Series 20 of Silent Witness is a steady build of improvement even if it does put Nikki through the false jeopardy of mortal peril once again
“What you did is overstep your role”
It is difficult to quite put my finger on it but Series 20 of Silent Witness does show a steady build in quality for the reconfigured Lyell Centre team (or maybe it is just me getting used to the changed dynamic). Nikki and Jack as co-leads, Thomas and Clarissa very much as supporting and the shift to wider forensic science bedding in well.
What I do particularly like is the way in which story strands increasingly wind around each other. So whilst there’s issues like people-trafficking and twisted internet buddies going rogue, there’s also a pleasing complexity to stories which fold in seemingly unconnected cases and/or crimes from the past, to harrowing effect in both ‘Discovery’ and ‘Remembrance’.
It’s a little while since the show went abroad so I suppose I can forgive a 20th anniversary special of sorts that takes us off to Mexico (albeit filmed in Tenerife). But once again, there’s a terrible white saviour, Anglocentric bent to the writing that really sticks in the craw (Nikki and Jack’s refusal to speak any Spanish just one of the heinous crimes) and putting Nikki in danger of dying again just doesn’t work (though I wonder if at the time, people thought it might be happening…).
Top guest appearances
- Gerald Kyd’s morally complex Yusef Hamed is a fascinating presence at the heart of people-trafficking story ‘Identity’
- ‘Discovery’ is full of faces I love – Dominic Rowan, Anneika Rose, Steve John Shepherd, but any chance to see Saskia Reeves is one to seize happily, her DS Steele a flinty but flirty counterpart for Thomas
- In a series full of harrowing depictions of grieving parents, few have been quite as affecting as Sarah Smart’s Ali, truly distraught at how the events of ‘Remembrance’ shake out
- The first appearance of Clarissa’s husband Max is neatly done, Daniel Weyman’s sprightly digital forensics guy a nice counterpart for the Lyell’s own data supremo
- Raquel Cassidy is usually good value for money and once you get over her heavily Hispanic accent as Mexican doctor Eva Vasquez, she’s a compelling presence in series closer ‘Awakening’