Trigger Point’s six-episode run all takes place over a few weeks in the sweltering British summer. In the first episode, Vicky McClure’s Lana “Wash” Washington saw her friend and mentor Nut (Adrian Lester) killed, and came dangerously close to meeting her own maker. By the latest episode, the penultimate instalment of the series, she has not only seen a bunch of other people die and dodged a sequence of near misses, but witnessed, up close, her brother Billy (Ewan Mitchell) struggling to escape from a bomb-rigged car and ultimately being blown to what his post-mortem presumably described as “smithereens”. So I say it now for HR executives everywhere: this woman has seen and suffered too much, she should be on mandatory compassionate leave.
Anyway, that would ruin the drama. In fact, Wash has managed to wangle her way back from suspension and onto the case. Yes, she’s still grieving – we know this because she’s staring at photos of Billy while a violin-heavy Max Richteresque score tugs at our heartstrings – but she’s the senior ExPo officer, and she’ll be damned if she lets John (Kris Hitchen) lead the investigation.
Mourning after Bill
Still, we’re led to suspect she might have a touch of the ol’ PTSD. At home, she smashes out the G&Ts, dancing around her living room to EDM wearing an oversized men’s shirt. You can’t help but feel that the producers thought this scene might be clipped, GIFed and reposted around the internet with “me on a Saturday night” captions. “You’re a good ExPo, and a great person,” Warren Brown’s shifty mechanic Karl reassures her, but it’s clear that it’s going to take more than the first 10 minutes of the episode for her to get over the death of her brother.
Naturally, as television has taught me on numerous occasions, she mitigates her grief by doubling down on her work. The police, led by Ralph Ineson’s Commander Bregman, have cleared Billy of any pre-knowledge of the car bomb, but he was obviously mixed up with the wrong people. “He was easily led, naïve,” Lana tells them. But with Billy out of the picture, a new suspect has to emerge, another white supremacist, this time called Frank. Billy had, before his untimely end, been sending encrypted messages to F-R-A-N-K, which is almost, but not at all, an anagram of K-A-R-L.
A condition of Lana’s return to the front line is that she receives counselling, which seems sensible (and also inadvertently reminiscent of the BBC’s Martin Freeman-led The Responder). Her psychologist is played by Green Wing’s Pippa Haywood (not her fault, but I cannot see her without expecting Alan Statham to emerge from a cupboard in his boxer shorts). “I see you’ve ticked no to every question,” she observes of Lana’s responses to a questionnaire. “You’re going to have to trust me and you’re going to have to be honest about how you’re feeling.” Good luck with that; I think what Lana’s experienced this summer is going to require more than a few hours with occupational health.
Wash’s dirty laundry
Regular readers of these recaps will know that I find Lana’s desire to be part of a love triangle involving a possible suspect (Karl) and the primary investigating officer (Mark Stanley’s DI Youngblood) inexplicable. I am proved particularly right in this episode, when she lies to police about her whereabouts at the time of Billy’s demise, presumably because she doesn’t want Youngblood to know she was actually macking on another, slightly less greasy, man. But there are no flies on DI Thom Youngblood and he confronts Lana about this indiscretion, leading her to, vaguely, confess. “Does that mean it’s over between us?” he asks, pitiably, though, as with asking her to move in, he doesn’t wait for her answer before walking off.
I doubt anyone at this point is watching Trigger Point for its insipid love story. Instead, they’re watching for what comes next, as a police announcement precedes the ad break by announcing: “Security alert at South London University!” It allows just enough to make a cup of tea before Lana, John and Eric Shango’s Danny are disarming a bomb in an auditorium where a radio host, played (for about five-seconds) by Miles Jupp, has been convening a Question Time-style programme for the upcoming by-election (which has been a low-level plot point since the first episode).
The bomb has two mobile phones strapped to it, which , apparently, means there will be one call to arm it and another to trigger it. “Eyeballs on anyone with two mobile phones,” a police officer shouts, nonsensically. But eyeballs – namely the eyeballs of a police sniper – do alight on a man with two mobile phones, a man who looks conveniently like the white supremacist Frank, who they already suspect. One call arms the bomb, but before the second call is made, the sniper “neutralises” (as the euphemism goes) the suspect, Frank, with a shot to the head.
“Well, the pressure’s off,” says John, suspiciously. He then exits the theatre, pulls out a phone, fiddles around for a second before making a call that very much seems to trigger the bomb. Lana manages to escape the building, reaching the famous “hard cover”, and sees John sprinting away from the scene, phone in hand. Call me a narrative cynic but I don’t think there are many things that would make me quite as convinced of a character’s innocence as the sight of them fleeing the scene of a crime three-quarters of the way through the fifth episode of a six-part series. But Trigger Point has one more chapter to prove me wrong.
And the end of this week’s episode teases that conclusion. Thanks to sketchy John’s trusty London A-Z, the gang find another potential target: the campaign headquarters of the progressive alliance, a tactical grouping of Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens. They hastily evacuate the candidate, Salima Saxton’s Ayesha Campbell-Khan (I like to think she’s the lovechild of Ming Campbell and Sadiq Khan) and locate a car, filled to bursting with heavy explosives. To make matters worse, someone has been tinkering with the gas in every house on the street and there seem to be more explosives under all the boilers. This, it seems, is the big one; the boom that ITV has been budgeting for.
That all leaves Trigger Point finely poised. John, who I’ve never seriously suspected, is looking pretty guilty and is on the lamb. Billy is dead. Much as the internet might want to believe that Thom Youngblood is the bomber, I find that highly unconvincing. Which pretty much just leaves Karl. Or maybe the biggest final act twist will be that, for the first time in the history of British Sunday-night TV, there will be no final act twist. Only one week to find out.