Oh no. No, no, no. This won’t do. I don’t mind when dramas leave one or two things hanging in the air, when there are still one or two mysteries unsolved, when an audience is – on one view, flatteringly – left to draw a conclusion or two for itself. But there’s a thin line between doing that and just not bothering to write a decent conclusion, and Hidden was firmly on the wrong side of that line. After weeks of Wentworth threatening to come out with staggering, blood-chilling revelations about Worsley, we never get to hear them – it turns out that poor old Wentworth was a patsy, to be assassinated on Morpeth’s instructions giving him an unconvincing excuse to launch a coup. In a cynical piece of bet-hedging Wentworth is described as “another plausible, ambitious PR man with a trust fund and a pretty wife” (i.e. David Cameron), then comes out with a Tony Blair quote about the hand of history. Ooh, how daringly satirical! Politicians, eh? They’re nothing like as clever as scriptwriters.
Meantime there was no explanation for how or why Harry’s brother came to be alive after all – even if it was no surprise – nor for who was intervening at key moments to keep Harry alive (possibly his brother?). Nor, for that matter, why the expert sharpshooter who killed Fountain couldn’t have reloaded and shot again to get Gina. Nor what Elspeth was up to, or what the business with Harry’s son was, or what Fountain had to do with the plot, or who was behind the helpdesk, or why baguette lady was killed, or… oh, to hell with it. I don’t really care. If this was an attempt to get a second season they can shove it.
The weakest episode so far, I thought. Harry and Gina are in Paris, where Harry tries it on despite the complete absence of chemistry between them. Gina then sneaks back to London, leaving Harry to trail after her and take charge of preposterous plot developments: a few minutes on Google and a mental leap prompted by a bottle of Cockburn’s, and he and Frank are totally on to something. So he phones someone his brother put in a wheelchair years ago, and invites himself round to be shot at. Meantime, his son’s in jail; is there going to be a point to this? As for evil billionaire Morpeth – well, it’s Armstrong and Miller’s “Kill Them” character, isn’t it? The Westminster intrigue didn’t get much further forward either, with smug-Anna-Chancellor-backed politician 1 still plotting against smug-non-Anna-Chancellor-backed politician 2, and no hint as to why we should care, since ex facie one’s an incompetent crook and the other’s being propelled into office by a killer plutocrat. Maybe next week’s final episode will tie it all together nicely.
I’m not sure we’re that much further forward after this episode, because for every plot development there’s a fair amount of wheel-spinning. So, on the one hand, Gina’s off to Paris and hanging around in the sort of deserted factory which only really exists to give bad guys somewhere to chase people around; and in return we’ve now seen the murder of baguette lady and Harry as getaway driver several times. David Suchet as Sir Nigel Fountain – Gina’s father? – added a little class, although judging from his bad-guy-face-to-camera he’s clearly up to no good. And links have now started to emerge between the political plot and the Venn one: it’s all down to evil billionaire Morpeth, by the look of things.
Other gripes: the conceit with the “IT helpdesk” directing the murderers was a little too fond of itself, and consequently overused. As for Gina: why doesn’t someone just check with the Law Society to find out if she’s a lawyer? You’d think Harry would know that; except, of course, she’d then be a little less mysterious, and we can’t have that. And Anna Chancellor’s still not on screen enough. Despite all that, though, there’s just enough about Hidden to keep me watching.
I haven’t been keeping count, but what feels like the BBC’s tenth conspiracy drama this year stars Philip Glenister as shabby-round-the-edges solicitor Harry Venn. The pre-publicity suggested that Venn is a womanizer, although as he only sleeps with one woman this week – and his ex-wife at that – we’ll need to take that on trust for now. Oh, and he snorts half a line of charlie at one point, just to drive the characterization home.
Anyway, he’s in his office with his name on the door when a mysterious woman with a mysterious unplaceable foreign accent wanders in claiming to be a solicitor herself, and offering him money to trace someone she needs as a witness. All she needs is a T-shirt with “Femme Fatale” on it and we’d know where we are. Harry’s intrigued, of course, and tries to find out more about her but, this being noir, she remains mysterious.
As does the rest of the plot. Something about Harry’s involvement in a shooting years ago, his brother, and a Dutch woman who gets killed in France (carrying a baguette, of course, in case we missed les hints Francais). There’s also a big political subplot with an apparently dodgy Prime Minister, against a background of riots, trying to form a new coalition while a smiling rival waits in the wings. More than that I really couldn’t say. Perhaps Venn will draw us a diagram. Heh. See what I did there?
After years of refusing to touch the stuff I’ve been giving British drama a go recently, and you know what? I was right. It’s not bad, but it’s not as good as the American shows. From the ones I’ve seen over the last couple of years, Hidden takes conspiracy (The Shadow Line, The Hour, Exile), Philip Glenister playing loutish (Ashes To Ashes), a scene-stealing Anna Chancellor (The Hour), moves them around a bit, and comes up with something both familiar and utterly baffling. Now that I’ve started I’ll probably keep watching, but if you haven’t seen it yet I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it.