‘Criminal: UK’ earned a reputation for itself by giving tense one-hour interrogations to the audience where the truth remains within their reach but just out of it, keeping them guessing about the nature of the suspect put in front of them. The second episode of Season 2 sticks to this approach and delivers a sharp episode, which takes us back to the first episode of Season 1 where the inherent likability of David Tennant had worked in the favor of his character, who was accused of a heinous crime. Kit Harington’s Alex has the same benefit of the doubt because we have seen him play the nice guy for such a long time, and that’s what the episode uses to its advantage. The uncertainty remains until the end, and here’s how it turns out.
Criminal Season 2 Episode 2 Recap
The episode begins with a man named Alex in the interrogation room telling the cops about the night he went out for a few drinks with his colleagues, one of whom was Sarah. He claims that after everyone was gone, he and Sarah ended up at his flat where they had consensual sex. He makes a point of highlighting that, all the time, Sarah was the one steering the situation and that he just went along with what she wanted. But DI Natalie Hobbs makes it clear that they don’t believe him.
What’s the case?
Sarah recently joined the real estate firm that Alex had been employed at. Every Friday night, the sales team would go out for a few drinks, where Alex would buy the first round. One time, when everyone else had dispersed and he and Sarah were the only ones left in the cab on the way, on Sarah’s insistence, Alex decided to have another drink at his place. Soon after, things got intimate between them, and that’s where the stories diverge. Sarah tells the cops that Alex raped her, but he claims that everything that happened that night was completely consensual and that Sarah is lying.
The Ending: Is Alex the culprit?
Unlike the first episode of the season, where we know pretty early that the suspect is guilty, the second episode stretches the mystery for a good part of it. As the questions start pouring in about the conflicting accounts, and in the lack of any proper physical evidence to prove that the crime took place, we keep going back and forth about the guilt of Alex. The fact that he is arrogant doesn’t help his case, and his subtle sexism makes him look like he is resorting to victim-blaming to get himself clear of the charges. But then again, it does not prove his guilt.
In the end, it turns out that Alex was not lying. He had been telling the truth the entire time and Sarah was the one who made up the story. Why? To answer that the cops look at her conversations with her flatmate and best friend, Claire. It turns out that before Sarah had reported the crime, she had a text conversation with Claire where she mentioned that she did not get the promotion she had been vying for. Claire replies with “Bungalow reunion?”. This gets Warren and Petit, in the observation room, intrigued and they look into the travel history of the girls, and that’s when the whole truth comes to light.
It turns out that Claire’s previous job had lasted only a month. She had applied for a promotion, but she didn’t get it, following which she accused her boss of sexual misconduct. Rather than taking it to the police, the company decided to do away with the whole matter by paying Claire to leave the job. She used that money to fund a trip to South Africa, accompanied by Sarah, where they had stayed at Safari Bungalow. Now, Sarah goes through a similar situation, where she doesn’t get the promotion she had applied for. When she tells this to Claire, she tells her to pull off the same trick as her and get the money to fund another trip. While this doesn’t prove that Alex didn’t do anything, it insinuates that Sarah might not be telling the truth either. And so, Alex is allowed to leave. But the story doesn’t end there.
All the curiosity and excitement that the episode had been working on turns into a moment of discomfort when Alex asks what happens to him now? The cops make it clear that they will not be pressing charges, but they don’t tell him why. They don’t tell him that he was right and Sarah had been lying, and they won’t tell this to his friends, family, and colleagues, in front of whom he was arrested. He wonders if he will receive some sort of certificate to prove that he was found innocent, but Hobbs tells him that he has just not been found guilty.
Even though he won’t be going to prison, Alex’s reputation has been tarnished and it will stick with him for a long time, if not for the rest of his life. He demands the officer to accompany him to his office and his home and tell everyone that he didn’t rape anyone, but of course, that’s not going to happen. As Alex gets furious about the injustice done to him, he is escorted out of the station, but this leaves the viewer wondering about the fact that he might still be seen as a criminal, and the lack of the proof of guilt doesn’t automatically mean innocence for someone.