The Five S1:E1 The Return Recap

harlen-coben-the-five cover

I've been interested in The Five since I heard of it; Harlan Coben is one of my favourite authors and when I heard Red Production Co., the company who produced the epic Happy Valley...of COURSE I had to check it oot. It sounds about par for the course for a Harlan Coben-penned oeuvre, people from the past and things and people gone missing, if someone who was thought dead pops up, we'll know for SURE!

We open in the woods, 4 children are teasing a younger boy who is crying and "doesn't want to GO!" and I'm guessing he's Pompadour's little brother, given all the backwards looks. Off the wee dejected lad walks by himself with Gulliver's Travels, to pop up immediately on a Missing Child poster, identified as Jesse Wells, who disappeared July 27, 1995.

I bet Pompadour feels TERRIBLE!

We're in the present now, with a grown Pompadour jogging, also known as Mark Wells (Tom Cullen) and Danny (the SMOKING HOT O-T Fagbenle. I am seriously going to have to watch myself there) dealing with a huge family in the morning, including presumably his dad, who hands him a jar of pee. I'm no expert, but cloudy apple cider is not a good look for urine, better get that checked, Papa! Danny's beautiful wife (no names and IMDb has helpfully (not helpfully) listed everyone alphabetically, and not in order of importance or viewing, so fingers crossed someone says it at me!) hands him a pamphlet about dementia, so that's a snapshot of what's on his plate.

A quick flashback tells us he was in the woods that day in the past, shooing away young Jesse with the others. I bet he feels terrible too!

More of Mark running, this time right by another of the kids in the woods that fateful day (I promise I think of some more interesting words for "in the woods"), and that was spectacular casting, I knew who he was right away based on the younger kiddo. I think his name's Slade, will confirm!

A young child blows bubbles in the yard with a woman, it's all very slow-mo and beautiful and not at all like  ACTUALLY blowing bubbles in the yard, that's all "you SPILLED IT!! I can't make bubbles! MOM!! Why doesn't this make bubbles?? MOM he spilled it AGAIN!!" but that's an accurate representation of a memory; it's all gorgeous and slowed down and everyone's smiling and nobody's shouting and putting anyone in time-out for dumping bubbles over his brother's head. NO I DON'T THINK I COULD GET ANY MORE WORDS IN THAT SINGLE SENTENCE, FANKS VERY MUCH!

And we're done credits and into the show: it's a crime scene at a posh hotel. An unidentified woman has been killed and (the smoking hot) detective Danny is having the details given to him by Ally Caine (Hannah Arterton - Gemma Arterton's daughter??). They haven't any information about the man the dead woman was with, and her phone is missing so they have no way of tracking her by the single useful CCTV shot of her going outside to call someone. That's their sole lead, though, Ally is onnit!

They're in the room now, reviewing the crime scene and the woman was beat to death with a hammer?? The other crime scene tech or detective seems nice enough, but he's very jokey and Danny is NOT.

Mark is done his run and bringing coffee to...a young woman who is just sending another fellow off with a kiss. Er-ooh. He hides, so it can't be something he feels he has a right to shout about. He knocks and she answers with a side look to see if ClearlySpentTheNightGuy has cleared the line of sight.

It's Mark's birthday! Happy birthday, big guy! She lets him come in, that first man was her husband and this woman is skeletal. I mean that in not a concern-trolling way and I won't urge her or anyone else to eat a sandwich, but she is so thin that I have to wonder if it will become a plot point. She's Laura (Honeysuckle Weeks, which is the best name EVER) and he wants to know what Kenton was doing there? Did he spend the night? She's wiping down more than one placemat, sooo. Mark doesn't understand: who cheats on their lover with their husband? She doesn't really answer, but what is there to say? It's not over with her husband, as she said and he thought, and she won't tell him the last few months have meant anything to her either. He's owt.

PossiblySlade walks down a hallway into loud pop music, kicking a vending machine to get breakfast. Awww, some kids NEVER grow up! It's a dance studio filled with young women doing an improbable line dance headed by BritNAY (Sophie La Porta) (whose arse you may smack, but only if you've got the inflection right and I WEEP for the future generation of women) and whom PossiblySlade calls over.

Jokey and Danny are reviewing the Murder Bulletin Board, Danny really doesn't like Jokey (who unfortunately is so generic I can't pick him out just yet, but it might be Karl), preferring not to talk and sideeyeing Jokey's mourning of the "quite hot" victim.

Jokey's got the forensic report with the DNA evidence, so he's of some use. They're late, though, because Jokey was working on his abs, which he's quite enamoured with: "don't wish for it, my friend. Work for it *kisses*." Something in the forensic report makes Danny freak the fcuk out. The world spins.

Julie (Geraldine James) stares out the window, remembering watching Jesse and Mark walk off hand in hand with Mark's friends ahead that fateful day, er-ooooh. That was a "I TRUSTED YOU WITH YOUR BROTHER" memory.

Mark is out celebrating his birthday in a pub with friends, aww, one is Slade, who asks about Laura, who Mark explains by saying she couldn't shift things around. Danny isn't there either, perhaps he couldn't shift things either, suggests Slade?

Speech time! It's Mark's dad Alan (Michael Maloney), who looks exactly like a Bruce Willis / Kevin Costner lovechild, and happy birthday to his little boy! While Julie swallows her tongue in the background, clearly thinking of her OTHER littler boy. Her speech is much graver and talks about Jesse and cries but also ends in Happy Birthday, son.

Danny arrives! And I think that's Eagle-Eye Cherry playing in the background! He has something serious to talk to Mark about, however, eeeeehhh. They've found Jesse's DNA at the crime scene, Jesse's alive!

I SO TOTALLY CALLED THAT. I mean this in the best way, because I am a fan of Harlan Coben's work, but it's almost a guarantee that at some point, someone who was thought to be dead will turn out to be very much alive, OR will actually be dead but someone artificially creating the sense that they are. I don't know why HC is so drawn to that particular theme, but I would urge all of his near and beloved to allow Mr. Coben time to fully assure himself of anyone's passing, with concrete evidence at the time if possible. I'm just throwing that out there. Also, completely as a side note: Harlan Coben writes the best credits going, he is so.damn.funny. I would read a whole book of his credits, just 300 pages of him thanking people hilariously. As you were!

Mark is freaking out with Slade and Danny under an overpass; are they saying Jesse's a murderer?? Danny doesn't know, nobody knows! Slade reminds him that the important part is that possible-murderer Jesse is maybe alive, like he always wanted! But he can't tell his parents yet, Danny is strictly speaking off the record and he could be canned for sharing sensitive information in the middle of an investigation. Oh, and someone else needs to be apprised of the situation; someone there that day...dun dun DUN...someone named Pru.

Danny's asks his dad about Jesse while spooning food into Papa's mouth.  Danny is a legacy, his dad was a copper too, and he worked on Jesse's case. Ah from what I can tell in the half-second flashback, Danny's dad was abusive towards his mother, how does that go when you've got to take care of a parent you love / hate? One that blows raspberries at you when you ask about cases from the past?

I looked at the kitchen. I'm sorry

Mark is showing the newspaper with Jesse's murderer's confession to his dad, who doesn't want to see it, he doesn't want to talk about it, and also, disguy has been sending him letters from prison. Mark, you don't pick around the edges of something like that! You either tell them everything or wait and tell them everything! You don't bring up the most painful thing possible just to get a bit of information on the side, you pollock!

It wasn't a pub last night, it was Alan's restaurant and he's working and he doesn't want to talk any more about it! Just as he didn't want to talk about it with Mark's mother, which is why they aren't together.

Oh my bad, there were two different detectives so far (I told you they were generic!); Jokey from the crime scene, and Jokey from the office. Jokey from the crime scene is Ken Howells (Tom Brittney) and Jokey with the report is PossiblyKarl (Martin McCreadie. THIS IS FUN!!). They're both meatheads, though, preferring to work on their physiques rather than rechecking the DNA report.

Slade's found Pru on Facebook, of course, where old friends wait to be lurked upon. Mark's query as to why she moved back without telling them leading to the best line so far "If we're going to start unraveling the mysteries of female logic, we're going to need stronger drinks" *motioning server over*.

We also find out that our Mark is a high-powered solicitor, which means lawyer here in Canada and shyster in the US, right? Apparently Pru (Sarah Solemani) and Mark were a thing, and it's fraught (I'm guessing everything is fraught with our Mark), but he gives the go-ahead for a meet, which Slade has already arranged for the following day.

The boys arrive at Pru's massive house, lots of hugs and she was the woman swinging around in a circle blowing bubbles earlier. They haven't all been together for 16 years and it's a bit stilted. They have snackies and discuss the shocking news, she's quite estranged from them, being back in England for two years but not letting them know.

They catch up a bit, she has a little girl and Danny has three, which is at least one too many (and isn't THAT the truth - three makes everything awkward, but I wouldn't change it for anything, I can never sort out which one I'd like to send back) but she doesn't know exactly why she's not been in touch. And now we get a real-time information session I can use! YAY!! Slade is running a shelter, that's why the dance moves were... and Pru's a private doctor who offers to help out at Slade's work.

Flashbacks to 1995 are waking and keeping Mark up. He wants to visit Jesse's confessed murderer. He calls Danny to have that facilitated; who protests, but eventually helps.

Look, I get it, it's trippy, but having a character space out in slow-mo every 4 minutes is a bit much, okay?

Mark's got his meet with the confessed killer Jakob Marosi (and holee shite, it's Boris the Blade from Snatch!!!!! Otherwise known as Rade Serbedzija), who gives an extremely unconvincing overview of killing Jesse. I mean. Put a little effort in, Jakob, Mark came all this way to see you! He looks as though he's making things up as he goes, but he did murder four other boys, so you can see why they'd accept it. Jakob doubles down with a detailed, fabricated description of Jesse's death, I mean. I get it, prison must be exhaustively boring for a murderer, especially one who prefers to prey on the underage, so he's amusing himself, but why is Mark even entertaining this guy? Jakob does manage to get in a few digs about Jesse crying, any idea why he was doing that, Mark? Hmm? I don't know how this will go. Boris the Blade is a fabulous character actor, I'd like to see his role last longer.

Back at headquarters, DI Liam Townsend (Barnaby Kay - that sounds like a place, not a name, doesn't it?) is going over the sensitive nature of the DNA evidence with the rest of the detectives, then hands the floor to Danny. They're still trying to identify the woman, but they think she may have been a prostitute, given her clothing (oh come ON) and the location (my bad, that looked like a posh hotel from the outside!), which gives them a few new lines of inquiry. Like drugs, says Mickey (Michael Peavoy) with all his inside knowledge of hookering. He also asks Danny if he knew Jesse, but Danny insists it won't affect his treatment of the case. That's very odd, I get all my information about crime handling from TV shows, and they invariably would say that he has a major conflict of interest here. TV is learning.

Mark is jogging again, then slowing down to walk and he's seeing Jesse and possibly-grown Jesse everywhere. More loud-noised slow-mo spacing out, yaaaayyy.

He's got to tell his mother. Off he rushes to her house, to find his dad in his ginch. Let that be a lesson to all of you starting relationships with recently separated or divorced partners; there is sometimes bedcreep. 23 years is a long time. Mark wanted to tell them both, anyway, so here goes. His dad is furious, it's a MISTAKE, but Julie doesn't go on too much about how right she was. Harrison makes to leave, stopped by Julie begging him not to leave her again when she needs him the most. It's a poignant moment.

Mark is caught primping by Pru, heading into to chat about her kiddo over dinner. That seems unwise. They cover his relationship with Laura as well and I just love the phrase "early days" that he uses to describe their situation. No other term quite captures the feeling of "eeehhh, I dunno yet, but I like smashing my fuzzy bits up against her fuzzy bits" so well. There's all sorts of probing questions and intonations during this convo, so for sure they were an item of great note at one time. When someone pronounces St-eeeewww-ERT with four syllables, something is up. SteeeewwwwwERT is a financial tiger, apparently, going after what he wants, the inference being that Mark was not. So.much.eye.fencing.

Huh. Slade calls and it WAS just Mark and Pru meant to be at that supper. It did seem like a fairly small table for four. Mark doesn't even tell Slade he's out with Pru and that doesn't make sense either! Slade knows, though, asking for Mark to put Pru on the phone. Slade lets Pru know what Mark's been off investigating on his own, and that Laura's dumped him, in between helping young Stevie at the shelter find his inner Beckham. She promises to help.

A woman runs down the street while a man in a car watches, calling someone to say "I think I've got one for you" and follows her slowly in his car. The woman is terrified and in a great deal of pain, shaking, as the man approaches her. Oh goodness, it's Slade the man called and he's there to help. Slade phones Mark, he needs Pru, who comes to help.

She can clearly see that this woman has been attacked, though, and she doesn't want to do things off the books; the police have to know! Slade protests. That's how they lose the trust of these kids! And I guess she's younger than I originally thought. They compromise by calling Danny, who's still at work. Mark's going to send Danny a photo of a girl, could he theoretically check MisPer databases? She has a distinctive birthmark on her face. Danny ehh fine whatever blah blah.

He's scrolling through the MisPer database when Mickey wanders in to tell him no news on the cell phone of their dead person, we've firmly established Danny as the Joe Friday of the force, he just wants to facts, nothing extraneous, MICKEY and none of your extry words either. I bet I would drive this particular character MAD.

Danny's found the young woman. Her name is Gemma Morgan, but she's been missing for 5 years. 5 years?? They're back at the shelter again, Mark's taking a run at Gemma using his past experience with losing Jesse as a basis for rapport, but I don't know if I'd go too far down the "It's hard on those left behind" road to a 5 YEAR VICTIM, although I'm sure she's overcome with what OTHERS have had to deal with. You know that thing where you can only see things through your own narrow lens? Mark may have myopia.

She doesn't answer any questions, just crying silently until she finally comes out with "It's not just me. I'm not the only one." Mark and Slade brainstorm in the hall, leaving Gemma alone and THIS WOULD BE AN EXCELLENT TIME TO BRING IN THE POLICE, LADS! Seeing as there are more and all!! Seeing as a shelter isn't exactly the most safe place!

BritNAY wanders in, she must be intake, or a liason. Slade sends her in to see Gemma, but she stops stock still as soon as she sees Gemma, who has her eyes down and doesn't see her. She freaks and runs away, Slade yelling after.

Oh man. Danny and his wife are making out on the sofa and I need a moment. Whew. Smokin hot. His mobile rings and he fights it for a bit, then gives in and answers. They've found the dead woman's name and phone, and best of all, Annie Green's phone is still on so they can track it!

Several police cars convene and I hate to think how long that took to coordinate. Portenous music while they chase the wily phone-holder through the streets; Danny even climbs up on an RV in two steps and WOW. Sorry, sorry. He gets the kid, though, shouting "Are you Jesse? Are you Jesse??" over and over, but gets no answer, just smirks.

Slade enters a den of iniquity cautiously with latex gloves on; red lights and poor furniture everywhere, taking a deep breath and knocking firmly on a door. I think it's Laura's ex-husband Kenton who opens it, although I didn't get much of a look at him in the first place, and Slade shoots him in the head. WHUT??????? I mean. WHUT?????

Now, it could also have been the man who called him to tell him he has one of his, meaning Gemma, but then why would he involve Mark at that point if he had a group of kids stashed away? And surely Gemma wouldn't have said anything in front of him if he was one of the bad guys. So that leaves Kenton, but Slade must be a stone cold killer anyway. What are the odds we have TWO stone cold killers on the loose?

For the overall, it was an interesting show, compelling and moving along well. Style-wise, I could do without quite so many slow-mo loud flashbacks, but I guess we are still in Establishing and I assume that will taper off a bit, RIGHT? The characters are all good, still outlines at this point, of course, but I like what I've seen thus far. Check you shortly with the second episode, you lot!