After that lovely baking break we’re back to our gritty Scottish drama Deadwater Fell which someone called Broadchurch-y maybe because they’d seen neither show. I mean, you may as well call Good Omens Broadchurch-like if we’re just slapping that label on all David Tennant shows. Either way, we’re rolling after the break into our visually stunning and emotionally disturbing case in Deadwater Fell S1:E1.2.
We open with a mostly naked youth drunkenly stumbling down the middle of the road in his ginch, images of the aftermath of the fire filtering through as we watch our grieving widower Dr. Tom Kendrick (David Tennant whom I adore) being picked up at the hospital by friends Jess Milner (Cush Jumbo) and Steve Campbell (Matthew McNulty).
Tom just lost his three tiny daughters to a horrific house fire, along with wife Kate (Anne Madeley) who may or may not have set the fire for several reasons, one being postpartum depression. Tom is understandably seeking comfort, but his former lover Jess dissuades him, they’re in public, for crying out loud.
Plus, you wouldn’t want to give anyone ideas about motive.
Tom stares at the flowers tied to his gate in memory of his children, then explains how he first met his wife to detectives DC Gemma Darlington (Laurie Brett whom we JUST met in other Scottish show The Nest. I swear, there are only 14 Scottish actors and they work in a group. I love them all) and DCI Spencer Collins (Gordon Brown whom I swear was in Guilt, another Scottish show…he looks just like the neighbour on disability…one sec…huh, sorry, no, but it was a good guess. Sorry I turned into my mum just then).
During the painful interview (tell us about the children?), we find out the significance of the car crash we saw Kate and Jess had. Jess, Steve, Kate, Tom and their families had a lovely day at the beach, marred by an angry Kate lashing out at her mother-in-law (she gets a pass from me), drinking too much and driving off with her children and Jess, only to flip it on a difficult curve while distracted.
DCI Collins thinks this could have been a motive for Kate burning the house down and murdering her children and entire family, but. But Kate herself was drugged, as were the children. Would you drug yourself and say, not your husband? If you were planning a murder-suicide? Also, perhaps Tom was drugged as well, they didn’t show that clearly. As it was, he was dragged out of the fire by Steve and almost died.
Tom struggles through a timeline of the night of the fire, Jess is there as his support person and surely they both know that their affair will come to light? Nobody gets up to shenanigans in this day and age without leaving an electronic trail, even if you live right next to each other. Someone will have been texting inappropriate selfies from the bathroom.
DCI Collins probes gently; so there was nothing that sparked an argument? Tom probably should not have looked like he swallowed an apple and goggled at Jess just then, nor should she have tried on that limpid stare. Cops are all about parsing limpid stares.
Tom demurs when asked if he wants to see the girls, oh no, you have to. If you don’t see the body, you carry them around with you forever, expecting to see them. At least that’s what I’ve heard, do what you feel is best, Tom.
Tom scrubs his fingernails raw and cleans his things with vigor, he has to look his best for her. Which is what he answers when Jess asks if Kate had said anything at the end.
It would be pretty rotten to think that your partner murdered themselves and all your children because she found out you were sleeping with her best friend.
It’s a very quiet funereal for Kate, only a handful of people are in attendance including a distraught young woman alone at the back of the church. I feel the worst for Kate’s mum and dad, who have not only lost their daughter and granddaughters but under a cloud of suspicion that has to affect their grieving.
Jess introduces herself to the crying woman, she’s Sacha (Seline Hizli) from teacher training, Jess has heard the name before. Neither one could imagine that Kate had this horrible ability in her, the sound of Kate’s mum crying and being comforted by Tom draws their attention. “Puts on a good show, doesn’t he?” are Sacha’s parting words, what does she mean? Did Kate talk to Sacha about her unhappiness with Tom?
Tom places his hand on Jess’s in the car on the way to the ceremony for the children, she remembers another time when more than their fingers were interlocked and pulls away.
It’s a very different scene at the children’s funereal, the whole town is there, including Tom’s mum Carol Kendrick (Maureen Beattie), his partner Dr. Mark Denham-Johnson (Stuart Bowman), the detectives and Jess’s partner Steve’s ex-wife Sandra McKay (Lisa McGrillis) with an unknown bloke.
A truly excruciating eulogy follows, then three rosebushes are planted and thank the gods: that part is over.
Detective Gemma watches videos stored on Tom’s phone, including a bizarre one where he’s taped the girls then just sat there staring at the phone without saying anything.
The funereal afterparty is held at the school, Jess keeping a close eye on Tom while circulating with food. Tom’s partner Mark is also the dad of the dude in his underwear we met walking down the road, Dylan Denham-Johnson (Lewis Gribben). Dylan’s mum is Lynn (Julie Miller) and has so far not been a factor.
Jess overhears Sandra talking about “as a mother” the deaths are even worse and decides to take that personally, using the opportunity to take a shot at the age of Sandra’s new partner Luke (Jack Greeenlees). 27 is legal, Jess, tsk tsk.
Principal Simon Wells (Jamie Guthrie) moodily grieves alone, he was very close (how close?) to Kate and he can’t believe she didn’t even get a mention at her own children’s funereal. I mean, you can understand that it she did kill them, but that just shows how much Tom is guiding the narrative of his wife being the deliberate perpetrator of this horrible crime. Right from when he first woke up in the hospital.
Jess takes some air outside to find that a plaque for Kate has already been vandalized.
Jess is implanted with three embryos in her second round of In-vitro fertilization, remembering the sadness and sense of loss when the first round didn’t take. She went to Kate for comfort, where will she go if unsuccessful this time?
Kate didn’t have long to sit out in the sun, drinking wine and smoking weed with Jess anyway, she was called inside after not-long by her mother-in-law, the children needed her. Kate reminded Jess to enjoy what she has now.
Dylan, the wanderer in underwear, has been brought into the police station to get dressed and sober up, but he’s about to be needed for more important information. He was partying the night of the fire in the woods, one of the wee Kendrick girls had pine bits under her feet found in autopsy.
Jess spots Principal Simon being interviewed by the police, then it’s her turn. As Kate’s best friend, I’m surprised they haven’t spoken to her sooner.
Do grown women still have best friends?
We didn’t know that Kate had recently been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, hm.
Anyway, Jess doesn’t share with the police the marital strife she witnessed because of course she doesn’t, but Kate was clearly very unhappy and possibly even in love with Jess.
Jess finds a donation from Sasha (spelled both ways, going with this one because it’s on the screen) on the family GoFundMe with a message about Kate finding peace and messages her about a call.
Her partner Steve is investigating the pine bits under the girl’s feet, walking through the woods for quite some time before coming across a pink bike left by a stream. What does that mean?
Jess and Sasha meet at a pub, Kate and Sasha hadn’t been in touch in years. While I’m priming myself for a torrid lesbian affair gone horribly straight, it’s something more connected to the present. Specifically that Tom seduced Sasha one night when she was upset, which we learn is how Tom and Jess ended up sleeping together after she was upset about the in-vitro not taking. Interestingly, Sasha thinks that it’s because he didn’t want Kate to have any friends.
There was this weird move during the sex that I noted, they highlight it again. While Tom is behind her and she is up against the window, he places his hand firmly on her head, pushing it against the glass. That seemed unusual.
Jess goes home and in the middle of Steve complaining yet again about his ex-wife (he’s far too connected, who cares if her new partner is 27 and a fitness trainer? How is that detrimental to the children? They could probably use some exercise), she blurts out that she slept with Tom.
A difficult discussion follows, ending with Jess pleading for help: should she tell the police? In his anger, he shares the not-for-public information that the police think it was Tom who killed his family and stalks away.
We watch Tom watch himself silently in videos again, then Steve drives himself to a bar to drink alone before coming home late at night.
Jess ministers aid to one of her stepchildren the next morning, ignoring a call from Tom. Steve is short with her, asking if she waited until the embryos were in before telling him. He’s not going to heal any time soon.
Jess makes a statement to the police, including the domineering nature of the sex with Tom, which is just lending itself to a rough sex defense. At least Detective Gemma is kind.
That’s two families gone now.
Ahhhh, I’d gotten the wrong end of the stick about that bike Steve found by the water. That’s reprobate Dylan’s bike. Steve goes to ask him when exactly he lost it. Dylan immediately clams up, understanding the nature of that question so Steve offers him a cigarette and reminds him he’s not being officially interviewed. Dylan, whose dad works closely with Tom, is scared.
Tom’s enlisted his mother in getting hold of Jess, she’ll need to pick him up today as she’d promised. There’s very little talking, she seems afraid of him which may be because of her inside knowledge of the police investigation. She asks if he told the police about their assignation, he asks why he would do that?? Has she? She lies unconvincingly.
Back at the house, she tends to him and his mother with discomfort that grows when a naked Tom right out of the shower comes in close proximity. She presses him again about whether or not Kate said something at the end, she must have, mustn’t she?
Dylan is in interview with the Glasgow detectives, he tells them of seeing Emily running scared through the woods that night before being scooped up by her father Tom.
As soon as Steve hears there’s a witness willing to testify that he saw Tom, he calls Jess, who hasn’t yet left Tom’s house. She makes a run for the door, to be stopped in the best thriller fashion by Tom himself, asking for hugs and murmuring that his dead wife wasn’t in her right mind. Of course he follows her outside like this, a Scottish Terminator in a woolly jumper:
We watch Tom await his doom.
And are shown what Dylan actually saw: Emily being scooped up by her MOTHER. So it was Kate who murdered everyone and Tom was just a shitty serial best friend humper and bad husband. Why would Dylan lie? Did he love Kate? Hate Tom? Was it actually both Kate AND Tom? So many questions, two more installments to find out. Until then!