“Unforgotten” (Season 4)–And Unforgettable

Season 4 of    Unforgotten   has been breaking records with over 7.5 million viewers tuning in every week for the latest developments in the cold case drama (PBS Masterpiece Theater premier July 11,  2021).  It is, in this reviewer’s opinion, the most powerful and cleverly written season of the critically acclaimed cold case crime drama.  As in the past three seasons, all suspects are interconnected though not revealed in the beginning.  Red herrings abound and it is very difficult to sort out motive, means, and opportunity in this complex police procedural. Obvious isn’t always right and in this season nothing is remotely obvious.

We see season four open with a physically and mentally exhausted DCI Cassie Stuart (the extraordinary Nicola Walker) having taken medical leave from being the chief detective in London, due to a harrowing cold case in season three involving a serial killer of teenage girls.  Now she struggles with her existing mental illness while having to take charge of yet another cold case, aided by DC Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar). 

Matthew Walsh, a young twenty-something whose headless and handless corpse, frozen inside a small compact apartment-sized refrigerator, has been discovered in a junkyard, when the refrigerator door swings open and the contents dumped on top of heaps of junk. 

Unforgotten season 4

After some ingenious tracking of ownership of the refrigerator, a candy wrapper, and odd tattoo, Cassie and Sunny identify four police officers from the same academy– Fiona Grayson, Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Baildon, Dean Barton, and Ram Sidhu– who had a relationship going back thirty years with the now-deceased refrigerator owner.  Cassie and Sunny delve deeply into the rookie police officers’ training program and their lives since putting on the badge. Two of the five are currently police officers and all have reason to deny a relationship with Walsh.

Above all else, Cassie is a brilliant sleuth.  She is a master at understanding the connection between good intentions on one hand and bad actions on the other.  Despite that clear-headed detective’s acumen, will the darkest corners of Cassie’s psyche overwhelm her?  She is frequently at the mercy of her emotional tides, regretting her impulsive responses.

One of the more original character developments in Unforgotten, throughout the series, is the portrayal of Cassie and Sunny as  a man and woman who really love and respect each other in their professional roles, supporting each other, emotionally and personally, when the need arises without  surly competitive repartee or romantic undertones. They are a male-female team who have a strong bond as friends and colleagues without any hidden agenda.

Bravo!

Note:  It is highly recommended to watch season three before watching season four, to understand why DCI Cassie Stuart needs medical leave. For my June 11, 2018 review of seasons 1 and 2, go to https://unhealedwound.com/2018/06/unforgotten-the-power-to-recall/

Availability:  On PBS Masterpiece Theater and for streaming on PBS Passport.

“Unforgotten”–The Power to Recall

 

Unforgotten PBS series

This British crime drama (PBS Masterpiece Mystery), comprised of three episodes in two seasons, focuses on one stone-cold case per season. Each involves a murder at least three decades old. The detective team– Cassie Stuart (the wonderful Nicola Walker of “Last Tango in Halifax” and Sunny Khan (the perfectly cast Sanjeev Bhaskar of “Indian Summers”)–solve each cold case in a delicate balancing of tension with hints of romance.

In Season 1 of Unforgotten the detectives discover the 1976 remains of a teenage boy found in the sub-basement of an apartment complex. No one but the two detectives seems to care or expect closure to the case, presuming any persons of interest would be untraceable or dead.

Unforgotten, like all good mysteries, creates encrusted layers of complex clues, red herrings, and surprises. There is no last-minute perpetrator inserted to fool the viewer. Nor is the culprit easy to guess in the first few minutes of watching. Characters are inserted in such a way that the viewer wonders where the interrelated scenes are going– a priest who helps the homeless, an older man losing patience with his wife’s descent into dementia, a woman tutoring students for their exams, and a man who obsesses over political power. There’s no indication that any of them know each other — or, really, could possibly know each other.

Season 2 of Unforgotten takes the drama up a notch. The detective team investigates another cold case– of a middle-aged man stuffed into a suitcase. His past is sordid. As the two detectives investigate the texts of possible suspects left on the pager of the deceased, secrets and lies are revealed for each of the persons of interest. But, all of them have rock-solid alibis. Questions of what constitutes justice are provocative. The two detectives eventually solve the mystery.

What distinguishes a mystery about a cold case is the stories of older people who have tremendous arcs revealing a complex series of rebirths: their pasts so complicated that who they are in the present is virtually unrecognizable. All middle-aged and old people were once young, with challenges and sex lives they may wish to forget but are not forgotten. In Unforgotten the history of each character– of their secrets and regrets– is the core narrative.  Like all good stories, the characters’ arcs reveal who we were, who we have become, and who we could be. Unforgotten is a stunning melodrama!

Note: The two-season series has now ended, but can be seen on PBS.com. Season 3 of Unforgotten is now in production.