Waking The Dead Review: More Mind Games

WAKING THE DEAD: Sunday 13th March, BBC1, 9pm

If you’ve seen Waking The Dead before, it needs little introduction. If you haven’t, let me just confirm: there are no zombies – not one, and no dead people are actually brought back to life because this is a drama about a special police unit that investigates unsolved crimes. Don’t get your hopes up for a full story though, because this is just the first part of a double-header (that’s the way this show has always conducted its business).

The plot for Harbinger – series nine’s opening brace – revolves around missing banker Donald Rees, whose case gets reopened when his car is found in a section of woodland. This means that Peter Boyd and his team are back on the job with a newbie in tow – Sarah Cavendish, an officer who has been ‘gifted’ to them from the terrorism unit. Boyd wants to know why they are getting this officer, but the Official Secrets Act prevents anyone from saying – in other words, she’s probably crazy.

Moving on through the realms of conspiracy and conjecture, the team meet Rees’s family and his scary son seems to see dead people. Or not. It’s difficult to know for sure, but either way the kid has some serious issues and ends up with a nosebleed, which can’t be good. Oh, and there’s some really strange old people in funeral clothes that have been following the family around. Freaky.

The team also interview another banker, one that was fired by Donald Rees before he disappeared. This guy is a world-class asshole. He admits that as he was being escorted out of the building after being fired, he shouted at Donald about his daughter’s cancer, among other horrible things. Surely if ever there was a time for a bit of police brutality, this is it? Alas, no, but he does point the team in the direction of a woman he thinks Donald was seeing.

So along they go, and after a classic piece of Boyd breaking and entering, find themselves confronted by a woman with a shotgun. Which is probably just what they deserve. But then Sarah gets all Jack Bauer on the woman, wrestles the gun from her control and looks like she’s going to finish her off. Told you she was crazy.
The rest of the show involves more sleuthing and the typical semi-conclusion that you get at the end of a two-part story. And a flaming woman – don’t say you haven’t been warned. Waking the Dead is still a colossal mindfuck, and this episode will get your head spinning from the sheer amount of weirdness woven into what seems to be a fairly simple storyline. It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you think you can take it, it’s very compelling.

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