Prime Suspect: Final Act, Part II. Take A Bow, DSI Tennison

I’m no Jane Tennison, but honestly I knew who the killer was before Part II began. I’m still wrestling with last night’s viewing. I felt an impending doom going into this finale, but there was an ember of hope too–DS Bill Otly was at the first AA meeting she attended, and followed her out, insisting on coffee. (Spoiler Alert)Amends were made, authentic, hard-won amends and here was a chance for deep friendship that was snatched, violently, from Tennison directly following her father’s death. She turns to the bottle, and after her father’s funeral, deepens the rift with her only living relatives, knocks over a chair, walks to her car and for once, determines, keys in hand, not to drive. Instead she takes a cab to Penny’s school. I groaned out loud and spoke to the screen, beseeching her to wake up. She is blinded by Penny’s shiny youth, and she tells Penny that she does see herself in Penny. And she smiles, in love with this girl and all the possibility she embodies.

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She does wake up, but it’s almost too late, and until the end she holds out hope for Penny.

Tennison struggles mightily in this last episode, wrestling with what has been sacrificed in order to live her work. And yet, in the end, it is the work that aids in her re-centering, and articulating her alcoholism and addressing it. And coming to terms with the life she chose, the abortion she had, and who she is. She does catch the killer even if she causes more than one major cock-up in the search.

The ending is redemptive. The poor murdered girl’s father, one who refers to getting out of a bed as “a victory” and making a cuppa tea another, comes back, and shakes her hand, and then wraps his other hand around her’s so her hand is fully embraced. We sense the depth of his gratitude and understand deeply that this is why Jane has sacrificed so much–for the victims and for their families.

She readies herself for retirement in classic Tennison manner by straightening her coat and wrapping her scarf jauntily, her face stoic. Only days sober, she walks out of the building with her dancer’s posture and measured steps, passing the retirement party in her honor, the merriment made small by the largesse of what she has just shared with the victim’s father. She passes the male stripper ordered for the occasion and gives him no more than a sidelong glance before she shuts her car door and prepares to drive off into her future.  I knew it was over, and yet I wanted the camera to follow her, to know for certain what comes next and hoping for some semblance of contentment and peace.


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