Having a sensitive disposition I knew exactly what I was getting myself into with Complicit. Tense, challenging and sometimes slow, this programme toys with your beliefs and your morals, and leaves you disturbed and upset, but fascinated, and very much enlightened.
David Oyelowo is incredible as Edward Ekubo, an MI5 agent who has thrown a huge amount of energy and emotional investment into a case against suspected terrorist Waleed Ahmed. When Ahmed is arrested in Cairo and brutalised by Egyptian police, Ekubo finally has the chance to investigate the terror plot he believes Ahmed to have planned. Ekubo’s life, and his work are transfixing; he is exhausted, and determined.
However, despite the innate urge you feel to support Ekubo, you are hit by the magnitude of a world still living in post-9/11 panic. Questionable methods of investigation are still in place; Ekubo’s methods often make for shocking viewing.
Despite being a hard-hitting MI5 drama, this is no black and white, good-against-evil struggle of action sequences. Complicit is gritty, disturbing, and what’s more, frighteningly realistic; the story of Ekubo and Ahmed one that would slide easily into matters of national security.
Whilst you’d like to think our intelligence service is doing an efficient job of keeping the country safe from terror attacks, the violation of privacy and rights is definitely controversial (at the beginning of Complicit, Ekubo has been monitoring Ahmed for three years).
Often though, you are left torn between two stories: that told by intelligence agents, trying to keep Britain safe, and the one of the people who are subjected to their powerful methods of extracting information.
The conclusion of the first episode is extremely tense, and the war on terror is given a very human perspective. The agents, suspects and victims are not the faceless individuals we have read about in the news, but our fellow British citizens, caught up in a terrified world.
Complicit is Channel 4 on Sundays at 9pm.
words: Eleanor Healing