It comes to me as no surprise that Linda La Plante’s Trail & retribution is a quality series. After all, this is the woman who created Prime Suspect. This collection of six episodes of Trail & Retribution feature David Haymer as Detective Chief Superintendent Mike Walker, Victoria Smurfit as Detective Inspector Roisin Conner, and Dorian Lough as Detective Sergeant David Satchell [until 2006, it appeared as an annual two-part mystery. Now it usually airs five two part stories].
The six eps compose three mysteries: The Lovers, Sins of the Father and Closure. The Lovers concerns the disappearance of newlywed Mark Harrington after he goes to fetch coffee for himself and his bride, Susan [Miriam Heard]. Sins of the Father is about the investigation of the death of honors student Emily Harrogate [Carey Mulligan] – and how it reveals the problems of a “happy family.” Closure finds the team dealing with a serial killer – one of whose murders was investigated by a much younger DI Mike Walker.
The thing about these two-hour-plus mysteries is that they show both the police and the civilians in all their flawed glory. In The Lovers, Susan Harrington’s lack of faith in the police blinds her to possible danger; Sins of the Father mirrors the main mystery with a situation in DCS Walker’s family, and in closure, DI Conner [think Prime Suspect’s Jane Tennison thirty years younger] brings in an American profiler in a tale where suspects could range from an over-eager Detective Sergeant, to a narcoleptic teen, to a broken down former partner of Walker’s.
One of the best things about Trial & Retribution – at least in this collection – is that there is no guarantee that the good guys [and therefore justice] will prevail. As in real life, there are things that go wrong in spite of the best intentions. All three of the series leads have moments of brilliance and stupidity – something that makes them more relatable, if not more successful.
Although not included in Closure, another feature of the series is that the accused go through the trial process – and the story doesn’t end with the verdict! Instead, we get to see the reactions of the defendants, whether guilty or innocent.
The series is shot with a palette that mostly relies on cool/cold colors. There are lots of blues and greens – and even in sunnier scenes, they seem to shot with filters that give even bright days a hard feeling. The use of split screens is also a series trademark. Thus, we get juxtapositions of the investigation with the actual events; interrogations with every face onscreen, where we can see everyone’s reactions.
As expected, the series is very well written. La Plante knows how to draw characters and set up situations. She’s even better at combining character and plot. Although less well known over here, Trial & Retribution pretty much matches Prime Suspect in quality.
Features: an excellent forty-six minute Behind the Scenes featurette and a Linda La Plante Bio.
Grade: Trial & Retribution – Set Three – A
Grade: Features – C+
Final Grade: A-