Every season, the Drama After Dark team gathers ‘round the (still virtual) conference room table to watch the latest and greatest in all things drama. This month, I'm delighted to finally get another season of one of my absolute favorite mysteries from MASTERPIECE: Unforgotten. Each season of this twisty, fraught show covers a complex cold case with incisive devastation, and I could not be more here for it. If you haven't seen previous seasons, catch up here, and I'll be recapping season 4 as it airs on Sunday nights.
After last week the metaphorical cat (i.e. Matt the murder victim) is well and truly out of the bag, and our suspect pool of formerly newly qualified cops knows it. This week, we dive right into the emotional fallout from the press conference, featuring all four of our suspects’ sleepless nights which, in the case of Family Therapist, is so bad she decides to fake a flu to stay home and stew. Not staying home, but absolutely stewing, is Cassie’s boss, who is mad as hell that she’s continuing to investigate a bunch of former/current cops when there’s an obvious and conveniently deceased non-police scapegoat in Dead Hoarder.
Cassie: Well, because some of these people are still cops. And they’re, ya know, alive, so they should be able to give us some real answers?
Cassie’s Boss: You have two days to find something to show it wasn’t Dead Hoarder; that’s what you get. Maybe start with cause of death? Or the rest of the body?
Meanwhile, it seems that Family Therapist isn’t the only one pretending to be off sick: Not Good Enough gets a call from her boss, who’s surprised she’s at home. Lucky for her, she’s got a good excuse, given that she got fairly well acquainted with the pavement and a bike thief’s elbow just the other day. Her boss, as it happens, isn’t just calling to see where she is: he’s heard from the interview committee, and she’s going to be offered the job. Now normally this would probably be great news, but in light of everything that’s happened, I’m sure we all have a pretty good idea of why she’s less than thrilled.
Back at the station, DS Beanpole draws a recreation of the night Matt went missing. Based on the map, it becomes clear that even though the witness may have seen one of our suspects chasing the victim that night, it’s also possible that she left before the rest joined the pursuit. She also didn’t get a good look at the car that the suspect jumped out of, so in general it’s not a ton to go on. Cassie has a lot of questions. Specifically:
1. If this was Dead Hoarder’s car, why did they stop?
2. Why did at least one of them, possibly DCI Suspect, get out of the car?
3. What is the connection between any of these people and Matt?
4. What the hell happened to Matt? And how many of the suspects, if any, were involved?
Here’s the plan. DS Beanpole will follow up with all the witnesses again. DS Grumpy gets an address for Matt’s brother Clive from the letters Clive sent to Matt’s son Jerome, which hopefully he will use to find Clive. DC Babyface needs to find the rest of the body, possibly with those keys he sent to the lab last episode. DC I Didn’t Remember Her But Apparently She Was Also in Season One gets to comb through all the professional files for the four suspects to find any naughty secrets or skeletons in their closets. And Sunny and Cassie? They’re gonna talk to our suspects.
In the countryside, Family Therapist calls the real estate agent’s office.
Family Therapist, pretending to be chill: Hi! I was there yesterday — did my deposit go through yet?
Real Estate Guy: Uh, not sure? I can check?
Family Therapist: Thank you! And if it hasn’t, can you please stop it?
Real Estate Guy:
Family Therapist: Yeah uhhhh… we have a personal situation? And I need a few days to sort it out.
Real Estate Guy: Ok? Well I’ll check and call you back.
On the way out to start her interviews, Cassie calls DS Grumpy and gives him an extra assignment: start looking for phone records on the suspects just in case they’ve been in contact with each other since the news came out. Also grappling with an extra assignment is Sunny, and unfortunately for him, the extra assignment, at the moment, is work. See, our friend is moving, and has had this day off in his calendar for six weeks. But with a ticking clock situation, he doesn’t have a lot of options. He’s not thrilled, and Lady Friend is downright pissed, but what can you do?
While Charity Auction Guy keeps trying to hide how upset he is while simultaneously setting up said charity auction, which is raising money for a group that supports families like his that have children with mental handicaps, Family Therapist gets a call from someone who isn’t even trying to hide his feelings: her brother in law. He’s mostly just confused: why is she trying to stop her deposit?
Family Therapist: Ok, look. Don’t tell your brother, but can I come and see you?
Brother In Law, for some reason kind of creeping me out: Sure? I’m in meetings all day but free in the evening. You know what, my last appointment is near my place — meet me there at 6:30.
Family Therapist: Great. See you then.
Seems ill advised, but definitely not as bad as what DCI Suspect is up to! Remember how he was doing some digging into the gal who made a sexual harassment claim against him? Apparently that included finding her address and tracking her down at home. Obviously, she tries to avoid him, but he sticks his foot in her door and makes her an offer she may not be able to refuse involving cold hard cash. Less willing to talk about money? Not Good Enough, who’s being VERY shifty in her next conversation with Eugenia, the woman who cares for Not Good Enough’s mean mother, MahlerFan.
Not Good Enough, less honest with each passing word: Look, I’m sorry, I haven’t had time to think about your pay. Also, my mom asked if you could stop bringing your kid around; apparently she makes a lot of noise.
Me: The silent child doing her homework that I didn’t even notice at first because I was writing down this conversation? Yeah, ok.
Eugenia: I’m sorry; it’s just that childcare is very expensive. That’s part of why I need a raise.
Not Good Enough: Now is just not a good time — I mean, look at my big ol’ bruised face! I’ll come back to you in a couple of days, I promise.
Kinda doubt it, but it’s not like Eugenia has a ton of options. She leaves Not Good Enough alone, but not for long, because guess who’s coming up the walkway? The fuzz.
And Cassie isn’t the only one looking into Not Good Enough: Family Therapist has let her fingers do the walking on ye olde world wide web, and looks to be contemplating giving her old classmate a call. But before she gets a chance, she gets a detective visit of her own, in the form of Sunny, and his omnipresent backpack.
The interview with Not Good Enough begins on a somewhat bizarre note: because of her station, Cassie addresses her quite respectfully (for now, at least).
Not Good Enough: Please, relax. Madame Not Good Enough is my mother’s name.
Cassie: Ok cool. Anyway, like I said, we’re looking into what we think is a cold case: we’re still working to determine the cause of death. But we’re hoping you might be able to help with some details of a night that might be connected to the case.
Not Good Enough, charming AF: Well, carry on then!
Cassie gives an overview of the case, and Not Good Enough acts like she only vaguely remembers hearing this on the news, and that it didn’t shatter her whole world and a couple of mugs in the process. Cassie slides a photo of Matt across the table, and Not Good Enough pretends that it doesn’t bring up a bunch of memories, which quickly flash across the screen. Cassie, in my opinion, isn’t buying it, especially since Not Good Enough also claims to have no idea who Dead Hoarder was (even though we obviously know they were classmates).
Cassie: Well, here’s the thing: we’re pretty sure that Dead Hoarder was in your cop training class. So would you maybe take another look at the photo?
Not Good Enough doubles down on having no memory of Dead Hoarder, and Cassie, who is after all very good at bluffing, pretends that this is all routine and no big deal while simultaneously tightening the net by explaining that she’s pretty sure Dead Hoarder had some of his classmates in his car the night in question, and oh by the way, one of them was Not Good Enough. It’s a masterstroke, but Not Good Enough is also not someone I’d like to face across a poker table, and she pretends to be completely confused. In the hallway, Eugenia, who already has some doubts about Not Good Enough due to MahlerFans ominous pronouncements about her daughter last week, creeps closer to better overhear this increasingly uncomfortable conversation. For now, neither woman budges: Cassie even goes so far as to offer to let professional standards interview Not Good Enough instead, if she’d be more comfortable, which is of course, given Not Good Enough’s nascent promotion, a threat.
Over at Family Therapist’s house, the interview is much less tense, but definitely still full of BS on the part of our suspect. She claims to vaguely remember Dead Hoarder, but not well, even when Sunny digs into whether they were friendly.
Sunny: Was your training group close? Did you, oh, I don’t know, stay in touch with anyone?
Family Therapist: I’m guessing you know I didn’t stay in the job very long — so why would you ask me that? Trying to catch me?
Sunny: Noooooo, definitely not!
Family Therapist: No, we weren’t tight; no, I don’t talk to anyone.
Sunny: Ok, gotcha. Just gonna run a few names by you, see if you remember them.
Family Therapist: Why?
Sunny: Don’t worry about it, it’ll be super fast. Charity Auction Guy?
Family Therapist: No.
Sunny: DCI Suspect?
Family Therapist: Yeah, a little bit? I just remember there was one Sikh guy.
Sunny: Not Good Enough?
Family Therapist: Nope.
Sunny: Well, see, you do remember a couple of people a bit! So helpful! Anyway, let’s talk about the night of your graduation party.
While Family Therapist is tense and unhappy, Not Good Enough keeps up her veneer of polite unbotheredness. She tells Cassie that she remembers DCI Suspect, and knows he’s doing some good work over in vice, but doesn’t recall being in a car with him or any of the other names. But it’s been 30 years, so why would she? Cassie, ever calm, pushes her: doesn’t she remember Dead Hoarder getting a DUI and ruining his life?
Not Good Enough, fake: OH, well now that you mention it, I DO remember it. So sorry. I think it might have actually been me who drove his car back after he got arrested! I lived nearby, so it was easy — dropped everyone else off, and then left his car by his place.
Cassie: Anything else you can remember? Anyone’s mood? The car stopping at any point? Anyone getting in or out of the car?
Not Good Enough: You mean like a dead body in the trunk? No, I think I would remember that.
Cassie: Great, well, thank you. Super helpful.
Not Good Enough, can’t help herself from being impressed: You’re good.
Well, pal, if we didn’t suspect you before, we sure as hell do after that comment! And you know who else does? Eugenia, who uses this as some well deserved leverage to force Not Good Enough to sit down and have a chat about her paycheck sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, Sunny has less luck with Family Therapist.
Sunny: I mean, you’re SURE you don’t remember any of this? It’s a pretty wild night, right?
Family Therapist: Sure, under normal circumstances. But see, my dad was a cop. And my grandfather. Dad always said the day I qualified was the best day of his life, but I hated it. I mean, of course I did; it was not the career for me! Anyway, I coped by drinking; it was so bad I’m shocked I didn’t get kicked out. I was extraordinarily drunk the day of the ceremony, and also for the next few years, if I’m honest: I don’t remember anything. My dad died the year after, I quit the force, and I got sober. Anyway, that’s why I don’t know what happened that night.
Sunny, soldiering on: Ok. Well, last thing: I’m going to show you a photo of the victim.
Just like Not Good Enough, memories flash on the screen when Family Therapist looks at the photo, and just like Not Good Enough, she lies and says she doesn’t recognize him.
And speaking of thickening plots, DCI Suspect barges into his boss’ office to talk about the harassment situation.
Boss: Ugh, please go away, you know we’re not supposed to talk about this.
DCI Suspect: Yes, and if I was white, or maybe less annoying, I wouldn’t have to, but here we are. Here’s the deal: I found out that the temp just happens to have a cousin who is a big bad drug dealer AND a member of a far right hate group, and who I just put in jail. And if this recording of her I took this morning is to be believed, she agrees with his crappy opinions!
Without further ado, DCI Suspect presses play on the recording, which does in fact feature the temp in question using a racial slur. Pretty gross! But did she say this on her own, or because DCI Suspect paid her to? While we ponder THAT, Sunny and Cassie catch up about their respective interviews over the phone.
Sunny: Yeah, Family Therapist was SUPER weird, but we still don’t have a connection between Matt and any of these suspects.
Cassie: Not yet, at least.
Sunny: True, we do still have two interviews. But we don’t even know for sure he was killed that night. All we know is that there was a car, and two dudes who MAY have been one of our suspects and the victim.
Cassie: Fair enough. Look, I’m getting a call from DC Babyface, let’s talk again after we finish the interviews.
Sunny: Cool. Bye!
DC Babyface: Hey so I got the keys back from the lab — most of them are useless, but there’s one with initials on it. I checked into it, and there’s a storage facility not too far from here with the same initials — worth checking, right?
Cassie: Very much so! Well done, Babyface!
Well done indeed. While DC Babyface basks in the glow of Cassie’s praise, Family Therapist has to explain her weird behavior to Brother In Law.
Family Therapist: Look, I screwed up. I’m worried about something from my past coming back to bite me; if the mortgage company finds out, they might stop funding us, and we’d lose our deposit.
Brother In Law: Uh. What thing in your past?
Family Therapist: I’ll tell you, but first: can you change my name on the forms? Give me the same last name as your brother, as if we were married?
Brother In Law: So the “thing” can’t be linked to you now? Well, first, probably not, but even if I could: no? Anyway, the mortgage company won’t withdraw their loan, you’re approved.
Family Therapist: But they can, if they get new information! Look, I have a criminal conviction. It’s from a long time ago, I’m pretty sure it’s been expunged, and I don’t want to talk about it. But I woke up all worried about it.
Brother In Law: And you didn’t think to tell this to me, or, I don’t know, your partner, before you put all that money down? Tell me what it is!
Family Therapist: I can’t!
Brother In Law: Ugh, ok. They’ve already done all their checks, so unless this was something that came up in the news in the next couple of weeks, you’re fine. I mean, unless it was money related?
Family Therapist: No, I promise it wasn’t that. Can you help me?
Brother In Law: Wow, you’re straight up just not gonna tell me anything useful, huh? And my brother doesn’t know anything about this? Even if I could do it... I’d be putting myself in a lot of danger. I could lose my license!
Family Therapist: But if anyone finds out, and we lose that money, it would ruin us.
Brother In Law, doing the horribly skeevy thing I was hoping he wasn’t going to do: So. What would you do for me in return?
Barf. At the charity auction, Charity Auction Guy takes the stage to welcome everyone, and is, TBH, just incredibly charming. For all his shady dealings, he does know how to work a crowd (though I guess that’s not surprising given that charming bluster is a big part of smuggling random stuff across borders). In his speech, he thanks his son for the impact he’s had on Charity Auction Guy, which is very sweet and well received by the crowd. While he’s, presumably, making a veritable crapload of money, DCI Suspect and Downstairs finally have that discussion about what the results of her blood test could mean: for them, and for their kid.
Downstairs: So I did a lot of research, and found out that on balance, you can raise a child with Down syndrome and have a life that’s pretty normal. But I don’t want “pretty normal.” I want a boring, ordinary kid that isn’t going to get me well meaning platitudes from strangers, is going to be a hellion as a teen and then a fun adult who leaves home so we get our childfree life back, and eventually gives us grandchildren. I know this makes me sound awful.
DCI Suspect: It doesn’t.
Downstairs: I’m trying to be honest. I don’t think I can do this; I don’t think I’m a good enough person. And I think I would be resentful.
DCI Suspect: I think that’s a pretty normal reaction.
Downstairs: Yeah, but is that what you thought?
DCI Suspect: ...no. If we found out tomorrow that the baby had Down syndrome, I would go ahead with it. It’s your decision, but yeah, that’s what I’d do. When they said there was a problem I didn’t even think about it; everything is imperfect.
Well, how’s THAT for a super heavy conversation? While they struggle, the next morning, Charity Auction Guy revels in the success of his event, telling his assistant that it was gratifying and that they made a lot of cash. His good mood is, however, not long for this earth, because as his assistant leaves the office, he spots Cassie walking toward the building through his window. Not ready to face the music, he grabs his coat, makes his excuses, and gets the hell out of there. Also going somewhere? Family Therapist, who waits for her partner and stepkids to leave before sneaking out of the house, and Sunny, who arrives at DCI Suspect’s station for an interview.
If Charity Auction Guy really thought going to help clean up after the auction would be enough to deter Cassie, I have some stolen computer parts to sell him. While she pulls him aside for questions, Sunny makes his way into DCI Suspect’s office.
DCI Suspect: Talk about a historic occasion — two of us in one office!
DCI Suspect: Have we met before? Maybe at an advocacy group event?
Sunny: Hm, I don’t think so — I’m not part of the group, so…
DCI Suspect, not feeling THAT: Yikes, ok. Well, what can I do for ya, pal?
Sunny: Well, we’re looking into a 30 year old cold case.
DCI Suspect: I wasn’t even a cop 30 years ago though... So you must be here because you think I witnessed a crime?
Sunny: We hope so!
DCI Suspect, abruptly furious: Well in that case, you can leave. If you want to interview me we’ll do it officially. I would have thought we were on the same team, but maybe you’d rather fit in with white people. Whoever sent you from upstairs, tell them nice try.
Two things: it really sucks that DCI Suspect has credible reasons to be so worried that he’s being unfairly persecuted for his race, AND, I really do not appreciate anyone talking crap about Sunny. While DCI Suspect contemplates his potential enemies, Downstairs has a tense meeting with a doctor, who reminds her that any test results they have so far aren’t diagnostic: she’ll still have to get amniocentesis (which has a small risk of miscarriage) if she wants to know for sure if their baby has Down syndrome.
Need a break from the tension? We might have one: Cassie’s son did take her suggestion to take his granddad out for a pint, and they’re having a nice chat about Dad’s Girlfriend.
Dad: Look, I really care about her. She’s kind of intense, but she can be so thoughtful and fun. And she doesn’t have a lot of money; I know she’ll be doing a LOT for me in the next few months. It only seemed right for me to support her.
Son: I get it, Granddad, you don’t have to explain it to me!
Kind of sweet, TBH, but I’m not sure Cassie will agree. Not that she knows about this convo yet, because she’s busy interviewing Charity Auction Guy, who is, like his fellows, not telling her everything.
Charity Auction Guy: I mean, of course I remember Dead Hoarder, and that night — it’d be hard to forget. But I don't remember this kid.
Cassie: And you don’t remember the car stopping at any point?
Charity Auction Guy: No, but we had all been drinking.
Cassie: And you left the force a few weeks later — why?
Charity Auction Guy: I realised it wasn’t for me: I didn’t like taking orders, didn’t like working with a team. I’m more of a solo guy.
Cassie: You might be underestimating yourself — that’s a pretty nice office you’ve got, and your secretary told me how successful this event last night was!
Charity Auction Guy: Aw, nice of her! I guess we’ll never know. Anyway, I haven’t talked to any of them since; just lost touch.
Cassie doesn’t seem to buy that, and neither, it must be said, do I. Across town, DC Babyface waits outside the self storage facility, heading in as soon as the first employee shows up. But before we see if he’ll find anything, we get an… odd… parting interaction between Charity Auction Guy and Cassie. See, our pal Charity Auction Guy is curious: why would someone cut off the head and hands?
Cassie: Well, it helps hide the identity.
Charity Auction Guy, seeming genuinely perturbed: Yikes. And Dead Hoarder just kept the body? I guess you never know what a person is capable of.
Back at the storage facility, DC Babyface is in luck: Dead Hoarder did indeed have a unit, and he’d been renting it for almost a decade. But before we can find out what’s inside, we follow DCI Suspect, who’s found a payphone (a challenge, in this day and age) and uses it to make a call. To whom, I cannot say, but we’ll probably find out, because DCI Suspect is quite insistent that they need to meet.
Back at the storage facility, DC Babyface triumphantly uses the key to open the unit, which is full of boxes, possibly containing those severed body parts. A weird thing to smile about in a normal show, but who wants normal?
Back at home, DCI Suspect finds Downstairs crying on the couch, so I think we can deduce what the blood test said. While he tries to support her, Not Good Enough gets an unexpected visitor: Family Therapist.
Not Good Enough: What the hell are you doing here?
Family Therapist: We need to talk!
Not Good Enough: Not here we don’t. Meet me at a park tomorrow. Don’t drive, wear a hoodie, and pay for your ticket with cash.
Ok, damn: talk about forensic countermeasures! Every one of these people is looking more guilty by the second. And Sunny might agree. He fills Cassie in on his chat with DCI Suspect earlier, and adds some more background.
Sunny: So apparently he’s just kind of… like that. And he’s got a long history of misconduct allegations against him, for pretty much everything you can think of: drugs, abusing sex workers, planting evidence, lots of low level stuff.
Cassie: Uh, so how does he still have his job?
Sunny: Well he’s fought off every single one of them. He’s been very vocal about saying they were all racially motivated.
Cassie: Interesting. So how was he with you?
Sunny: Fine until he figured out what I was doing, then he kicked me out. And how was Charity Auction Guy?
Cassie: Oh, delightful, but I might just think that because he has a disabled son and does charity work?
Sunny: Well yeah, look at Jimmy Savile. Anyway, we’ve talked to all of them…
Cassie, after a long pause: Look, ok, you were right. I do have an agenda. And so far we have no real evidence. But my gut is telling me that there’s something here.
Sunny: And normally I would NEVER question your gut. But there’s so much going on for you right now; let’s just be careful, and sleep on it? I did move in with my Lady Friend today, it would probably be a good thing if I went home eventually.
Cassie: LOL, yeah a VERY good thing, you’re gonna be in trouble. Get outta here!
Now obviously we all know that Cassie’s gut is indeed right (because there wouldn’t be a plot otherwise), but the evidence is finally starting to bear that out. At the storage facility, DC Babyface has finally dug his way to the very back of the locker, where he finds a very familiar looking (and, unfortunately for him, unplugged) mini-freezer. I wonder what’s in there!
And as Cassie leaves the station for the night, DS Beanpole arrives back at the office having talked to a witness who confirmed that Matt was being chased that night... and a chase suggests some kind of motive for murder. Even better, DC Babyface proves to have truly remarkable timing, calling while Cassie talks to DS Beanpole with the good news: he found the rest of the body. Is that storage facility employee ever going to recover from what he had to see today? Will the missing bits be enough to determine cause of death and get the boss off their back? And just how loudly will Cassie say “I told you so” to all of her doubters? I guess we will just have to watch episode four to find out.