The Capture Review: Dystopian Absurdity or Hyperreality- Either Way it’s Brilliant.

At the end of episode 4 of this gripping BBC series, our protagonist is asked if he would “like to know what the f*** is going on?” to which captivated viewers cried “YES!”. The drama is garnering praise as this year’s answer to The Bodyguard, but as this show develops it is easily surpassing it as a timely drama that heralds in the era of fake news and its depths in society. Be aware: Spoilers Alert!

Writer/director Ben Chanan pulls no punches, opening with a bank of surveillance monitors and soon something very, very bad has happened and been caught on CCTV as the police are called to deal with an assault and potential kidnapping-all within the first three minutes. Audiences are then shifted to eighteen hours earlier, where soldier Shaun Emery (Callum Turner, Crimes of Grindelwald)  is imprisoned and is taken to court for an appeal trial. He is charged with the unlawful killing of a Taliban insurgent. However due to a technicality regarding the camera, his sentence is overturned and he is released. Simultaneously, we are introduced to the tenacious Rachel Carey (Holliday Grainger, Great Expectations), a headstrong, up and coming counter-terrorism officer, who’s evidence has just helped prevent a major attack. However, to help promote her career she has moved to being a detective and it is here our two lead characters narratives become intertwined. Following his win in court Shaun goes out to celebrate with his supporters, including his barrister Hannah Roberts. Hannah leaves early and is pursued by Emery where the two discuss whether, now she is no longer representing him, it’s appropriate to date. The two share a kiss and to Shaun’s view Hannah gets on a bus. However we are now back to where we opened and DI Carey is woken to discover a new case, and we start to see the CCTV footage (and the audience’s eyes are surely deceiving them) of Emery as the culprit. Emery is then arrested and then the story really begins. 

Whilst the conclusion of Episode One was gripping, there were two ways the series could have gone.  It could have become a series about soldiers being mistreated after being discharged from the army, and Emery’s attack on Hannah and the subsequent memory loss, a result of PTSD, which whilst undoubtedly important and interesting, doesn’t quite have the same effect as finding out that the key evidence in 95% of murder cases (statistic used in a trailer for the show) is potentially corruptible. Episode Two, however,  made it clear that this was no ordinary thriller, but one that challenges the very nature of our society, which some say is in a state of hyper surveillance.

The Capture is not only highly entertaining but it is utterly timely in the era of fake news, as people will believe anything. Perhaps more alarmingly is the notion repeated throughout the series so far, is that whilst we rely on the protective bubble of CCTV, it is potentially not as impregnable as security services would like us to believe. Some have said that the plot treads a fine line between the believable and the absurd or dystopian. Those who find it absurd are partially correct, as something of this nature shouldn’t possibly be something that could happen. In an era where politicians brand news articles as “fake”, simply for not sharing the point of view. This series reinforces that there is always a bigger picture, nothing is ever that simple, things and people can’t just disappear and there not be consequences. Whilst this drama can be viewed as a very enjoyable thriller, filled with more turns than an Agatha Christie story, it also challenges the very foundations of our society, our security and seems to be pleading with the audience to not just blindly follow, but to listen to feelings and instincts. It is true that in this new era it is hard to tell the real from the fake. 

It is in this way the audience is similar to Emery as we all just want to know ‘what the f***’ is going to happen next. 

Photo Credit: Radio Times