Giri/Haji, is wonderful as Anna, the mother of a boy who was killed 15 years ago at the age of just nine. We catch up with her in the present, as she is accused of exposing the identity of the man convicted of that murder – and conspiring to have him killed in return.
The series opens on day one of a criminal trial in Edinburgh’s High Court. On the other side of legal proceedings is family man Craig (Jack Harkness), who is attacked after being identified as this child murderer. But has Anna got the right man? Should he keep his head down or try to prove his innocence? Who exactly is the victim here? A grieving mother or the potential victim of mistaken identity?
Picking apart these thorny questions is veteran detective DI Grover, played by John Hannah. Gruff, determined and unafraid to draw a line between right and wrong, he has no problem in putting Anna’s past behind her and focusing on the question at hand: someone’s attempt to interfere with the law. Moving on from what’s happened, though, is easier said than done, and screenwriter Rob Williams (The Man in the High Castle) takes us back through the events leading up to the trial.
Williams deliberately plays with our expectations and our sympathies, and the cast respond accordingly, sinking their teeth into nuanced, complex characters who are grappling with the moral maze of justice and revenge. A twisting exploration of grief and rehabilitation, The Victim tugs your heartstrings back and forth over four well-paced hours, building to a hugely moving finale that cathartically goes through Anna’s son’s murder in gut-wrenching detail. With powerful support from Cal MacAninch as Anna’s ex-husband and John Scougall as Tom, Craig’s best friend, it soon becomes clear that there are no easy answers to be found here, that perceptions can be wrong and the desire for retribution costly but, despite that, compassion and reconciliation still have a part to play. The result is criminally entertaining watch, one that will have your attention arrested from beginning to end.
I Am Not Your Negro is available on BBC iPlayer until April 2021