Hi everyone, I am TalksTooMuch or TTM and I will be recapping The Moorside because my pal EB recommended it and plus: Siobhan Finneran. I've been a big fan since I first saw her work in Happy Valley with the sublime Sarah Lancashire and then once again in Unforgiven with Suranne Jones. I understand this is a true story, so I won't do my usual larking about, as in "OH COME ON, THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN!!! Someone get Continuity on the phone!!" because apparently most of it did. Let's roll episode one after the break.
We open in a group therapy session for parents of obstreperous youths; Julie Bushby (Sheridan Smith) is role-playing a fight with her son over stealing her money for marijuana. It keeps ending up in violence; the therapist gives everyone some ideas for strategies that don't end in hitting and I think I speak for all the mothers: PFFFFFTTTTTTTT yes I thought I'd go read in my room after my son just stole my money and is being belligerent.
Julie has all the charisma in the room (and a super thick accent), so she holds the reigns and gets to the important part: if they tell the therapist she's full of bullocks, do they still get their certificates? Karen (Gemma Whelan) would go Julie's way if she thought she could, something about a boxed ear I fink.
The parents are all there because their kids have been reported truant and
TANGENT!! Disregard if you just want to know what happens in the show. Look how intrusive the state is here, and that is EXACTLY what happens in that socio-economic bracket. Are these people on the dole or Welfare? The well-intentioned people who make regulations that dip so deeply into these lives would absolutely lose their shite at being treated in this dehumanizing fashion: drug testing, certificates required after your kids did something, condescending session after session explaining how to make food a certain way that they can't afford anyway. It's an impossible line to cross back over once you've been on the other side, people who've never had to visit a food bank or ask for Welfare would do well to remember how easily and irrevocably circumstances can change. You give money or you do not give money to help people in need, you don't get to shove your speculum wherever you want to account for those dollars. Be what you would want if you found yourself in dire straights: be HUMAN.
Julie and Karen Matthews (ahhhhh now I know where I know her from. She's on Game of Thrones and I HATE her on that show) walk out together, Karen is much shyer than Julie but nobody can say she's not a good mother now: there's a certificate and everything! They run into another woman on the street and we learn that Julie is about to become a grandmother and I thought she was a teenaged mother!
We're listening to a 999 call; Shannon Matthews is 9 and has been missing since school in the morning. It's nighttime, wouldn't...okay okay I won't do the thing where I judge parenting from afar. That must be Karen's daughter.
Julie's got geese? And goose eggs? Peter (William Hunt) is very young to be considered a bad 'un, isn't he? Perhaps it's the earnest English schoolboy thing that I find impossible to imagine going south. Or the floppy hair. At any rate, he's adorable, even when flipping off his mum.
A neighbour stops by and tells Julie about the missing child as helicopters fly overhead and police are everywhere. Another neighbour Petra (Faye McKeever who I know from Unforgiven) heads down to Karen's with Julie, they're both hoping for the best.
Karen tells everyone how nobody's sure when Shannon disappeared; she was out shopping, Craig (Tom Hanson) wasn't there, somehow Shannon went unnoticed.
We focus on Julie a lot, don't we? Since she isn't the mother of the missing girl, that's unusual. She is much more vocal than Karen, though, organizing getting the Moorside Community Center opened by Debbie (Erin Shanagher who I know from The Five (sorry) but really from Ordinary Lies) so they have somewhere to congregate at during the searching.
The press are gathering en masse; surely they must look around as they pull up and think: ah, nope, looks like it's all covered, I won't intrude on someone's space when they're upset. As you were.
Neil Hyett (Darren Connolly) is enjoying the attention, offering up his wife Amanda's (Charlotte Mills) breasts: fiver for a feel! DC Christine Freeman (Siobhan Finneran) and DC Alex Grummitt (Steve Oram) come in and introduce themselves just then and try to clear the room, but Craig's entire family is there and not leaving any time soon. He's playing video games to pass the time, by the way, while his step-daughter is missing and sorry, sorry, I'm doing it again.
DC Christine advises Karen and Craig to not talk to the press, and can DC Alex have a look in Shannon's room? Great. Now some questions and I understand why they get a bit stroppy; it's like when you call anywhere for help and you have to punch in numbers for a machine, then talk to a machine and jump through a bunch of hoops to get to a human who asks you to repeat everything you just did.
Alex finds something in Shannon's room that might have been missed in earlier checks
Julie is ramping up organization at the community center; Debbie's got a grant to keep it open for a while and Julie wants everyone searching properly, they need lists and maps.
Christine is looking into the rest of what's happened in Karen's family; her son kept running away because he wanted to be with his dad, just as Shannon has written.
Julie has everyone out searching in a more organized fashion and is supervising the raising of a giant banner with Shannon's face on it when PC Kinchie (Dean Andrews!!! From Last Tango in Halifax!) walks over; do the police know she's having volunteers go door to door like this? I dunno, DO they, Copper?
They're distracted by Karen on the screen giving a teary televised appeal for Shannon's safe return; it's very difficult not to hate reporters at a time like this. Bottomfeeders of the worst variety. Karen's bestie Natalie (Sian Brooke) and Julie rush over right away; Christine is right on their heels. She kicks everyone out firmly this time; no more messing about with Craig's family.
Christine reiterates the importance of leaving the police to handle the press and bumps up against Julie, who refuses to admit there's a possibility that Shannon might be dead and not missing. Julie storms out and sleeps on the couch in the Community center.
Shannon has been missing 36 hours
Julia and Petra brainstorm about where Shannon could be; she couldn't have been snatched from in front of school, the only answer is her going with someone she knows and that's no answer at all.
Julie goes home, where everyone is watching the news and a call sends her right back to the Community Center: someone wants a TV interview with her.
The police come up just as she's wrapping up her on-camera interview; they appreciate her support and intentions, but she has to stop now. They need to make sure that any searching is done properly (by the police, I assume he means) so that any possible crime scenes don't get contaminated.
But see: they already have Shannon dead, Julie's convinced that isn't the case and that's where the difference in approach lies. Julie doesn't care about prosecuting anyone later, she and the crowd just want to find Shannon. The policeman insists and walks away to boooos.
Christine and Alex are at Karen's home still / again; there's some confusion about how many kiddos she has. She originally told them 6, but it's actually 7 (Jeebus wept), the other three are living with their dads. *pause to process the plural* Okay and what exactly happened that morning? Karen gives a highly unrealistic version of events (there is no way anyone has eaten at that kitchen table for a long time) ending with Karen saying "Bye Darling, I love you " to Shannon with a kiss.
Christine and I:
Just then Christine's phone rings, her ringtone is Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison and Karen leaps to her feet and starts to dance. I know that's supposed to look odd, because her best friend and Christine stare at her as though she has two heads, but I don't think it's that odd. Stress does weird things to people.
This smirk though...
Natalie explains; Karen can't tell the truth, though, not to Christine with her inability to understand what it's like with Social breathing down your neck and threatening to take your kids away. How many of us would pass the perfect parenting tests they seem to require? Let alone someone like Christine openly judging you for having kiddos with more than one father.
Of course: lying to the police who are trying to investigate your daughter's disappearance probably isn't the best idea either.
Natalie fills Christine and Alex in after Karen leaves the room; Karen can be a bit weak when it comes to men, but her homelife has been stable since she met Craig. Natalie blames the dancing on Julie and the police's differing outlooks on whether Shannon will make it home again. Christine and Alex are trying
Shannon has been missing three days
Julie's still giving interviews and poster after poster are being made and hung on every available inch of space. People may have not expected that from this community but they stick together when someone needs something. That's definitely true from what I've seen, it's heartwarming and incredibly obstructive.
Shannon has been missing for seven days
Julie comes home from the Community center to find Peter sitting at home alone with no food; there's f*ck all there! Julie shouts a bit and listens to the news. Shannon's slid down to third item and they're now calling it a murder inquiry. Kinchie comes in just then (hi Robbie!) to steal a cig and see how she's doing, backing up the assertion that Shannon is probably gone, statistically speaking. She storms out; Shannon is not a statistic! Now make Peter's tea
She heads straight over to Karen's, but the police have it all cordoned off. She finds everyone at Natalie's house; Craig makes me wonder / snort when he says he wasn't the only one that used that computer. That is never a good sentence.
Natalie doesn't appreciate everyone telling her kiddo that Shannon will be back soon. She wants to prepare her daughter for the truth; Julie doesn't agree. I'd like to think Julie's approach is a good one, but the odds are not in her favour and her theory about nobody finding her swimming towel=not gone is not exactly iron-clad. Karen excited that her daughter is on TV and maybe going to be famous makes us all stare at each other. Er, Karen?
Julie's organized a march to keep everyone thinking about Shannon, Karen will be leading it and it ends up being a good part of the town following, but Natalie won't allow her daughter Callie (Macy Shackleton) to go. She thinks the town is just using it for an excuse for a piss-up and Callie was a friend of Shannon's, she doesn't want her to see it. Natalie's husband Scouse (John Dagleish) argues that it's just to show solidarity, but Natalie isn't having it.
They release balloons with messages at the end of the march, it's quite beautiful if you don't think about what it means.
Karen is doing a police-led press conference now, the bastages just wait for her to start crying again and then take all the pictures. She pulls herself enough to hold up Shannon's bear (that might not have been her bear, there was an odd exchange with Christine beforehand) and this looks unusual too.
There's a 20,000 quid reward out for news about Shannon; Julie's off to a candlelit vigil which sounds like it's turning into a piss-up. Natalie asks if she'll be putting Karen's kids to bed with hers, then? She just wants Karen to care about what's happening with her kids, she's already had one child go missing.
Ohhhhh no she didn't.
At the party after the candlelit vigil, Julie finds Karen with a fallen face. She's just got the news that her parents have given an interview with the press, but not the kind you'd like to see in print. They hate Craig, too, who's texting Karen right now threatening to take an overdose because Karen hasn't been spending enough time with him.
Let's just look at that for a second: Craig's stepdaughter has been missing for a significant period of time and because her mother is wrapped up in efforts to find her (in between jarring dance bouts and strangely staged appeals), he's getting her attention back by threatening self-harm.
Craig's fine, he took all the harmless medication he could find. Julie takes a round out of him and tells him to stop hiding behind his mum and sister and help Karen!
The police are searching every house on the block now, Natalie stops by to talk to Julie and Petra for a bit. She's not happy about Karen's behaviour and can't stand how everyone is bending over backwards to make excuses for her.
Alex fills Christine in on something important-seeming; Craig has an uncle nobody knows about. His name is Paul Drake and he has a history of child abduction, WHAT? And why did nobody mention this uncle before now? This is like the extra kiddo Karen forgot she had. They're sending a car around.
Julie gets a text that Shannon has been found; we all hold our breath to see if she's all right or not. The text didn't say if she was alive or not. Julie calls Karen, who hasn't heard anything and hangs up when Natalie and Craig's family pulls up outside. Everyone heads to the Community center and Karen...bags trash? Really?
Alex arrives, kicking everyone out so they can talk to Karen and Craig. Alive or not alive, Alex??!! Tell us! Or maybe don't, if it's the wrong way. They found a young girl alive!! Karen needs to identify her!!
Julie asks Kinchie, who gives a smiling "No Comment" and we all cry!! Yay!! So we were wrong and Julie was right, yay!!!!!!
You have no idea how hard it was not to look that up!! Although, to be honest, I didn't look it up because I thought it was a foregone conclusion.
Karen identifies Shannon without being able to talk to her yet
And then stands there completely deadpan before asking if she can go home.
And NOW it's a pissup at the Community Center, Julie is so happy!! Almost like it was HER child found and not Karen, who's strange affect is making us all sniff around her. Natalie and her family stand far back, she's not joining the party until she hears the whole story. She heard that Shannon was found at Craig's uncle's. Julie's "what was she doing there?" takes us to the end of the first installment.