Waking the Dead: Series 4, Episodes 3 and 4: False Flag
Written by Stephen Davis; Directed by Suri Krishnamma
This was Stephen Davis’ final episode of Waking the Dead, and it’s a good one, not least because it features the top brass finally doing what she should have done for ages now: commission a psychological report on Boyd. This is part of a rather interesting storyline which involves plans on the part of the Assistant Commissioner to either dismantle the Cold Case Squad or at the very least bring it under her direct jurisdiction. The catalyst for this is a breach of protocol in which Boyd admits to having entered a property without the appropriate warrant. As a result, the rest of the team feels that he has jeopardised their jobs. As later becomes clear, however, the culprit was in fact not Boyd but Spence: Boyd took the rap because he didn’t want Spence’s prospects of promotion to be affected. It’s little moments like these that help make the characters more multi-faceted, something that is particularly important given Boyd’s ever-increasing instability.
Like one of the writer’s previous episodes, Special Relationships, this one ventures into political conspiracy territory, beginning with the discovery of a man’s body in a car, a bullet through his head and an unexploded bomb strapped underneath. The body is identified as that of Gerald Doyle (Dan Morgan), a young man with decidedly pro-Republican views on the conflict in Northern Ireland, and his death is dated to the late 1970s, roughly coinciding with the assassination of Duncan Sanderson (Christopher Strauli), a prominent Conservative MP whose attitude towards Republicanism was nothing if not hard-line. Sanderson was killed by a bomb strapped under his car, and the similarity of the modus operandi between the two murders leads Boyd and the team to suspect a connection. Working on the hypothesis that Doyle was part of a Republican splinter group, they begin to uncover disturbing evidence suggesting that he and several other like-minded individuals were in fact assassinated at the behest of the British government.
As I’ve said before on numerous occasions, Waking the Dead is nothing if not a confusing programme, and, whenever they tackle high level conspiracies, things have a tendency to get really confusing. This is certainly the case here, and once again I found myself beginning to wonder if I’d lost my marbles during the final half-hour, but along the way there is some choice interaction between the team to keep the viewer engaged. Particularly choice are Grace’s attempts to build a profile of the uncooperative Boyd, not to mention a particularly delicious opportunity to watch the man squirm in which Frankie assures him she can defuse an unexploded bomb, before proceeding to ask him which colour of wire he thinks she should cut first. It all gets a tad muddled towards the end, and the denouement for the individual behind the killings is less than satisfactory, but it’s once again a strong episode and a nice swansong for a writer whose standard of episodes has been consistently high.
Holby connections: Peter De Jersey, who plays Dr. Chris Reed in this episode, appeared in Holby City as charge nurse Steve Waring between Series 3 and 5.