The Beast Must Die is not a gripe by a bad contestant on The Chase, but is actually a new Britbox drama set on the Isle of Wight and, I understand, based on a 1938 novel (if IMDB is accurate… if…), and mixed in two lead characters.
Top cop Nigel Strangeways (Billy Howle – The Serpent) is new to CID in this sleepy town, and it’s his first day on the job, but this drama chops and changes in its timeframe, so whatever’s going on in the investigation for which we’re yet to discover, he’s talking to a psychiatrist about it all. I’m guessing this is linked with his seemingly unexplained occasional panic attacks, but that’s guesswork on my part. There are some other facets to his story which you’ll discover, however.
The previous guy in the job did 10 years in the army, 13 years in CID and then died on a golf course, so retirement isn’t all that. As such – and we see quite how lazy this police unit was before he arrived – due dilligence wasn’t done in the case for Frances Cairnes (Cush Jumbo, above-left, Deadwater Fell, Remainder), whose son died in a hit-and-run incident where the killer was never caught.
Frances opens her story by telling us how she wants to find and kill the man who she’s never seen before, but she believes she knows he killed her son, and all she’s had from the cops is a NFA (No further action) letter, meaning while the case isn’t technically closed, no further action will be taken.
We learn she knows it’s George (Jared Harris – Chernobyl) (I’m not sure why, but maybe I missed that moment – yet I can’t see anything that points to this, but it’s the plot, according to the ever-accurate IMDB), but while watching this, I was half-wondering if it would end up like The Beast Must Die where there’s a number of plausible suspects, and in the final episode, the writer seems to spin the random number generator to pick a baddie, regardless of whether or not it made sense.
At the point of posting my initial review, I have seen two episodes – and obviously, I won’t go into details to how things turn out so far – but I can say that credibility is stretched when Frances’ chance of a lead is to easily convince a vehicle repair garage to give her a particular address, leading to them completely ignoring the Data Protection Act.
Like Innocent Series 2, the scenery looks glorious, but the credibility band almost snapped when Frances somehow latched on to party girl Lena, which happens to take her back to the Isle of Wight, and into the path of George.
After two episodes, Nigel’s situation is coming across as a lot more believable than Frances’, given that she’s in the role of ‘grieving moyther turns hard-ass private detective’, going round, poking her nose and looking for answers. How long before her cover is blown? Or are they all remarkably thick?
Either way, so far, there’s not really any likeable charcters which doesn’t help, but there’s an amusing moment when his cop partner suggests calling someone and asking them to come in for questioning, and Nigel says, “I have an idea, how about today, we pretend we’re real cops, and we call on him before he knows we’re coming? How does that sound(?)”
So far, when it comes to the first two episodes I’ve watched – both of which last almost an hour (and that’s without adverts, as Britbox is a streaming service, so if it does come to ITV later, the News at Ten will end up being the News at 10.15pm, that week) – Episode 1 started to build a reasonable premise, while episode 2 just trundled along without offering much in the way of advancing the plot.
I’ll stick with it, but let’s hope it ups its game, and doesn’t go all ‘Intruder‘ on us, falling as flat as a pancake being cooked in a cave.
The Beast Must Die begins on Britbox with two episodes on Thursday May 27th, and then the other three episodes will stream weekly.
Episode 1: 6/10
Episode 2: 2/10
Episode 3: TBA
Episode 4: TBA
Episode 5: TBA
Director: Dome Karukoski
Novel: Cecil Day-Lewis
Screenwriter: Gaby Chiappe
Music: Matthew Herbert
Frances Cairnes: Cush Jumbo
Nigel Strangeways: Billy Howle
George Rattery: Jared Harris
Lena: Mia Tomlinson
Phil Rattery: Barney Sayburn
Trish: Karenza Boscawen
Violet: Maeve Dermody
Martie Cairnes: William Llande
Blount: Nathaniel Parker
Liz Jerwood: Manjinder Virk
Asha James: Aasiya Shah
Saima: Zahra Ahmadi
Vincent O’Brien: Douggie McMeekin
Ian Yates: Kojo Kamara
Sgt Westfield: George William East
Rory Toland: Albie Marber
Birdie: Matilda Perkins
Niamh: Emily Taaffe
Nicky Toland: Nico Mirallegro
Joy: Geraldine James
Mr Crowther: Paul Jesson
Mechanic: Daniel Fearn
Marta: Elina Knihtila
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.