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Collateral, Episode 1 review: Carey Mulligan's new crime drama doesn't shy away from politics

The Independent logo The Independent 12/02/2018 Clarisse Loughrey

a close up of a person © Provided by The Independent Death is the ultimate silence. It’s into this quieting that Collateral’s opening scenes delve. From the chaos of London life – the frenetic energy of the takeaway pizza shop, the endless maze of streets – to a sudden pause. All with the sound of a gunshot. The cruel, sudden death of a pizza delivery driver, Abdullah Asif (Sam Otto), without any seeming reason or sense.

As the first episode of the BBC’s new crime drama, written by Sir David Hare, shows, chaos provides the perfect hiding place for secrets; this is a show that flits between perspectives, between lives, to examine what becomes lost within the roar of the city. We cut quickly from the last person to speak to Abdullah, the frustrated mother who ordered the pizza (Billie Piper), to the woman cowering in the street (Kae Alexander), the only direct witness to the crime.

The world pauses for Abdullah’s death, but only momentarily: even the pizza place keeps running, as its manager Laurie (Hayley Squires) explains: “I’ve got targets to make”. The chaos continues.

Admittedly, Collateral still falls back on some of the typical constructs of the crime drama. The killer, for example, is largely cliché: dressed in black, with rubber gloves and a plastic sheet. The evidence is neatly discarded of and “job done” is texted to some mysterious overlord. Yet, beyond these stylisations, Collateral actually seems refreshingly unobsessed with the ins-and-outs of the whodunit.

Its concerns are more with the ever-unfurling web of connections which exist around the crime. With the forces that drive people together and drive them apart; individuals whose lives have been driven underground or hidden behind closed doors. And the series makes this true on multiple levels.

Collateral looks, on the one hand, to the private affairs concealed within London’s luxurious facades. David Mars MP, played by John Simm, is a man more dedicated to his work than to love, yet still juggling the responsibilities of his past relationships. On the other side of the city’s gaping economic chasm, are the refugees driven to seek shelter wherever they may find it, who must live their every moment in fear: “Escape war, make your way to England, and start your new life in a garage”.

Certainly, Collateral doesn’t shy away from the political implications at hand, with this first episode breaching the current, divisive narrative of immigration within the political sphere. A narrative which so dominates, which has so twisted any sense of actual truth, that even left-leaning politicians end up bowing to the hysteria of “open borders”. It’s a storm only further brewed by endless media sensation, as a reporter is seen rushing to the scene of the crime bristling with excitement, already declaring Abdullah’s death to be a “Muslim killing”.

Within this chaos there is a calm, moral centre in the form of Carey Mulligan’s DI Kip Glaspie. A breath of fresh air, in many a way, unconcerned with the bureaucracy of MI5, or whatever spin the newspapers crave. She is a woman who seeks only answers. Glaspie also, so far, seems to be that rare investigator unburdened by personal demons, who doesn’t have some haunted past about to strike her out the shadows and put everything in jeopardy. She is clear-headed, focused, and dedicated to her job.

Indeed, she is the compassionate soul trying to make sense of all the noise around her. Collateral doesn’t need any extra drama from Glaspie, there is plenty enough to uncover here.

Collateral airs at 9pm on Mondays on BBC2.

Gallery: The 15 most typecast TV actors ever… ranked! (Provider: Digital Spy)

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