Emma Banville is the definition of the word.
Written by Patrick Harbinson, this six episode TV crime thriller focuses on Emma Banville (played by Helen McCrory). A human rights lawyer who represents clients who she believes has been unfairly treated by the judicial system. She decides to reopen the Kevin Russell case, a man jailed for fourteen years for the murder of a fifteen-year-old girl, Linda Simms. However her investigations prove that this may not be a small East Anglian murder case but a global cover up involving the American air force.
The series has a powerful opening trailer. A little girl balances precariously on a wall. Beneath her a montage of politicians campaigning, including Thatcher and Trump is displayed on the wall face. She tiptoes past the political storm below avoiding the noise and bright lights below. An indication that this character does not play by the rules.
Helen McCrory’s performance is nothing short of incredible and we can’t help but like her. She is intellectual, tenacious and unyielding. Throughout the series the world is against her. She won’t give in without a fight and she won’t suffer fools. Mid season she goes to the extent of recovering the Linda from her grave in order to find more evidence to prove her client’s innocence. Despite the fact this churns up more pain and memories for the Simm’s family, Emma Banville is not afraid to tread on anyone’s toes.
She drives a beaten up Volvo and downs shots of vodka like water; our no-nonsense protagonist is dedicated to her career. However her intimate side is shown as she has a habit of helping “lost causes”. She takes care of the wife of a Syrian refugee, looks after her terminally ill father and all the while prepares to adopt a child with her partner Steve (John Bishop). Flashback scenes also display her past as an activist standing up to authority. We also engage with the protagonist on an emotional level as she faces an internal challenge. Will she be able to give up her “babies” i.e. her clients and career, in order to adopt a child and focus on her own family?
This series has a particularly strong female cast. Even the two antagonists are as ice cold as our protagonist. Wunmi Mosaku plays the role as a policewoman DCS Olivia Greenwood who framed Kevin Russell. Robin Weigert plays the role as Heather Myles, a CIA agent who also has a role in Linda Simms murder and she masterminds the cover up of the American air force involvement in the case. These three central characters constantly try to intimidate and outwit each other. Michael Gambon is cast as former Cabinet Office official with a shadowy past and harbours a controversial secret, which is all linked to the case. He has a sinister, almost villainous undertone throughout the series. However I feel that it is the dynamics of the relationship between Banville, Mosaku and Weigert, which makes the narrative intriguing.
Through this triangle Harbinson is able to knit together several different story strands such as the Linda Simms investigation, Kevin Russell’s relationship with his family, the credibility of a Syrian refugee, the uprising of an American politician, an Anglo-US conspiracy and adoption barriers all into one well-constructed narrative.
Overall I enjoyed this TV series. A powerful, dazzling central character with literally the world against her is great viewing. I like how several different storylines situated in different parts of the world (which seem a bit absurd in the beginning) all merge together and relate to the conspiracy of the Linda Simms case. I would certainly recommend watching this series.