Warning: this Trigger Point review contains spoilers.
For all its ‘oh shit Sarge’ tension, there’s a serene simplicity to new ITV thriller Trigger Point. Episode one takes place in a single location, in a single time period, with two main characters so far exhibiting no signs of the post-traumatic flashback syndrome that sadly afflicts so many other prime-time TV leads. Joel ‘Nut’ Nutkins and Lana ‘Wash’ Washington have work to do, and they do it, while taking regular breaks to rehydrate with cans of energy drink. For these two bomb disposal operatives, A1 intelligence of a bomb factory on a South London housing estate is just another day on the job.
Sadly, it’s not a day that ends well, or even with everybody’s limbs and torso in the same postcode, but until the fateful moment that Adrian Lester’s Nut is blown to pieces, these two take everything in their stride.
Vicky McClure cuts a particularly composed figure as Wash, a character so cool that she puts her sunglasses on twice inside the episode’s first two minutes. Wash is someone you can count on – a banter-y bronco with more grit in her spiky little ponytail than you’ve got in your whole body. There’s even more grit in her ponytail by the end of the hour, when she’s covered in debris from the vanful of explosives that killed her partner. Which organised terror cell is responsible, is there a leak in the team, and can Wash stop them? So it begins.
What begins is an enjoyably tense series of near misses leading up to the shock disposal of Adrian Lester. First, Nut and Wash demonstrate their warm-hearted double act on a traumatised mother and child who say they’ve been tied up by terrorists. Snip, phew, next. Then they discover a sophisticated toilet-exploding device in the world’s untidiest loo and we all wet ourselves when they almost detonate said device by flicking a light switch (good job this is an ITV drama, it needs the ad breaks for the sake of our heart rates). Snip, phew, next.
Next, and most entertainingly of all, the robot is deployed to wobble its way towards a car rigged with explosives (only after Wash has performed the essential first step of shining a torch under the car and saying “Shiiiit”). But! The robot malfunctions – sabotage?! – meaning Wash has to approach on foot, which she bloody does because she’s Wash and no lacklustre C-3PO is going to stop her from doing her job. There’s a surprise in the car boot in the form of a trussed-up, bomb-wrapped Andy Phelan, husband and father to the traumatised residents of the exploding-toilet flat. Thus kicks off a top sequence in which Andy squirms like a toddler standing barefoot on a dirty nappy and Wash repeatedly shouts at him to for god’s sake, stay the bloody hell still. Snip, phew, next. Unfortunately, just when everybody’s figuratively loosening their ties and arguing about whose round it is, what’s next is the big bang and the big bye-bye to Nut.
Killing off a star in ep one may be a tradition in the Line of Duty family (Trigger Point comes from Jed Mercurio’s production company) but it feels a little careless in a drama with so few name characters to begin with. There had better be a heavy duty replacement for Lester waiting in the wings, because Wash’s chief personality trait so far is that she had a matching tattoo with her dead pal. When most new dramas load up viewers like overburdened pack horses with introduction after introduction, Trigger Point’s streamlined approach risks it feeling underpopulated.
Underpopulated and potentially underfilled too. While there can never be too many TV shows in which we hear the phrase “They’re deploying the robot,” bomb squads are usually bit players in these dramas. Not investigators, their role is specific and limited; they come in for a scene, cut the blue wire and leave. Focusing an entire counter-terrorism operation around them might box the plot in unnecessarily. That said, it didn’t hurt The Hurt Locker.
The need to expand Wash’s access to the forthcoming investigation is presumably why the plot has romantically paired her up with Counter-Terrorism Command officer Thom Youngblood (Mark Stanley), who was last seen scooping her up from the wreckage. He joins nervy Danny (Eric Shango), narky Robins (Cal MacAninch) and proportionately concerned DI Samira Desai (Manjinder Virk) in the supporting cast. Is one of them secretly working for the terrorist cell? What’s the significance of the ‘1912’ carved into the airing cupboard of the exploding toilet flat? Questions for the remaining five episodes to answer in this diverting, well-cast thriller.
Trigger Point continues next Sunday the 30th of January at 9pm on ITV1.