Criminal UK’s episode 3 has a twist that elevates this section of the series. Netflix continues bringing original films and TV series, and one of its latest releases is Criminal, a police procedural anthology series set across four countries (France, Germany, Spain, UK), with three episodes per country, in local languages. All sections follow the same premise, being a “cat-and-mouse drama” that centers on the “intense mental conflict between detectives and suspects”.
Criminal UK has a recurrent cast formed by Katherine Kelly, Nicholas Pinnock, Lee Ingleby, and Mark Stanley, with David Tennant, Hayley Atwell, and Youssef Kerkour as guest stars. The series is set in a police interrogation room in London, with each episode focusing on a different case: “Edgar” is a race against the clock with Dr. Edgar Fallon, accused of sexually assaulting and killing his stepdaughter. “Stacey” follows the team trying to get information from Stacey Doyle, who is being accused of attempted murder of her brother-in-law, but some details don’t add up; “Jay” focuses on the case of Jay Muthassin, a truck driver accused of transporting illegal immigrants.
Although each case has its own twist related to the suspects, “Jay” has a different type of twist that ends up breaking the premise of the series and makes future seasons all the more interesting. Here’s what happens at the end of Criminal UK’s episode 3 and how it changes the series for the better.
Criminal UK’s Twist Explained
After detective inspector Paul Ottager (Pinnock) shouts at Jay to reveal where he left the truck, he leaves the room and detective constable Hugo Duffy (Stanley) stays with Jay, who decides to ask for a solicitor (Michael Walker, played by Kevin Eldon). After pointing out that the team only had a CMS report but no actual evidence that the truck was transporting immigrants, Walker asks when was the last time Jay was offered a drink - this seemingly simple question is what triggers the story’s twist.
Hugo explains Jay (and Walker) can have a drink whenever they desire, telling them there’s a vending machine outside the room, to which Walker replies that he didn’t see him (or anyone) using the machine while he waited outside, yet Hugo’s mug is full. Hugo says he has his own flask as he doesn’t like the coffee from the machine, and offers him some to prove that the mug does in fact contain coffee. However, at the room behind the mirror, Paul tries some of the coffee in the flask and confirms that it’s not exactly coffee, and Hugo is called back in the room. The detectives then try to come up with a solution, and it’s decided that Hugo will be sent back as he’s the one with most knowledge on the case, and they’ll take care of his situation later.
Hugo heads back to the room and tells them the truth about the mug, how he spent half the night up reading everything related to the case, and how he has managed to sneak alcohol into his job, thus becoming an addiction. He also mentions that his boss, detective Natalie Hobbs (Kelly), knew about it, and even brought another detective (Kyle Petit, played by Shubham Saraf) to take his place under the disguise of “training”. This moment of weakness and sincerity from Hugo helps him connect with Jay, prompting him to tell everything he knows, including the location of the truck (which turned out to be empty, but he was still charged with smuggling). The episode ends with everyone, except Natalie and Tony (Ingleby), leaving, with these two getting rid of the “evidence” (aka Hugo’s coffee) and Tony asking Natalie out for a drink.
How Criminal UK’s Twist Changes The Show
In this type of show, viewers expect detectives to play by the rules, to be an example of good conduct and impeccable morals, as they are the ones going after (and unmasking) criminals of all types, but that’s not always the case. Although the previous episodes showed some glimpses of drama within the team, it was nothing as big or relevant as Hugo’s alcoholism, which not only put the case at risk but the entire team as well.
Hugo’s problem shifts focus from the suspect to him and the entire team, especially after his confession about Natalie knowing what he was doing, which is made worse by the presence of external agents who were there to follow the case. Natalie had been presented as the leader of the team who always plays by the rules - however, this episode showed that even she can break or bend the rules if it’s to save the team and help those in it. Towards the end of the story, she even goes to the interrogation room to get rid of the evidence, and even though she’s doing so to protect Hugo and the team, it’s still not the most honest move, and will make viewers wonder if they can trust her not only in future episodes but in the previous ones as well.
Why Criminal’s Twist Is So Good
Unlike other series, Criminal UK’s twist isn’t forced and plays organically into the story. Hugo’s secret being revealed is also what helps Jay come clean about the truck because the writers built a connection between detective and suspect - they both felt trapped and couldn’t find a way out of their respective situations, and Hugo’s reveal was what broke them free. Hugo was very aware of how his problem was going to affect the team, their credibility, and their future, which is why he doesn’t start the recording, leaving no evidence of his drinking at work and Natalie knowing about it. Even though he’s in a very vulnerable position, he paid attention to everything and made sure his team didn’t go down with him.
There were subtle hints at episode 3’s twist on the previous episodes: there was a weird focus (though not so much after watching the last episode) on Edgar Fallon (David Tennant) pouring himself some water during interrogation in episode 1, and all those in the interrogation room in episode 2 had drinks. There were also brief moments where the camera focused on Hugo’s mug, with him even preventing Petit from taking it in episode 2. The writers were telling the audience that there was something, although very hidden, going on, and that details as simple or even obvious as a mug or a paper cup were as important as the suspects’ body language. Through all this, Criminal UK not only featured a successful plot twist with consequences that will be felt in future episodes but also a good lesson on narrative, both written and visual.