Trigger Point, episode 2 recap: ITV thriller becomes a whodun-Nut

In the closing moments of the series debut, Wash discovered her partner’s arm in the rubble after an explosion at a London estate. But there’s no rest for bomb disposal officers, and within a matter of days she’s back on the grind – armed with those trusty ‘snips’

Trigger Point trailer

British television shows have become so obsessed with killing off their biggest names that it no longer feels like a surprise. The effect is a reverse-Psycho, where the minute someone you recognise from a long-running and acclaimed drama appears onscreen, you expect them to meet a swift and sticky end. And, for Trigger Point, their Janet Leigh is Adrian Lester (of Olivier Award-winning stage work or Hustle fame, depending on the height of your brow) whose seasoned expo officer Joel Nutkin (aka Nut), got blown to, quite literal, pieces, in the climax of the series premiere.

The second episode deals with the aftermath. Vicky McClure’s Lana “Wash” Washington is back on active duty just four days after the blast, and the rest of her colleagues are trying to come to terms with what happened on the Whitehaven estate. A dummy bomb with multiple triggers, a suspicious vehicle, a man strapped into a suicide vest, and, finally, a van packed with high-grade explosives. There’s more confusion and misdirection than a Raymond Chandler novel, or, you know, Line of Duty.

Whodun-Nut

Back at HQ, Wash is called in to give evidence to a committee led by Ralph Ineson’s Commander Bregman. He’s concerned with the politics of the situation (the “Deptford South by-election” seems to be on his mind as much as the 18 people dead in a terror attack) and if Ineson’s voice gets any deeper then it will simply devolve into Tibetan throat singing. This scene also introduces us to Sonia Reeves (After Life’s Kerry Godliman) from the Bomb Data Centre, who will be providing the scientific jargon and required translations this series. I also want to raise an objection here: they had a proper metal nameplate made up for Lana, despite the fact that her testimony lasted about five minutes. Seems like a waste of the Met’s resources.

The investigators are split on the prime suspects in the attack. Andy Phelan (the bebombed hostage from the first episode) is exposed as a white nationalist (I had found it suspicious that his wife claimed to recognise spoken Arabic while in the process of being bound, trussed and stuffed under the bed), raising the possibility of an Islamist revenge attack. Or, conversely, an attempt by Phelan and the shadowy English Flag – whose leaderappears on ITV News later in the episode, railing against Islam (a very questionable booking from those fictional producers) – to implicate their ideological nemeses. Wash thinks the device was too sophisticated for Isis, but the committee conclude that their working hypothesis is “a targeted attack by an Islamist group against an active white supremacist”. I wonder how long that will take to get proven wrong!

One Nut in the grave

But for all that the investigation continues apace, the emotional heart of the episode is Nut’s funeral. He’s given a full military send-off (“When I pop my clogs I want something just like that,” someone remarks at the pub later; “Mate you’ll be lucky to get a few cans and a f***ing park bench,” his friend replies) and Wash is a pallbearer. Outside the church, Nut’s estranged wife Jaz (Evelyn Duah) sobbingly tells Wash that “it was always ‘my team needs me’ with Nut… like we didn’t”. The ghost of Nut is going to haunt this series, just as the editors are going to milk Lester’s single episode appearance for as many spectral flashbacks as possible.

The rowdy beer-and-tequila-fuelled wake serves as a chance for the show to introduce some characters who will undoubtedly prove important over the course of the series. First, Wash’s little brother Billy (“mini Wash” as one character refers to him) played by Ewan Mitchell, who is pouting his way through career limbo, having been rejected twice from the army. Wash’s dad (Kevin Eldon) calls him “mardy” at the start of the scene, receiving a reprimand from his daughter; but just a few minutes later she’s caught the familial criticism bug. “Don’t be mardy,” she tells Billy, as he smarts from her colleague’s teasing. The repeated use of the word “mardy” should make it clear, if it were not already, that, though the show is set in a very indeterminate version of London, the Washingtons are Northern.

As is Warren Brown’s Karl. Unnervingly, Brown is also appearing in the BBC’s counter-programmed cop drama, The Responder, so if you’re watching them simultaneously try and keep the characters distinct. Nice guy Karl has some vaguely dark past (“I’ve been where you are,” he tells Wash as she stumbles out of the pub in a grieving fugue; “Where’s that? The gutter?” she quips, despite being too drunk to stand a minute ago) and now sticks to lime and soda. It’s clear that he’s going to emerge as a love interest, to wrestle for Wash’s limited capacity for affection with Mark Stanley’s DI Thom Youngblood. After all, what’s a drama about bomb disposal without a bit of sexual jealousy?

OCD Terrorists

Hungover post-funeral, Wash is called to examine the baddies’ lair, after their van shows up outside a seemingly derelict building. It’s a curiosity of the show that, in situations fraught with the possible presence of IEDs, the police are only sometimes remotely cautious. On this occasion, armed police charge the building and almost trigger a booby trap. Nice one, clowns. Mercifully, the site is salvaged, allowing Wash and Sonia to inspect the premises. “Looks like we’ve found the bomb factory,” Wash says, like someone who’s stepped into a Build-a-Bear Workshop. Examination of the scene corroborates Wash’s suspicions that they’re dealing with something more sophisticated than Islamist terror. “Have you ever seen a bomb factory that neat and tidy? What have we got? OCD terrorists?” she observes, though the discovery of a suicide detonator serves as something of a fly in her ointment.

‘Youngblood has the slickly sexless aura of someone on a JP Morgan grad scheme’

Meanwhile, the relationship between Wash and Youngblood (why do all the cops in this show sound like they’ve walked off the set of a Coen brothers’ movie?) continues in spite of teetotaller Karl’s advances. In the first episode, Youngblood was mysteriously referred to as “dreamy” by a not-yet-dead Nut. It’s sad to think that one of the last things he ever said was an outright lie: Youngblood, in fact, has the slickly sexless aura of someone on a JP Morgan grad scheme. And he habitually calls her “darling” which, in 2022, is a sure sign he’s going to turn out to be a bad guy. Their relationship will continue to be tested in the crucible of a bombing spree, not least because, by the close of this episode, Youngblood and Washington are both on the scene of another bombcident. This time it’s at a mosque, which serves as an effective middle finger to everyone who was on Team Let’s-Blame-Islamism.

Anyone who’s seen the 2008 Academy Award winner The Hurt Locker knows that bomb disposal is fundamentally tense. Actually, you probably don’t need any prior viewings to realise that. The dramatic stakes within any room are drastically increased by the presence of a bomb with a ticking timer. It’s not subtle, but it is effective. In the episode’s climax, Wash faces off against a bagged nail bomb, attached to a door and controlled by a fancy mercury trigger that will detonate at the slightest movement. To complicate matters, there’s a screaming hostage right next to her as she gets her trusty “snips” out (my count of the references to “snips” was just two for this episode, dangerously down on last week). “Please be quiet, I’m begging you,” she implores him, and speaks for the audience too.

Any drama about explosive devices has to play its hand delicately. Not every bomb can be safely disposed of, or the game will feel rigged. Equally, not every bomb can go boom, or we’ll run out of characters (and ITV will run out of budget). The first episode ended with an earth-shattering, Nut-nuking bang; this one ends with a sweaty Wash, scalpel in hand, staring at the sort of wilting plastic bag you’d get from an offie on the Brixton road. And just like drinking the 200ml bottle of Glen’s you’d usually find at the bottom, it’s a dangerous situation but she should just about make it through to next week. Trigger Point has already given us its Psycho moment, now it’s time to get down to the nuts and bolts (and nails and other assorted industrial shrapnel) of the whodunit.

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