'Criminals Season 2' review: Engaging conversations powered by top-notch performances

Written by George Kay, directed by Jim Field Smith, Criminal is a window into the verbal tussle between hard-boiled investigators and immovable suspects, as one tries to break the other’s resilience

Published: 19th September 2020 10:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th September 2020 10:52 AM   |  A+A-

Criminals Season 2

Criminals Season 2

Express News Service

What is flashy about a police procedural that is set in a single room with a one-way mirror partition? What is showy about a police procedural that is all dialogues, and absolutely zero on-ground action? What is exciting about a police procedural that has cops we know nothing about? Despite such questions, Criminal came out unscathed in Season 1 and the show manages to be a bit more impressive this time around. 

Written by George Kay and directed by Jim Field Smith, Criminal is a window into the verbal tussle between hard-boiled investigators and immovable suspects, as one tries to break the other’s resilience. While these conversations are dripping with tension, and even the most laidback exchange of words has a strong zing to it, the predictability of the format proves to be a distraction. We know that the investigators will crack the case. We know that, come what may, the truth will eventually triumph, and the law will take its rightful course. Even certain detours in the episodes peppered with a few interesting twists don’t amount to much because the end result is the same. It might seem odd that the “good guys always win” formula is being pointed out as a sore point, but an investigative thriller has to be a sine wave of sorts, with the required ups and downs, to hold our interest. 

However, this is not to say that Criminal isn’t intriguing. Just as each case makes the investigators — Natalie Hobbs (Katherine Kelly), Tony Myerscough (Lee Ingleby), Hugo Duffy (Mark Stanley), and Vanessa Warren (Rochenda Sandall) — question their own sense of morality and ethics, we too are forced to do the same.

When an influential person, a known misogynist, is accused of rape, and that person believes he is falsely accused, whom do you believe? When a narrative boils down to a ‘he said, she said’, who do you side with? When you get evidence that supports the accused’s innocence, do you still side with the accuser? While the questions about cancel culture and trolls are interesting, the timing could have been more circumspect. But such questions don’t stop coming in the four cases explored this season, leaving us with a lot to ponder. If one episode talks about pedophilia and vigilantism, another talks about crimes of passion, and yet another deals with a cold-blooded killer.

Moving past the moral dilemmas while watching Criminal, and having conflicting opinions about the set-up as a whole, the series primarily acts as a showreel of sorts for the principal characters. Kit Harrington as Alex, the person accused of rape, brings out a performance that almost makes us forget that he was Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. Similarly, Kunal Nayyar, who played the genial and goofy Rajesh Koothrapalli in The Big Bang Theory, turns up as the brooding and scary Sandeep Singh. It shows the acting calibre of such actors, who are often typecast due to appearing in certain iconic roles. That is why, despite it not exactly being the most flashy, showy or exciting police procedural out there, Criminal still holds our interest. It makes us think a lot... about the characters, and more importantly, about us.

Cast: Katherine Kelly, Lee Ingleby, Kit Harrington, Kunal Nayyar
Director: Jim Field Smith
Streaming on:Netflix


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp