COLLATERAL is another state of the nation drama from David Hare, three years after his previous foray into television with the ‘Worricker Trilogy’ (Page Nine, Turks and Caicos and Salting the Battlefield) ended.
Whereas Worricker was very male-centric with Rachel Weisz’s character more of a support for Bill Nighy’s Worricker, Collateral focuses on its female characters.
One night, a pizza delivery-man is shot on a suburban London street. Was this a random attack? Is there a terrorist link? Why was his shift swapped at the last minute?
The central mystery is quite vague but the characters are intriguing. Detective Kip Glaspie (Carey Mulligan) is leading the investigation; promisingly she shows no early signs of the usual detective clichés (barely functioning alcoholic, maverick, neglecting her family). She just gets on with the job.
There’s also a lesbian vicar (Nicola Walker) whose girlfriend was a keywitness and Karen Mars (Billie Piper) the former wife of local MP David Mars (John Simm- coincidentally in ITV’s new 9pm mini-series Trauma). Having now firmly shaken off her teenage pop career, Piper portrays Karen’s neuroticism whilst still making her a strong woman (Karen grew up in Beirut, after all).
Collateral doesn’t quite have the Bondian glamour of the Worricker Trilogy and it’s hard to tell whether the central mystery will materialise as an important political concern or is simply a device to bring the characters together. Considering Hare’s previous work, it looks like there will be a political significance that will emerge later. It is worth mentioning that social commentary is a hallmark of Hare’s writing, although it’s woven nicely into the plot rather than angry soapboxing.
However the central mystery pans out, I am enjoying the exploration of the characters. It’s refreshing to see a drama with more than one complex female character without the drama overtly being about female issues. What looks melodramatic on paper is turned into a dramatic political statement by the quality of David Hare’s writing and strong performances from Piper and Mulligan in particular.
At the end of the first episode, the identity of the assassin is revealed. Some of the viewers may have predicted the twist but the revelation is going to cause a lot of problems for one character in particular.
- Aired on BBC Two, February 12 2018 at 21:00.