Guilt S1:E01 Alas Poor Walter Recap

Hi! I'm TTM and I will be recapping BBC Two's new(ish) show Guilt for your reading pleasure. Guilt is technically from BBC Scotland, but shows up as BBC Two, so we'll try both! This show t'was recommended by one of my long-time readers (whaddup E??) and since they also steered me at Fleabag and several other glorious shows, I know this is gonna be AWESOME. Without further ado, let's roll into Guilt S1:E01!

Hold on!! How did I not know this show stars Mark Bonnar? I love him! His work in Unforgotten and Apple Tree Yard is just superb.

We open late at night with two men driving down mostly empty roads. Max McCall (Mark Bonnar) looks as relaxed as only a passenger drinking alcohol can, while his brother Jake McCall (Jamie Sives) appears to be crawling out of his skin with nerves. Perhaps a wee nip would settle him, help a brother out, Max!

Oh I'm joking, stop!

We understand that they are opposites (one deficit in soul, one overloaded, you guess who is which. Hint: BroWithSoul has not been swigging from a champagne bottle) just as they drive over something lumpy.

That chunky bit isn't the important part, they get much more excited about the person they next run over. Well, into, but you get what I mean. The brothers screaming makes it slightly...slapstick?

They argue about a path forward, with Jake refusing to leave as Max would like and instead checking on the person they just bonked. The person is dead, which leaves Jake freaking out and Max miraculously clear headed.

You know, not a nice person, still, but fully coherent.

He lays out the situation for Jake in the car, they're both in a lot of trouble. Jake is high and not insured to drive Max's car, which means they're both criminally liable, especially Max, who will be disbarred.

I don't know if suggesting your brother would be "relentlessly interfered with" in prison was exactly the right lever to pull, Max.

Jake's not listening anyway, he's busy rooting through the dead man's wallet; it seems Walter (Joe Donnelly) lives on this street. Unfortunately, we already saw that people have lights on along this street, Max thinks they should book the eff oot right skippy. Instead Jake pops out again and starts dragging the body off the road, as you do.

A quick verbal tussle and the brothers carry poor departed Walter into the woods. Jake rings the nearest doorbell to no answer, so Max doubles down on his criminal career and enters the house. Nobody else is at Walter's house, might as well bring him in and make the death look like an accident! (The accident part is pure conjecture on my part, he may be planning to stage a murder.)

*Scotland has access to CSI and NCIS and all those other forensic evidence shows, right?

Max finds an important letter sitting out, the night-walker formerly known as Walter was about to die anyway. Jake is devastated that they "killed a sentient being" which is...oddly specific, but Max is rejuvenated by the information that poor sod Walter was already a goner.

It was a kindness, "we just made it quick!" Which is sort of like shouting "YOU'RE WELCOME" at his dead body.

Jake reluctantly agrees and they leave, Jake returning to retrieve his jacket as apparently he's at least heard of CSI. Then Max drives away, apparently ruthlessly sober.

It's the next morning and Max's partner Claire McCall (Siân Brooke from Doctor Foster!!) would like a chat about the wedding, please. WHO argues with the bride at a wedding about a cash bar??

He wishes he'd driven home with her, with all his being. Jake calls, he hasn't slept (cut to Max looking fresh as an expensive daisy). Jake would like to speak in person.

*Max's house looks just like a posh version of the set in Unforgotten. It threw me right off track for a minute!

Max comes to Jake's records shop to discuss a path forward.

Even this argument doesn't help settle Jake's conscience, but they leave it there for now. Jake spends a sleepless few days checking obituaries while Max drinks his face off and "works" or whatever lawyers do for $450/billable hour.

A full week later, Jake is relieved to see Walter's name in the Obits, meaning he's not only been found, he's been buried and it's all done! Max's very encouraged by this news, Jake less but agrees they're done for now.


A phone call right then as Max is leaving stops everyone in their tracks. It seems Jake left his wallet at poor Walter's last resting place.

The solicitor assumes Jake was there flogging vinyl records (Jake has a music shoppe and Walter had a lot of albums), he'll give him the wallet at the wake, okay?

Now they have to go to the wake! Or do they?

Max is taking this all very personally.

Max has decided that instead of going to the wake and opening themselves up to more speculation, he's going to force Jake to go back into Walter's house to grab his wallet.

Let's review that decision.

  1. Jake's wallet has been documented by a legal professional who has spoken with Jake himself
  2. Doubtless the wallet has been removed from the residence as the lawyer indicated he would be bringing said wallet to the wake

What is WRONG with Max? What kind of lawyer is he, anyway?

*I've watched a movie this week with another lawyer who chose to run instead of following the law, what is going on?? That was Queen and Slim and I highly recommend.

OOOOOOPS my bad, Max is sending Jake into the actual wake, I just didn't see a large bunch of cars about so I assumed this was a bad attempt at a break-in.

*That was so much fun that I'm just going to leave all that in. I'm sorry if we haven't met before, it's not always this bad.

Jake wanders around the wake, carefully navigating around all the elderly people until he runs into a lovely woman around his age. Angie Curtis (Ruth Bradley) isn't just fetching and carrying food about, she knows from records and their storage as Jake notices, even in his agitated mood. She leaves him with a plate of sandwiches to distribute as Max loses his mind waiting in the car.

Max storms inside, finding an apologetic Jake handing round watercress fingers, I think Max might pop a vein in his head.

He's going to murder Jake like super soon.

Max is happy to meet Angie, who represents all of Walter's remaining family. He was her uncle and literally everything is on her to pack up and dispose of. Max calms down a little when he hears this, and directs Jake to stick with Angie, she's the only one who can request to have Walter's body re-examined.

That seems like a SUPER stupid reason to have Jake hang out with Angie, but she's adorable so I'm going to call it a Plot Device via Romance.

The best part of the chat with the brothers and Angie is when they asked for the name of the solicitor and she said "something..Scottish?" while they tried not to shout at her.

By unspoken decision, Jake is the last person at the house at the end of the wake, finding his wallet as Angie suggests a drink. Hellz yeah he needs a drink!

She'd like to hear about her uncle (who I am now horribly and completely convinced is some kind of serial killer or child abuser) but he's there for the records. They're getting on like a house on fire, even navigating the taut world of ranking vinyl. David Bowie's best album?

Then the dancing, then kissing, then waking up the next morning without much on. Jake anyway, Angie's already made breakfast, wooo!

He hasn't slept for a week, so he knocked right out and she gathered foodstuffs. She does the sort of common explanation, which is: I don't feel bad about what happened (sure) but I don't usually sleep with people immediately, please don't think I'm a hewer.

He made the wake a lot more fun for her, awww, if only he wasn't the reason for the wake. Well. The timing of it, anyway. She leaves and he is left alone in the detritus of the man he killed one week ago. Walter's lozenges, Walter's hair sticking out of his hairbrush, he's in Walter's bed!

You know they didn't change the sheets first.

Jake heads home and we meet Max's wife Claire again. She's in a spin class and not the least bit in the zone (I don't spin, so I don't know what that means either). She does make a new friend, hai Tina Hicks (Moyo Akandé)!

Angie isn't having as much fun at the solicitor's office as she did at the wake, event though Thomas McKinnon (Michael Nardone - Frisky from The Night Manager! AND he was on Rose and Maloney with our Sarah Lancashire! He was very handsome and dangerous) does a wonderful Sean Connery impersonation.

She starts asking questions about the medical records; perhaps because she's from Chicago and has a working knowledge of forensic television shows. Why are there bruises on Walter's legs if he died peacefully from cancer in front of the telly?

She asks the same thing of Jake, who does his best to distract her with music trivia but she will not be dissuaded.

*Are either of them old enough to be this pretentious about music?

He suggests they visit Max, who's a great all-around guy. Cut to Max firing someone really rudely. I feel like Mark Bonnar had a blast with his role.

Jake calls Max as a headsup, she's gone a wee bit Columbo. At Max's swank office he dodges calls and offers to talk to the responding officers, off the booooks.

*These Scottish accents are marvelous, I only snap out of the rhythm when the American speaks.

Max's wife Claire also has questions, why is he hanging out with his brother so much all of a sudden? She doesn't buy any of his answers and goes as far as to confront him in the driveway as he's trying to leave.

Max is always angry. That must be exhausting. Max yells all the time. Max is not a very nice person and I can't figure out why his partner stays with him as she obviously thinks very little of him.

He races off and delivers the news to Angie and Jake, she appears to take his word for it, anyway. He's his most smarmy self and they're almost done when...the doorbell buzzes.


It's Claire, she's stalked max to Walter's house and the fact that an attractive woman answered the door is probably not boding well for Max's marriage.

Claire comes in profanity a-blazing, to be completely derailed by everyone being so nice out of character.

*Funny bit with Max calling Angie Jake's girlfriend and at Angie's surprise, Jake says "In for a penny." HAHAHAHA

Sure they should all go out for supper that night, Angie's leaving in the morning! Claire and Angie get on like a house on fire, Claire thinks Jake should ask Angie to stay!

"I've seen your back catalogue, mate, frankly this is a bit of a miracle."

All the inside-fighting in a marriage is on full display, good lord, why do people that hate each other stay married? There are no kids for them to martyr themselves over.

Max drags Jake up to the bar. What is he thinking encouraging this talk of Angie staying? Jake's wondering if Angie is his soul butterfly (apparently they just get one and they don't always meet, which is awful to be sure), maybe them driving into Walter while high af was meant to be! Max listens in open-mouthed horror.

Max reminds Jake of the very real consequences of Angie sticking around and finding out what happened to her uncle; it's 11 years in prison for Jake on a good day in a super screamy prison.

Of course extended time with Angie leads to more and more complications, she's no dummy and picks up on a discrepancy right away. Jake said Max knew Walter from playing horns (the instrument, not some kind of dinosaur role play scenario) together, but Claire tells Angie that Max is tone deaf.

Oh and one more thing, how did they miss the blinking video camera on the neighbour's house? Now this is magic, they cook up a genius plan involving a broken gnome and a request for access to the videotape. Turns out the camera is a dummy, however, they about pee themselves with relief.

But is it? They've aroused the curiosity of the neighbour, who does have some sort of camera set up, what an unusual double bluff for a suburban man of a particular age.

Max is seconds away from flitting off to play golf when Angie calls the brothers back into the house. She's gotten Walter's clothing back from the undertakers and there are all these weird patterns on the legs...

Max is again quick to step in and offer help, he has an investigator who can pop over before her flight. Oh no rush, Angie's pushed her return a few days, something doesn't feel right.

Max tries to cover his anger with yet another forced smile but Jake looks as though he's found his butterfly. He's walking an emotional tightrope, Max!

Guess who the investigator is that Max offers? The one he just fired for alcoholism and being unprofessional. Hai Kenny Burns (Emun Elliott)! Max would like you to stop talking about your personal problems and start pretending to badly investigate Walter's murder, please!

Angie has to know Max is f***ing with her now, right?

She is slightly confused but still hanging in there. She even meets Claire and Tina for spin class, time to enter the ZOOOONE.

Not much happens there but again Claire drops a small thread for Angie to pull, talking about how Jake and Max don't usually see each other this much. Max contradicts this unknowingly the next time he sees Angie, so her antennae are buzzing.

Max is over to see Jake to yell at him for getting Walter's records from Angie, of which Jake was completely unaware. He thinks Jake is putting them at risk, but really it's all Max's wife Claire that's doing all the spilling.

The brothers have a complicated history, with Max having bought Jake's shop for him because...Jake couldn't play music any more because of Max? I don't know, but that ends the argument and Jake storms away, leaving Max to stare up at a neighbour's window.

That was the window we saw on the night of, lit but with curtains closed. They're open now and a woman is looking out of them. Did she see anything that night?

Something else entirely is happening across town. Tina and Claire pop out of spin class, Tina inviting Claire for breakfast. I was wondering if this was an expression of romantic interest on Tina's part because there was something... and then it turns out that Tina is a lesbian and they're going to be friends. Claire jokes around but it looks as though this encounter has shaken her a little.

Angie and Jake listen to records, she asks him about his musical past and then wants to talk turkey.

She's sussed that Max is up to no good, she hasn't connected that with Jake yet and I guess that's good. I don't know what happened to the rest of Max and Jake's family, but there are only the two of them left.

Something odd, as Jake is going through old photographs of Walter, he finds one of Walter's niece, which should be Angie. But the girl is very, very freckled to go with her red hair, Angie only sports one of those features.

I do know they can do things to reduce freckles greatly, even if I don't understand why you'd want to (I am one giant freckle) but can you take them ALL away? Maybe that's not what I was supposed to notice, we'll find out soon!

Across town, Claire receives a text from Tina and smiles, sending Max's ears up. Then Claire lies about it, perhaps there will be shenanigans between the lovely Tina and neglected Claire.

A miraculously cleaned-up detective Kenny has shown up on Angie's doorstep, he's had an epiphany and is ready to solve this mystery!  You won't believe it, but Max is angry about this too!

He's even happier when Kenny pulls some metallic car paint off Walter's pants, and that Angie is sticking around for a long time to take care of everything.

Angie presses Max, is it cool? Sure, sure. Jake's happy, anyway! So is Kenny, he thinks this case could be a real life changer!

Max drives away, past the woman he saw in the window. Weird surf music plays as he reverses and confronts her in the yard.

Max is actually too shocked to be mad, he numbly walks back to his car where Jake asks him if everything is okay. Sure it is, and we're out.

Well. This was not what I expected and if I'm honest: grew a lot less fun as time went on. I'm not sure how much Max-Angry-Then-Walking-A-Tightrope-Then-Angry-Again I can take. It was quite charming and funny in the beginning, less so by the end. The side plot with Claire and Tina is mystifying and disconnected from the main plot, but I'm always up for shoehorning lesbians in wherever possible. Just don't murder them, please!

I'm hoping the entire series won't be Max trying to hold things together in a tight grip to watch it come to pieces in his hands, bit by bit, but there are some quite good elements in the story as well. Why did Jake give up music to sit alone in a shop? I'm wondering about that picture of Walter's niece when she was young, I didn't think it looked much like Angie. Is this another complicated double bluff? Americans flying in from Chicago all willy nilly looking to take over an elderly Scottish man's filthy lucre? That could be why she's attached herself so firmly to Jake, if it's not the other way around. She's sniffing around the way they're trying to, that would be awesome.

Why didn't the neighbour tell the police if she saw Jake hit Walter in the street then noisily carry him inside Walter's own house? That's a bit weird, innit? As is the neighbour with dummy AND real cameras set up, what did he see?

Until next time! Cheers