While Prime Suspect had told us to expect a serious toning down of the sexism, beginning with "Carnivorous Sheep," I wasn’t expecting most of Jane's best qualities to be tamed, too.
Yes, the elements of what made Jane such a fantastic character are still there, but along with a reduction in sexism came a reduction in Jane’s bite and it was jarring to watch that in the second episode of the series because there was nothing gradual about it.
Still, I’m willing to give it a little bit of a pass because of the nature of any second episode; you’re no longer a pilot, which means time and budget are now limited. Moreover, the installment is also responsible for setting up a sustainable direction for the series. In the long term, the path Prime Suspect is taking now looks a lot better because that amount of sexism seen on the premiere just wouldn’t fly in 2011.
But I’ve rambled enough about this. We have an episode to discuss!
It appears that once again Jane is the only decent detective on her squad because Duffy and the beef trust are laser focused and convinced that Chris Hughes, a former child molester, is the one who killed a mother and kidnapped her little girl. But Jane has questions.
Hughes was played wonderfully by David Meunier, who you might have recognized from the most recent season of Justified. Jane’s almost instant realization that he wasn’t responsible for the kidnapping, her willingness to go to bat for him, and her attempt to protect him from doing something stupid after the beef trust unnecessarily ruined his clean reputation after prison helped to further set apart Jane and Prime Suspect.
I can’t remember a procedural protagonist that was ever truly sympathetic to a suspect, especially a child molester. Instead of automatically assuming he was guilty and working to build a case around him, Jane was once again more interested in following her gut and checking out all of the angles before assigning blame.
All of that real detective work led Jane to Glenn, who could not be anymore stereotypically guilty unless “I totally did it” was tattooed to his face. Glenn was carrying a grocery bag with cereal, he lived in a creepy apartment with cement for a floor and walls, and his hallway was made of metal and locks. I’m all for pointing out the obvious but I don’t mind a little subtly either.
Aside from the downplay in sexism, this was the other jarring moment for me: the lack of suspense and danger for Jane compared to the pilot. I’m not expecting Jane to take a punch to the face every week, but at least get my heart racing. Instead Glenn ran, Jane caught him in about six seconds, and rescued the little girl.
Overall, Prime Suspect is still a fantastic procedural and Maria Bello is still wonderful to watch. Hopefully, its rough edges will be smoothed out a little more gracefully from here on out.
- Matt’s ex certainly wasn’t toned down. She’s still annoying and might truly be insane. But Jane can still hilariously play her with ease.
- The title card reminds me of a hastily done PowerPoint slide.
- Yes, Jane is addicted to coffee and Nicorette, no need to tell us every act.