Season 2 of Criminal UK has arrived on Netflix. The show which first came out last year and depicts the interrogation process in a metropolitan police station. (Last time we also saw Criminal France, Criminal Germany and Criminal Spain.) The series depicts what happens after you are arrested and the detectives come in for the interview. The main goal is not just to get the facts, but to get a confession. It takes me back to the time when Jane Tennison always got her man or woman to confess. In the US we have Law and Order with Detective Benson and Carussi bringing the criminals to confess.
In episode 2, Kit Harrington, late of Game of Thrones, guest stars as Alex an estate agent. He is already in the interview room when the episode begins. He is looking at the detectives and straight into the camera to give his side of the story. He talks about going out to a pub with his co workers and staying out till past midnight when the pub turns into a night club. He sets up the story of the crime by revealing that he and his co workers typically go out for drinks after work on a Friday. A typical "happy hour" as we would have in the states. After drinking for a while, two of the co workers, Andy and Sarah decide to stay on till the pub becomes a club and that they continue drinking. He tells the story matter of factly and maintains a sense of control by retelling it from his recollection with out any injections from the detectives.
Eventually, the drunken trio decide to head home. Andy is dropped off on the way and Sarah and Alex continue. At some point Sarah suggests that she and Alex go back to his place to continue to drink and discuss office matters. At this point in the story, Alex does everything to paint himself as a victim of what is about to occur. He even asks the female detective to write down the fact that it was Sarah's idea to go back to his place.
Admitting that he finds Sarah attractive he claims that she sat next to him on the couch, that she kissed him and that it was her idea to go to the bedroom for sex. They sex he says was not good because they were both drunk. When he woke up Sarah was gone. They did not communicate over the weekend and he saw her at work on Monday and it was not until the police showed up that he knew anything was wrong. He feels confident because this was all Sarah's idea and what happened was consensual.
It is because of his attitude and the fact the he controls the interview yet insisting the events of that night were beyond his control that one tends not to believe him. He is very cavalier in his attitude towards women; a fact that is not lost on the female detective who after being told a second time that she is to write down that this was Sarah's idea, bristles at the idea of being considered a "secretary".
The entire soliloquy seems to set this up to look like another powerful young boss who thinks he is attractive to all the females he meets and that he can have any one of them anytime he wants. He even points to the fact that he called an Uber for Sarah and she refused to take it and stayed at his place to have consensual sex.
The way Kit plays it with his obvious confidence and self control we can almost predict what is going to happen. He only breaks for a moment as he looks disconcerted over the fact that this allegation will ruin his life. The female detective flat out states that she does not believe him.
At this point it becomes a mind game between the male detective and Alex while the female detective and female solicitor take the background. Of course, what would Criminal UK be if it did not show us the inner workings of the art of interrogation. The police decide to bulk up the medical records of Sarah to make Alex think there is more evidence against him. This is where we begin to see some cracks in Alex's confidence. He is clearly not sure what the medical report will show.
At this point we are told Alex has been arrested for rape. It is now the turn of the detectives to present Sarah's case. They put up a picture on the big screen of Sarah's flat who suggested Sarah for the sales position in Alex's office. She happens to be remarkably close to Sarah, as they communicate by text several times a day.
Their text messages are put on the big screen. Apparently, after Alex and Sarah kissed, she went into the bathroom to text an angry emoji with the words, "he kissed me". They being to shake Alex as they ask what she meant by the angry emoji. He speculates that she may have been mad because the kiss was not good because they were both drunk. The fact is he is flailing for answers , not knowing what was on Sarah's mind that night.
His wise solicitor interjects that she would like 5 minutes with her client. The detectives offer them another room to speak in since the interrogation room is monitored. The solicitor says they will talk there, they have nothing to hide. The solicitor takes a motherly tone with Alex, as he sits looking downtrodden that he will be brought to court. She explains that the medical records if they show vaginal bruising will indicate rape and if there is no bruising that may indicate consent. However, neither circumstance will be enough to prove rape since he has already stated that they had consensual sex.
There is an odd incident as this happens. The female solicitor begins to cry. It feels for just a moment as if she is over taken by emotion. There are tears running down her face as she pats them away. Even Alex takes note and asks if she if ok. It is never addressed as to why she cries. I think the audience is left to surmise that this kind of thing occurs so often in the workplace to women that even the solicitor may have experienced it.
Outside the interrogation room the detectives look further into the text messages between Sarah and her flat mate and discover some new information. The detectives follow up as Alex is asked if he might have held Sarah down or tied her up during their encounter. Once again away from the interrogation room; the detectives discuss whether a woman knows that a man is a potential rapist. The female detective admits that she likes a man who is assertive; but sometimes an assertive man; takes what he wants. The question therefore remains did Alex, a clearly assertive man, just take what he wanted from Sarah?
At the end of the episode we never learn for sure if their encounter was consensual. What we get is a turning on its head of the #metoo scenario. Alex explains that Sarah did not get the promotion she wanted and perhaps that is why she went to the police to claim rape. However, learning the new information the police tell Alex they will not be taking the case further and that he is free to leave.
Once again this story takes a turn. Instead of Alex walking out of the interrogation room relief that he can go; he insists on speaking with the detectives further. This is where Kit is at his best. He is not arrogant anymore; he is not confident. Instead he is persistent. He explains that his life has been upset beyond repair by these allegations and the arrest. He demands to know what the police are going to do for him. He finds it will be difficult to go back to work and the life he led before the allegation.
He is simply told the police do not have enough evidence to pursue the charges. He is never given an explanation of what happened however, the audience is. He is simply left to stew in his hurt and anger. He is finally removed from the interrogation room by force. His pleas to be released and unhanded follow him down the hall as he goes out of camera.
I found Kit's performance in this scene to be immensely powerful. What does happen to the guy who is falsely accused? Is he ever truly looked upon as innocent? Is he forever seen as someone who just "wriggled" or bought his way out of the allegation? We should always believe the victim, but maybe this episode teaches us that there maybe more than one victim when all is said and done.