The first drama produced by BBC Scotland, Guilt, premiered late at night on BBC Two but received overwhelmingly positive feedback due to its dark humor and brilliant lead performance by Mark Bonnar. People could not wait to comment on this series’ blog and talk about the show online. So, when we heard that there would be a second season, we were excited.
It was thought the story was over and did not know where it could go next. From the first episode, it looks like Neil Forsyth, who created and wrote the show, is going to do it again. It has been about a year since we met Max McCall, an Edinburgh lawyer played by Mark Bonnar, and his brother Jake (Jamie Sives).
If you watched the first season of Guilt, you might remember that everything started when Jake hit and killed an old man with Max’s car. Max wanted to avoid a scandal, so he insisted they take the dead pensioner back to his nearby home. He hopes that when the police find him, they will think the victim died of natural causes.
Of course, that is not what happened in the end. There were a lot of secrets and turns in the story, many of which were caused by Max’s shady business dealings and his friendship with the dangerous mobster Roy Lynch (Bill Paterson). Max was found guilty of hiding a case of accidental vehicular manslaughter.
He was sent to prison for two years and lost his license to practice law. Friends are getting together at a dinner party in Edinburgh to mark a year since Adrian (Robin Laing) got out of rehab. But it looks like he has not entirely left his old ways behind. When the night is over, his wife Erin (Sara Vickers, in her second great drama after Endeavour) finds two dead bodies in her basement and a bag of money that she has no idea where it came from.
She turns to a face from her past because she does not know what to do. Max (Bonnar), on the other side of town, is getting out of jail after two years for a hit-and-run. As he tries to put his life back together, he runs into detective Kenny (Emun Elliott) and crime boss Roy Lynch, who is now kind of a good guy (Stuart Bowman, replacing Bill Paterson).
As I said, I was most worried about where this new season of Guilt would go. Max was arrested, and we find out early on that Jake has, in fact, moved to the United States. The events of the past are mentioned briefly, and it is clear how they affected Max. He is broke, nobody, and a disgraced lawyer, but he still thinks he deserves help.
There are hints that he wants to be a good person, but they are just hints, and the way things are going, that might not be possible. In the last season, Bonnar was so interesting to watch as the immoral Max. Charming and friendly on the outside but dangerous and cunning on the inside, trying to keep up the appearance that they are in charge.
This episode has some great scenes, significantly when Max figures out what drives him at the end. And the supporting cast is still great. Elliott, who plays a Kenny who is getting clean and moving on with his life, is the only real recurring character. But Roy is not a new character. Bill Paterson does a great job of balancing a friendly attitude with a sense of danger, and Bowman does the same thing with ease.
Vickers joins the cast, and Phyllis Logan plays Erin’s mother, who lives in a retirement home that I think will play a more prominent role in the story later on. At the moment, there are a lot of questions that do not have answers. It is the first episode, so I expect that, but Guilt is not something you can just watch for fun because it seems like a lot is going on.
That is a great idea. I love how Forsyth does not treat us like fools who need to be told everything all the time. At this point, all I know for sure is how good the show looks. It feels like a real drama, with Scotland as its own character, and Patrick Harkins’ direction is excellent. From the way the shots are framed to some perfectly timed montages and cuts, you get the sense that every moment is essential and has weight.
That is a skill, and the show is a lot better because of it. Guilt is back, and it starts strong. It brings together all of the great things about the first season and excites you for the next three episodes. Make sure to check it out; you will not be sorry.