Hollington Drive, episode 2, review: let’s play designer kitchen Cluedo, as this thriller heats up
Bang goes my theory. My guess after the opening episode of Hollington Drive (ITV) was that 10-year-old Alex hadn’t gone missing in the woods at all. He was just lost somewhere in Anna Maxwell Martin’s spacious kitchen. Just when everyone had given up hope, she’d suddenly find him curled up asleep in her KitchenAid's mixing bowl or hiding behind her collection of River Café cookbooks.
No such luck, sadly. Suburban sisters Theresa (Maxwell Martin) and Helen (Rachael Stirling) were still trying to untangle their children’s conflicting stories when the titular “cool-de-sac” was rocked by news that the boy’s body had been found. This was now a murder-mystery, albeit one with aspirational, architectural trimmings.
The police investigation duly intensified, with DS Parks (the reliably excellent Jim Howick) grilling the yummy mummies and laddy daddies of “The Drive”. Curtains twitched. The gossip grapevine hummed.
Theresa’s son Ben (Fraser Holmes) and his cousin Eva (Amelie Bea Smith) claimed they’d chanced across classmate Alex’s corpse and tried to revive him with CPR. Worried that touching him would make them look guilty (spoiler: it very much did), they “hid” his body in a nearby pond. “Am I going to prison?” sobbed Ben. Only for crimes against acting, sonny.
Eva’s subtly different account implicated Ben, rather than herself. Naturally, both mothers were inclined to believe their own little darlings – a dramatically effective and all too plausible development. The sisters were soon having tense conflabs in the dead of night. Because that never looks suspicious in the aftermath of a murder. Theresa promptly made herself look even shadier by sneaking off to prod around in the pond.
Meanwhile, headmistress Helen found bullying messages from both cousins on Alex’s school iPad. As viewers gasped at her gall, she deleted Eva’s but left Ben’s. Stalking around with her sharp bob and belted mac, Helen was beginning to resemble a Disney villainess. That’s even before you factor in her affair with the dead boy’s father Gareth (Jonas Armstrong).
Was Theresa willing to lie to protect her son? Hell yes. She dreamed up a generic pervert, complete with long coat, who she alleged had been loitering suspiciously near children. Lo and behold, the description matched a local photographer with dodgy material on his hard drive. What are the chances?
Just when Theresa couldn’t make herself much less sympathetic, she snapped at a barista in her café that she’d “sack him quicker than he could say ‘avocado toast’”. Get you, hipster Gordon Ramsay.
However, a neat late twist turned the plot on its head. Deeply unprofessionally, DS Parks let slip that Alex had been killed on Saturday night, not Sunday morning. The children can’t have been implicated because they were tucked up safely in bed. “A man’s getting arrested and we were wrong,” said the aghast Theresa. It seems this isn’t an “evil kid” thriller, it’s a Broadchurch-style whodunit.
I have a sneaking feeling that Theresa’s annoying brother-in-law Eddie (Ken Nwosu) or Helen’s dour partner David (Peter McDonald) might be involved, mainly because they don’t serve much purpose otherwise. Eddie also finished off Theresa’s almond milk, leaving her nothing to pour over her organic muesli. Surely the sign of a wrong’un. Did armchair sleuths also spot how grieving mother Jean (Jodie McNee) spelt it “police liason” with a missing “i”? Call me a grammar pedant but that’s surely some kind of criminal offence.
The four-parter has now reached its midway mark. Like many viewers, I’ll wager, I’m not unreservedly enjoying Hollington Drive but I’ll probably stick around to see what happens. Hopefully the big denouement will involve those bifold doors and that ostentatious hose-tap. Welcome to Cluedo: Designer Kitchen Edition.