Increasingly, in certain crime dramas, there’s an emphasis on shock and surprise first and foremost when it comes to eventually revealing the murderer. It’s debatable how effective this is; certainly, there’s a strong argument to be made that revealing the murderer shouldn’t be surprising at all, but rather the moment when everything becomes suddenly very obvious, satisfying because it makes sense in hindsight. Innocent is very much in the former camp – with little set up or efforts to establish the possibility in prior episodes, the final part of the series hinges on the revelation that David’s brother Phil actually murdered his wife, mainly out of jealousy. To say it doesn’t quite jive with what we’ve seen so far is an understatement; Innocent had established, up to this point, that Phil had spent the last seven years campaigning to have David released from prison, at the expense of his marriage and home. It’s not that the two facts are mutually exclusive, exactly, but Innocent makes very little effort to join the ideas together.
It’s the sort of thing that rarely wins audience support; there’s little doubt, certainly, that the majority of the Innocent twitter hashtag once the episode ends will be complaints to that effect. Prioritizing the surprise over fidelity to and consistency with steps taken to reach the reveal dull the emotional impact of the moment; if the emotional impact doesn’t ring true, it doesn’t matter how shocking it’s meant to be. Shock is cheap – genuine engagement requires something more.
I find myself writing stuff like this about crime dramas a lot. The last time, I think, was that Cormoran Strike thing (or CB Strike, as it’s inexplicably called in America – where does the B come from?) but it comes up often enough; Broadchurch was quite the offender back when it was on, actually.
Admittedly, this might be a personal thing, where I’m just not a fan of twist endings exactly; more likely, though, it’s that a lot of these twist endings are bad at being twist endings. Frustratingly I don’t think I ever quite get these articles right, in terms of expressing what I’m getting at; I think I need to go and look up, like, Aristolean unities so I know how to articulate what I mean, assuming those are what I think they are at least.