Airing Sunday nights at 9, "DCI Banks" is the latest addition to KCET's vast library of British crime procedurals. It's well-acted and gritty, and each week the show presents a new 90-minute whodunit for you to ponder. Check back here for recaps every week.
So how does it begin?
With upholstery, actually. Getting into his van, Tony the upholsterer (James Boyland) gets jumped by a masked assailant, who takes off in the vehicle and then promptly crashes it outside Leeds. DS Cabbot (Andrea Lowe) eventually IDs the assailant as known criminal Charlie McKay (Sam Chapman), but when she checks in on him at his trailer -- or "caravan," as the Brits term it -- she finds that he's been shot to death.
And what else is going on?
You may have noticed that the title character wasn't mentioned in that paragraph. In fact, DCI Banks (Stephen Tompkinson) is off on his own non-official mission this week: hunting down the missing daughter of his superior, CS Rydell (Colin Tierney). Young Emily (Scarlett Patterson) has skipped off to London, and her laptop reveals that she's been doing some very adult things -- namely posing topless under the name "Misty." Banks searches for her, but importantly, he's not doing so as a cop -- just as a friend to the Rydells.
So does Banks find the missing lass?
Yes, rather quickly. After chatting with Ruth (Ellie Jacob), a woman who was briefly Emily's flatmate, Banks gets pointed toward Barry Clough (Terrence Maynard), a music exec with rather shady connections and currently Emily's much-older sugar daddy. When Emily gets hammered at a party, however, Barry realizes he's had enough of her and kicks her out. Conveniently, Banks shows up in time to escort Emily home -- and to hear her brag about knowing Barry's big secret.
That doesn't sound like a wise idea. How does this all turn out for young Emily?
It's really not, and Banks squires her to the safety of a hotel before returning her to her parents the next morning. Although Rydell and wife Rosalind (Ann Wilson-Jones) are pleased to have Emily home, Ruth has been lurking about, threatening Rosalind. She's also in contact with Emily, and at one rendezvous Ruth makes the curious choice to give Emily her purse, complete with her ID and a satchel of cocaine. The next morning, "Ruth" is dead -- apparently beaten to death in a nightclub toilet stall, and Banks is horrified to learn that the corpse is actually Emily's, just in possession of Ruth's ID.
You're not mentioning the upholsterer.
Cabbot's investigation continues, if less spectacularly then the A-plot. It turns out the Charlie the assailant worked at a restaurant where Tony the upholsterer had recently done work, so it's plausible they knew each other. Cabbot releases Tony in order to monitor him.
Wouldn't it be great if these two plotlines converged?
They do! Soon after his release, Tony the upholsterer heads to a storage unit. So does Niall Gilbert (Andonis Anthony), whom Emily had mentioned seeing in Leeds. Before they can exchange much aside from a few brief words, however, police burst in and arrest both Tony and Niall. At the station, it becomes clear that Tony and the late Charlie had attempted to run off with some of Barry's money, and that's what got Charlie shot. However, the question remains: How did Charlie's organization know about the carjacking? Could someone from inside the force have tipped Barry off? Cabbot acquires a list of all the police personnel who have read the case file on Tony the upholsterer's carjacking.
And how are the Rydells faring? And what is Ruth's connection with the family?
Very poorly. CS Rydell is despondent, an Rosalind has apparently left him to live at a hotel and guzzle wine. When Ruth pops up yet again, a drunken Rosalind takes a swing at her and ends up under arrest herself. Ruth refuses to press charges, however, declaring "My mum has been through enough." Rosalind reveals all: Ruth is actually her daughter, whom she gave up for adoption years ago. Ruth is jealous of Rosalind's comfortable life now, however, and had pledged to ruin Rosalind's happy family.
Ah ha! So obviously Ruth killed Emily!
Not so fast: That doesn't explain how Barry's organization was tipped off about the robbery. In fact, Rydell had checked on the file more times than a man of his position should have. If he was tipping off Clough's people and if Emily found out, that could have been her big secret... and motive enough for him to kill her. He's brought into his own station for questioning, but he won't event tolerate the notion that he could have played a role in Emily's death. In fact, he accuses Banks of sleeping with Emily when he stayed with her in the hotel, and his claim gets Banks tossed from the case.
So Banks can no longer investigate? That's quite the development, this late in the episode.
At a loss for how to continue, Banks heads to Rosalind to see if she can give him access to any evidence that could implicate her husband -- and clear Banks's own name. Ruth asks if it's true what the newspapers are saying: that Emily was somehow beaten to death inside a locked toilet stall. That's when Banks tells her an important detail yielded by the investigation. Emily only appeared to have beaten. In fact, she died of strychnine poisoning, which caused a violent seizure that made her slam about the stall, severely bruising her body. Rosalind is horrified.
Yep, during on of Ruth's threatening visits, Rosalind furtively mixed in some strychnine-based rat poison with cocaine she found in Ruth's purse. She'd had enough of Ruth's meddling and wanted to teach her a lesson. Ruth gave Emily the cocaine, however, and that's how Emily died. The irony in Rosalind trying to eliminate her unloved daughter and accidentally killing the one she loved, however, is not lost of Ruth, who laughs about it.