ITV’s Marcella: The story so far

When a TV programme has members of the British public coveting a £535 green parka jacket this close to summer, clearly someone, somewhere, is doing their job right. Enter Marcella, ITV’s new Scandi crime drama, brought to the small screen by internationally renowned Swedish screenwriter and novelist Hans Rosenfeldt. At the half way point of the series, the first four episodes have been a promising start: dark, punchy, menacing, and full of Doctor Foster style sass.

Although reminiscent of other Scandi crime thrillers, Rosenfeldt has exchanged snowy Swedish mountains for London’s skyline in his latest venture, and we follow Marcella and the cast through the bustling humdrum of the rainy capital where everyone is a suspect. Anna Friel has been drafted in as Marcella Blackland (“It’s Mar-chella”, we usefully discover in episode one), a former DS brought back to the force after two bodies have been found, believed to be the same killer from an unsolved case in the past. From this, it seems like a relatively simple plot line, and not too dissimilar to what we’ve seen before. But introduce Marcella’s violent and disorientating blackouts (quite possibly induced by the fact that her husband is having an affair with his boss’ daughter, Grace Gibson), and there’s an even edgier undercurrent to the surface level ‘who’s killing people and putting plastic bags over their heads’ plot line.

Episode’s two and three bring with them more perplexing and disconcerting moments, including the discovery of Grace’s body in the woods, with a plastic bag over head. This is fairly problematic, considering Marcella was at Grace’s front door a few days earlier, which resulted in another violent outburst and Marcella waking up in a bathtub in the opening of episode one looking slightly worse for wear. The cunning use of filming – both the omission of sound when Marcella has her first blackout and the fuddling playfulness of time – leaves the viewers as much in the dark as the characters. It’s the type of programme that makes you groan when the credits roll, wanting to dive headfirst into the next.

There’s a large amount of minor characters in the series, and even by the end of episode four it’s still not clear what position everyone is playing in the Marcella mystery. Without trying to make this review filled to the brim with spoilers, the final few minutes of the latest episode have thrown out all of my suspicions on the killer, and sent viewers back to the detective drawing board.

Just half way through with four episodes still remaining, the series has brought in millions of viewers with its one-hour slot of tension and suspicion. I still don’t really ‘get’ Marcella, you may feel sorry for her although she sure as hell isn’t likeable, but the sheer style of the first few instalments is enough to keep watching (and wanting a parka jacket).


Emma Bowden


Image courtesy of The Guardian.

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