Marcella: Series 1 Review Part 2

The concluding part of Daniel Theophanous' review of ITV Thriller Marcella. You can read his opening thoughts on the series here...

The first season of detective drama thriller Marcella proves to be great TV watching; from one disturbing scene to the next, with shocking cliff hangers at the end of each episode; audiences were captivated throughout. Anna Friel as Marcella is raw, edgy and highly emotional, possibly giving ITV, some much needed credibility with this authentic and sophisticated production. The success of the series is attributed to the intense and genuine script and its mesmerising lead Marcella. Friel is incredibly convincing as the erratic, flawed, natural, heart-on-sleeve Marcella, you are with her her 100% despite her frequent discrepancies.

At the beginning of the series, we see Marcella in the throws of depression, saddened and beaten by life; by the loss of her child, the end of her marriage or perhaps the cruelty of her husband. As a murder case is opened and she is called in for her detective expertise, the work provides for her some much needed distraction. Although, as the number of murders increase, you are concerned if Marcella is able to cope with all the violence and brutality that comes part-of-the-parcel. However, the story then finds a twist where Marcella along with her soon to be ex-husband Jason, played by Nicholas Pinnock, find themselves involved in one of the murders, that of Grace Gibson. The Gibson’ are a property tycoons and Grace along with her mother, ran the business. Jason worked as lawyer for the Gibson’s and at the same time was having an affair with Grace. Marcella has a blackout of Grace’s murder unable to recall any details and she is plagued by the idea of what she may have been involved with. She can remember where Grace’s body was left but not the actual killing.

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As the series unfolds, all evidence points to the newly released convicted murderer Peter Cullen, who Marcella put away 10 years ago. The police investigators are convinced with the similarities of the two cases, however Marcella thinks otherwise and of course she is then proved right. It is baffling as throughout the series Marcella’s hunches prove to be correct and yet every single time there is opposition from her supervisors and colleagues to any of her leads. A rather clever trick by the writers, as portraying Marcella as a victim makes the viewer more emotionally involved, more sympathetic, stirring up feelings of anger at the injustice of it all.

Director Hans Rosenfeldt, is an expert at building the tension until the viewer feels distinctly uncomfortable but is still intrigued of the outcome. He has Marcella on constant tender hooks, as she spends half the series, investigating murders and simultaneously covering her own tracks. Rosenfeldt keeps the serial killer, always one step ahead; his murders become more and more brutal, more elaborate and of course more disturbing. In one scene a young girl is murdered, but Marcella and fellow detectives arrive at the scene just minutes after her killing. It is truly heart-breaking to watch as Marcella discovers the body in the boot of the car, plastic bag over her head; she is wailing in agony with the dead girl in her arms, possibly reminding her of her own tragic loss.

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As the series draws to an end, with more murders being committed, kidnaps, more leads and arrests, the big win is actually Marcella and her self realisation and empowerment. By the end you see a Marcella that is relaxed, reflective, with a new found independence, slowly regaining control of her life. As the murderer is revealed in a familiar face in the final scenes, we are still left unclear of Marcella’s involvement with the death of Grace Gibson, possibly alluding to a second season. Hopefully in the second season, Marcella doesn’t change and she remains as desperate, emotional and as endearing, all of which made season one so watchable.

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