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.
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.
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.