Rachel Bellwoar reviews Dublin Murders…
You can’t take back something illegal and the moment Detective Cassie Maddox (Sarah Greene) backs down on passing on their new case, Dublin Murders sets itself up for a fall.
Anything that relies on not getting caught is a bad plan, and while Cassie’s been able to keep her partner, Detective Rob Reilly’s, secret, this time there’s substance to the damage it could do.
Reilly (Killian Scott) might not be involved in 13-year-old, Katy Devlin’s, murder, but he does have a connection to the three kids who went missing in the 80’s. Since Katy (Amy Macken) was found in the same woods where they disappeared, it’s possible the two cases could be related. The people who live in the area think so and, if nothing else, that makes Reilly’s participation untenable.
To stay with the show, then, you have to accept that they go through with it anyway, and that’s a tall order, given the decision basically seals their fate. The Shield was another detective series that opened with a decision that haunted the Strike Team members for the rest of the show, but The Shield didn’t revolve around a single case and could fluctuate, in how much attention they were under. Dublin Murders doesn’t have that option, but it also doesn’t harbor any illusions about Reilly’s ability to function on the job. It’s too personal and he crosses the line.
This disinterest in protecting the main characters is one of the show’s biggest strengths. Just because you can sympathize doesn’t mean their actions are defensible and while the plot takes some leaps (starting with its premise) there’s some reckoning towards the end, especially on Cassie’s part, where it’s not about accepting the show’s reality but the show pulling itself back on the reins in a self-reflective way that’s extremely fascinating.
Both stars put in incredible performances (when Scott’s voice changes during a sleepwalking scene it cuts right to the heart of Reilly’s soul) and, while the show isn’t like Twin Peaks overall, the Devlins do take after the Palmers quite a bit, in the way they process grief and trauma.
As the one with a personal stake in figuring out Katie’s murderer, it wouldn’t have been surprising if Dublin Murders had spent more time on Reilly than Cassie but that’s not the case at all. Episode four goes deep into her childhood and an undercover case she was working on before she joined the murder team reopens. On the one hand, both characters should be fleshed out and bringing up Cassie’s undercover work does that. On the other, while there are some weak connections between the two cases (and it does impact Cassie and Reilly in that it forces them to work alone), it feels like a distraction from the main investigation. Plot-wise it’s tenuous but for character development its eventually effective.
Visually the show stands out, too, with the opening credits establishing the show’s investment in mirror images. It’s all in the details and whether it’s the occasional ant appearing on Katie’s corpse or the first outfit Rosalind Devlin buys for herself, after disobeying her father’s restrictions, the show gets how important these particulars are. Anymore supernatural elements can feel forced, but the references to Irish mythology in Dublin Murders add to the show’s sense of place without taking it into fantasy. Dublin Murders knows how to stretch a point, but the performances are exquisite.
Dublin Murders is available on DVD starting November 18th in the UK from Acorn.