by Dr Adam Lynes, Lecturer in Criminology at Birmingham City University

One of the more interesting themes from this week (Episode 3) was the juxtaposition between how the media reported and portrayed the young murdered couple to, as hinted at the end of the episode, the potentially darker reality behind why they were in fact killed. This brings us to the notion of the ‘ideal victim[s]’, who are described as being:

  1. The victim is weak in relation to the offender – the ‘ideal victim’ is likely to be either female, sick, very old or very young (or a combination of these).
  2. The victim is, if not acting virtuously, then at least going about their legitimate, ordinary everyday business.
  3. The victim is blameless for what happened.
  4. The victim is unrelated to and does not know the ‘stranger’ who has committed the offence.
  5. The offender is unambiguously big and bad. (adapted from Christie 1986).

Many of these factors that constitute an ideal victim are present in the case of the young married couple who were murdered at the beginning of the series, and seem to have been drawn upon by the media in the various media reports presented to the viewer throughout this episode. This is certainly further enhanced when examining the supposed killer’s identity, who can be described as a knife-wielding drug addict. Of course, though, things are not as they seem in this series when considering them against real life cases. The media has a tendency to reduce victims to some core physical traits which happens to make for a gripping, if inaccurate, story.

Similar to last week, this episode seems to be painting Rob as the killer – especially as he admitted to killing the supposed murderer at the end of the episode. He certainly has motivation and demonstrated a cool-head and practical skills when disposing of the supposed killer’s body. If this series is to take a more realistic or accurate depiction of murder, then Rob would indeed be the murderer and was in fact speaking the truth when he confessed at the end of this week’s episode. Despite this though, one has to ask if it would make for good TV if that was the end of that particular mystery!

As mentioned in last week’s blog, I really like seeing ordinary people go through extraordinary circumstances, and the ramifications of such events. Most crime series seem to revolve around a psychopathic super-criminal who is always one step ahead of the brilliant yet emotionally scarred detective. Instead, this show represents a seemingly ordinary family just trying to put the pieces of their lives back together whilst struggling to find the energy to lie to the police. This again demonstrates a move away from conventional approaches to murder mystery television series in which the process of the investigation was central to the story. Instead this particular show, while still containing these elements, puts its characters and their daily struggles to the forefront – making for more dramatic storytelling in my opinion.

The theme of what is good and bad, and when is an ‘evil’ act justified is continued in Episode 3. In particular, Juliet’s role in the selling of drugs to help pay for her daughter’s treatment despite being a police officer is given increased attention in this episode, and I am intrigued into how it will ultimately factor into the wider murder mystery of the young couple.

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