Tuesday, 17 January 2017

THE LEVEL Episode Two review

The screws keep turning on DS Nancy Devlin (Karla Crome) in this episode. This episode is more expository, adding more background to the key players as she (and the viewer) figure out how they all fit into the big picture.

When a pharmacy security tape showing her buying medical supplies on the night of Frank Le Saux's murder goes missing, Nancy realises there is a mole inside the police. Her fears are compounded when a copy of the footage arrives on her desk.

Struggling to cope with her father's death (and Nancy's involvement in it), her childhood friend Hayley (Laura Haddock) is finding herself dragged deeper into the fallout from his mysterious (but increasingly dubious) business dealings. Especially when it becomes obvious that her mother Cherie (Amanda Burton) knows more than she is letting on...

And as if Nancy hasn't got enough to deal with, she is becoming more suspicious of her new partner Gunner (Noel Clarke), and his links to a past case involving her ne'er-do-well father. Could he be the mole?

The episode ends in a cat-and-mouse chase between Nancy and the killer through a closed factory, which climaxes with Nancy and her partner standing over another dead body.

Another terrific episode that adds more details to the characters' backstories while keeping the major revelations in the shadows, The Level is starting to feel like a really good crime novel. There are a few set piece moments, but the emphasis is largely on character. 

Crome remains a strong centre, but the rest of the cast are starting to come into their own. Downtown Abbey's Robert James-Collier is winsome as Nancy's friend-zoned NCD colleague Kevin O'Dowd. He adds a wry sense of humour that helps keep the show from straying to glum self-seriousness. 

Referring back to the previous review's focus on the show's basis in film noir, it's worth mentioning the Brighton locations -- they really add to the atmosphere of the show. The focus on the clash of old, rotting buildings with the cold modernity of the police station and the Le Saux house sums up The Level's focus on the sins of the past invading the present, which is where The Level's status as a neo-noir becomes more obvious.

It helps that Brighton has a history of being used as a backdrop for earlier British noirs (Brighton Rock, Mona Lisa), which add a (probably unintentional) intertextuality to the show.

Previous reviews

THE LEVEL Episode One

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