The ninth and final series of Waking the Dead works well as a brutal finale even if it never quite addresses Boyd’s key issues
“Get the collar and the ‘how’ doesn’t matter”
Series 9 proved to be Waking the Dead’s last and I’d say it goes out on a good’un. Stacey Roca’s DS Howard suffers the familiar fate of so many of the show’s non-OGs, hustled out off-screen. But her replacement is actually cleverly worked, by not being a replacement at all. Instead, Eva Birthistle’s Detective Superintendent Sarah Cavendish is transferred in from Counter-Terrorism and with the subject of Boyd’s retirement brought up from the off, there’s a completely different dynamic in the team for once.
And I really liked it, particularly with the brutal honesty with which Cavendish diagnoses the screwed-up relationships of the cold case team and the almost-Stockholm Syndrome nature of everyone’s defence of Boyd’s behaviour, even when it is threatening their lives and careers (btw whatever happened to Spencer working for CID?). But in the way of these things, she is made to suffer for this (and how!) as the show careers towards the kind of final scene you just know is on its way.
This final series also boasts a cracking level of guest appearances once again, working their way through a brutal set of stories. Systemic child abuse, security service secrets, serial murders, Grace’s past once again…it’s an impressive array of writing that rarely feels like it is retreading old ground which is no mean feat after nearly a decade. And it always remains highly watchable, making it a good candidate for a rewatch.
Top guest appearances
- The chilling tone of the series is set in opener ‘Harbinger’ and the always excellent Cecilia Noble is naturally excellent as nurse-with-a-secret Una
- ‘Care’ maintains the bleak outlook and as a prisoner of his nightmares, Steve John Stepherd’s Max is superb
- Anna Chancellor is another one of those actors who can seemingly do no wrong as Tory politician Lucy, she’s good value for money in ‘Solidarity’
- The multi-layered ‘Conviction’ has much to commend it, not least Tom Goodman-Hill’s Tristan
- And as the show’s last big bad in ‘Waterloo’, Paul McGann’s Assistant Chief Commissioner Anthony Nicholson is a worthy final adversary