Guilt is a four-episode Masterpiece Theater mini-series, a darkly sinister and acerbic Scottish thriller about two Edinburgh brothers who leave a wedding drunk and eager to get home. We see the elegant lawyer Max (Mark Bonnar of “Shetland”) and his ne’er-do-well younger brother Jake hit an elderly man who steps in front of Max’s car. Jake (Jamie Sives) is driving because Max thinks his brother is less inebriated than he is.
Jake wants to report the accident to the police, but Max is concerned about his professional reputation so they agree to cover up the hit-and-run by dragging the old man back into his house, positioning him to look as if he died of natural causes.
Max is very clever with the cover-up, having knowledge of what constitutes evidentiary material. So, luck appears to be on their side. But then Angie (Ruth Bradley), the only living relative of the old man, shows up and begins to ask questions.
Nervous about the subterfuge, Jake wants to come clean, but Max will have none of it. Reassuring his younger brother that he has always had his best interests at heart, Max convinces Jake that he will be safe with his older brother in control. But there are no secrets kept.
A nosy neighbor, a newly sober detective, and Angie’s change of heart all add to the suspense–can the cover up be sustained? Will the two brothers face their own reckoning as the lies of the past and the crimes of the present come back to haunt and possibly destroy them? For Jake–the man-child whose record shop was bought by his brother to help him out–the guilt over the hit-and-run gets more intense. Jake dreams of a life with Angie, far removed from his brother’s shadow. For Max, guilt is what the evidence reveals. If there is insufficient evidence to convict, then they’re not guilty, whether a crime was committed or not.
Guilt is a four-hour guilty pleasure for those viewers who love a good mystery with lots of subplots. At times–particularly when a new character pops up on screen–the viewer is jostled trying to figure out where he or she belongs in the story. Full of surprises –cannot mention all the characters for that reason–this is quite a chilling portrait of betrayal and brotherly love.
Availability: PBS streaming (Masterpiece Theater)