The Accident S1:E02 Cheap As Chips Recap

Welcome back to The Accident where the sublime (if subdued) Sarah Lancashire leads a cast dealing with eleventy hundred serious issues, all at once. Join me for the second episode from Jack Thorne, writer of Kiri, as we explore three hundred of the issues up close. Rolling S1:E02 after the break!

It's six days past the accident that rocked the small Welsh village of Glyngolau, murdering several of its inhabitants and leaving more questions that answers. Polly Bevan (Sarah Lancashire) has been leading us through step by step, dealing with all manner of things at the same time (domestic violence, parental alienation, etc etc).

There are at least two things I missed last time that they were kind enough to highlight for me in the What Happened Last time reel:

  • Harriet Paulsen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) the head of the construction company parked outside the Bevan household, staring (arguably) longingly at Councillor Iwan Bevan (Mark Lewis Jones). I had already assumed something personal was going on, the fact that she knows where he lives AND feels comfortable parking outside his house at night is telling. As is Iwan's wife Polly saying this to Harriet:

  • Also, the explosion is currently being blamed on gas, but according to Harriet, the gas isn't on. AND even if the gas was somehow on without anyone knowing, what was the ignition source?

Let's find out what we can tonight!

We open with a forlorn Debbie Kethin (Genevieve Barr) at the locked gates of the doomed construction site; her husband Alan Kethin (Kai Owen) was in charge and is already being assumed responsible for what happened. I think he died in the explosion as well, but I'm not certain. She sees a vision of Alan on the other side of the bars, but it's not real.

*I don't know if I should have mentioned that Genevieve Barr is hearing impaired or not, because I'm not positive that her character is also deaf. Okay, wait, I see a hearing aid!

Also at the gate is Angela Griffiths (Joanna Scanlan), busily taking notes of everything that's happening on the site. Her daughter Mia was one of the kids killed after sneaking onto the site just before the explosion. Angela figures the police are planning to blame it on the kids and erm, they probably were the source of ignition, yes? Angela will make sure that "someone takes responsibility for it all."

Ahhh Debbie's husband did die, which we find out when Angela matter of factly asks her how much money she'll get for his 'fatal accident'.

Polly and Iwan have a complicated relationship. We know it's loving and connected but also that it involves domestic violence. We saw Iwan beat Polly last time while angry and frustrated and then watched her comfort him. Complicated.

Polly is in a good mood today, she's happy Iwan's decided to come see their daughter Leona (Jade Croot) in the hospital. Leona was sort of the ringleader and is the lone survivor, I'm guessing all that and usual teenage hormones are going to make this an extremely trying time for her.

Iwan doesn't have any stomach for the news, which is already drawing comparisons to the Grenfell fire. Well. I mean, I'm not an expert, but didn't people actually live in the Grenfell tower? This was a construction site, locked and off limits to people who unfortunately managed to find a way inside.

A man chats Polly up in the hospital, I don't know if calling someone "the mother" is your best opening, but that's what he went with.

Ahh Philip Walters (Adrian Scarborough from Phoebe Waller-Bridge's "Crashing"!) must be a reporter, he wants to know about what Polly shouted at Harriet. Polly's here visiting her miraculously alive and badly hurt daughter, she doesn't need this garbage. He says he's not a journalist, but we don't find out what he is as we're off with Polly, Iwan and Dr. Whittaker (Phaldut Sharma).

Dr. Whittaker warns them that Leona might have sustained brain damage and brings up the police, who are champing at the bit to interview Leona. Iwan holds Leona's hand but there's something hinky there too. He keeps saying she won't want to see him. I know my mind is like a sink, but why wouldn't a daughter want to see her dad? I know she's a teenager, but.

Construction company Senior Vice President Harriet Paulsen walks into her office to find it full of lawyers, hai George Byrne (Silas Carson) and Laura (Ruth Madely!! From Years and Years!), let's review the tape!

Everyone looks at the CCTV footage of the kids running through the construction site; it wasn't natural gas that caused the explosion but rather a bunch of oxygen and acetylene canisters stored together unsafely. So what was the ignition source? We're still not sure. But we do have three issues to chew on:

  1. Security clearly sucked
  2. The canisters stacked together was an HSE violation
  3. The building should not have come down like a house of sticks, why did it? Was it built "cheap as chips" as Polly alleged?

There is a cool vignette where we're in Debbie's silent world watching Polly run up behind her, then they're off to the meeting that's happening right now with all the mourning families.

Angela leads the discussion, she suggests that all the funerals be held together for maximum impact, but that's sort of mad. Debbie agrees but Greta Collinson (Eiry Thoman who we saw lots last time but said nary a word that required capturing) wants to bury her child without any kind of impact, she prefers to keep her grief private and handled in the order of the Welsh Presbyterian church.

Angela calls on Polly to help, who points out that they're looking at multiple faiths so several officiants will be required. Angela is not dealing very well.

Alone, Harriet continues to review the CCTV footage, she spots something but we don't find out what it is yet because her assistant/lover Tim Das (Nabhaan Rizwan) interrupts with a smoking gun. He's found an official complaint filed from their HSE department against Alan Kethin (aka Debbie's husband), the foreman on site. It specifically says to not stack the canisters together and I feel very badly for Debbie right about now.

Tim wants to leak this right away, but Harriet thinks that'll smell bad. He pleads with her, the company is planning to use her as a fall guy, this could help her keep her job. She refuses to leak the information but I wouldn't be surprised if he did it anyway. He's in love with her.

We're back at the hospital where DS Anne Hendricks (an almost unrecognisable Kimberley Nixon, whom I remember from Ordinary Lies) waits patiently for Polly to allow her an interview with Leona. Finally assenting, Polly stands back while Anne eases into questioning Leona.

Leona does alright with the first few questions (how did you get onto the site, why didja, etc) but stalls out at "what were you doing near the equipment?" remembering lighting a cigarette with her best mate Mia. Polly calls the interview done.

*I will say that Leona looks almost criminally young here. We were introduced to her first as a naked young woman with a naked suitor, then her shenanigans with drugs and breaking into site made her seem older than her years. You can see that she is truly a child, which is what we need to remember about her the most. I'm listening to a bunch of podcasts about Jeffrey Epstein, also relevant in how we see/treat teenage girls.

Polly follows DS Hendricks outside, will they be arresting Leona? She hounds and hounds the DS until chided to go back and look after her daughter.

Debbie's world of silence is interrupted by the crowd of reporters at her house clamouring for a statement, looks like that HSE complaint got leaked after all. This will definitely affect how she and her dead husband are viewed in the village, I can't see them sharing their grief space with her any more and I hurt for her. She runs away from the awful reporters shoving newspapers in her face.

*It's okay, I know it's not real. I still feel bad

Harriet confronts Tim about the leak; what did he do? He says "this is necessary." This is why you should not get involved with people you work with, he's in love with her and she's...not, but using it, sort of, to some extent. It probably won't help anyway, the man in charge (guessing) Frank Stanfield (Peter Sullivan) tells her that even going to the site was a problem. She's definitely been tapped as the sacrificial lamb.

Debbie feels the eyes of Glyngolau on her, that won't likely end any time soon. At the funeral home she realises the extent; her husband will no longer be buried with the other victims of the explosion. They've decided to bury the children separately. Debbie is furious.

She physically attacks Angela Griffiths on the street; is her dead husband not good enough to be buried with their children?? Angela throws her off, she is more than her child! And Debbie ought to be ashamed of Alan.

Debbie goes to Polly next to plead her case, Alan was a good man and he wouldn't have done what they say!

Nobody can sleep, clear from Harriet's posh manse to Debbie's cluttered cottage. Harriet gives in and does a "u up?" call.

Iwan's similarly inclined, he comes home drunk demanding that Polly take her clothes off as he wants to give her a massage.

*I'm giving fair warning, it was difficult enough to watch our Sarah be pummeled by Mr. Meathooks here, I'm not sure I'll be able to handle a scene of sexual violence. I've gotten less able to handle that as I age.

Okay, whew, he knocks himself out undressing, woooo! Best case scenario. And then she gets him an ice pack, Jaysus wept, lady. Let the man sleep it off face down on the floor. They cuddle and chitchat, we see the intimacy of long years married.

Until he starts to verbally abuse her, then screams in her face. I.

*I'm having a rough day for family violence but Imma try to plow through.

She does know him, though. She knows he was worried he'd be blamed for the accident and it was the relief that drove him to drink with the whole town. But there's something else he hasn't said, she wants to know what it is. Some more drunken blather and she helps undo his shoes and deftly sidesteps a Whose Daddy is Best competition.

Debbie sleeps while Polly rings her doorbell over and over ah feck, she tried to kill herself. She patches herself up to admit Polly, who invites herself in for a cuppa. They put on the radio and clean up Debbie's extremely messy house, Polly singing and dancing to Echo Beach adorably.

She and Angela had a whole dance routine and everything back in high school; she brings that up because she feels badly about how Angela is treating Debbie. Angela's always been a bit of a bully, with Polly standing by and not saying anything. She doesn't want to blame Debbie, she's there in a show of support.

Debbie isn't any good at lipreading Polly's mumbles directed at the table, she needs to look at Debbie for them to have this conversation. Polly is very clear: Debbie knows about Iwan, Polly's husband, right? Everyone knows what he's like. And now Debbie knows what her husband was like, but it's not about that any more. It's about them now. And Debbie should come to the funeral, Polly will be there to back her up, instead of Angela this time.

Harriet wakes up to find Tim under the covers trying to make up for disappointing her, she stops him (like, as if) but the doorbell rings and they're done anyway. It's Bertie (Verity Blythe), Harriet's grown daughter who would like to move into her mum's swank pad. Tim is hiding in the bedroom.

Bertie manages a little bit of concern for her mum's situation. Apparently Harriet's ex is asking if she's to blame and Bertie didn't even stick up for her! I'm guessing the point there is that this accident is affecting all parts of Harriet's life.

Polly is having a crisps break in the car when she spots her daughter's savior leaving the hospital. Martin Harris (Shaun Parks) still has an arm in a sling but has been released back into the wild. Wait. Are they FLIRTING? They bantered earlier and oh. He's homeless and was squatting in the construction site, so Polly offers him a room. Payment already came in the form of him saving her daughter's life.

Personally, I'm just glad there will be another person in the house for when Iwan goes off. Perhaps it will constrain him somewhat.

Now this is unusual, Harriet has chosen to meet DS Anne Hendricks alone without legal representation. I don't know if her boss or all those lawyers are going to like that. Hendricks doesn't have any easy questions either, starting with a query about "Value Engineering" which sounds like "building something cheap as chips." The steel was not up to specification, perhaps why it came down so easily.

Harriet is caught off guard and asks for more time to review the tensile strength findings, she did ask for a 30% reduction in costs from the steel manufacturer which DS Hendricks seems to think is hard evidence of Harriet playing fast and loose with people's lives.

Portraying Harriet and her unnamed company as heartless, ruthless cost-cutters with little regard for human life is a bit expected, innit?

I mean, you can ask for whatever discount you like but if you have a contract, which all suppliers would have, you have to pay what you negotiated. And if a supplier provided lower-quality steel to save money and secure the contract at a lower price: that's on them. Any Quality Assurance program (which Harriet's company undoubtedly has) would also have a regular audit schedule that would identify any irregularities like sub-standard steel as part of their due diligence. They're both at fault, done!

Hmm, the ginger Philip Walters from the hospital has now shown up at Polly's house, even though she's pretty sure she told him to f**k off. He isn't a reporter, but rather a lawyer almost literally chasing ambulances.

He has a definite type of case that he's interested in, he reels off a list of incidents with varying but horrific death counts, none of which ended up in any convictions. Polly and the families will be fighting people with very deep pockets, at the very least maybe they could use him for information. He does seem very knowledgeable.

He leaves with one more comment of note; the children were alive after the explosion.

And that's the story there. But, erm, how would he know that and she wouldn't?

A terrible and tragic mass funeral for the lost children of Glyngolau, Polly holds Debbie up front with her as they march through town to a funeral dirge. And we're out. Until next time, everyone, take care and maybe watch some puppies climb stairs or something. That's what I'm off to do. Cheers.