At the beginning of the episode, we are transported to Hackney, London in 1973. We see a man on crutches trudging through the rain. After the man leaves, we see the body of a young girl near where he was standing. During this time, Jane Tennison (Stefanie Martini) rides the bus towards the police station. The detectives arrive at the scene, while Jane notices an older lady being attacked by a mugger. She manages to jump off the bus and chase the man away. Nevertheless, he took her money. The older lady, Renee Bentley (Ruth Sheen), is given her inhaler. She refuses to cooperate with Jane and has no intention of pressing charges. DI Len Bradfield (Sam Reid) analyzes the crime scene. DS Spencer Gibbs (Blake Harrison) seems perplexed as to who could’ve phoned in the tip.
At the prison, Clifford Bentley (Alun Armstrong) speaks with another inmate. He asks the man about Clay. Clifford tells the man she is reconsidering their arrangement. Clifford sends the man a subtle threat, before departing. Jane finally makes it to the police station. When she enters, she is ridiculed by Sergeant Harris (Andrew Brooke) for being late. Jane is rushed up to dispatch to assist WPC Kath Morgan (Jessica Gunning). At this point, Jane learns about the murder. She admits she has never been involved in a murder case before. Harris enters and orders one of the women to bring tea and biscuit to Bradfield’s office. Jane quickly accepts the responsibility. While washing cups, she is pushed around by DC Ashton (Daniel Ezra), who also leaves his dishes behind.
She eventually gets the tea to the officers. While there, she questions the men about the murder. They confirm it appears that the woman could be an addict. Next, Harris orders Jane to interview the residents of the Kingsmead and Pembridge estates. She heads there with the team and the process begins. During the search, Jane runs into Renee once again. A man interrupts and sends Jane away with no answers. Kath meets up with Jane and reveals a resident said the victim used to hang out at the Greyhound pub. After visiting the drug dependency unit, the detectives learn the name of their victim, Julie-Ann Collins (Arabella Larssen). Kath and Jane meet with a local prostitute, Suzy (Katie Griffiths).
Suzy quickly admits that the sketch looks like Julie. The girl confirms they hadn’t seen Julie for a few weeks. They’re given a description of Julie’s potential boyfriend. Len Bradfield and the others chat about President Nixon and Watergate, while searching a local drug hideout. The girl’s boyfriend, Eddie Phillips (Jacob James Beswick), and his friend are taken into custody. Eddie admits to being her boyfriend, while also confirming they visited Oz on the hill for dope. Eddie is asked about the other bloke, who was with them. He refuses to cooperate. Fingerprints are returned from the phone kiosk near the murder scene. They do not belong to Eddie or Billy. Seconds later, Len invites Jane to tag alone for the next of kin visit.
Along the way, Jane asks Len how she should behave during the conversation with the victim’s parents. She is allowed to look at a picture of the victim. Len tells her to match the victim’s picture with family pictures in the house. The couple meets up with Mary (Nancy Carroll) and George Collins (Geoffrey Streatfeild). They quickly confirm that their daughter frequently runs away. Also, Jane looks at nearby pictures and identifies the victim. At the prison, Clifford speaks with Clay (Dorian Lough). He tells him he has a new proposal. Clay refuses and insists they’re doing the bank. He also shows Clifford Renee’s coin purse as a threat. Clay threatens to send more men after Renee next time. George is taken to the morgue. He identifies his daughter. George breaks down. He insists Julie was given everything, but she still rejected them.
That night, Jane returns home and is bombarded with questions by her mother, Joyce (Geraldine Somerville). Joyce finds birth control pills in her pocket. Jane tells her mother it isn’t a big deal. When she returns to work in the morning, Kath explains they’re going to take down a burglar. Next, Clifford’s son, David Bentley (Jay Taylor), speaks with his brother, John (Lex Shrapnel), about robbing a bank. David, who was near the murder scene, continues scouring over a newspaper article about Julie’s death. Afterwards, David visits his father at the prison. David tells his father about the mugging. Clifford insists he has taken care of it. Then, David admits John wants the plans. Eddie is interviewed again. He is asked about taking Julie to the Homerton hospital.
Eddie eventually admits he took her there. Then, he swears he saw her get into a red Jaguar. He is given a cigarette. Moments later, Eddie begins throwing up and convulsing on the floor. Spencer interrupts Jane and Kath. Len whisks Jane away to the morgue. Dr. Martin (Ian Beattie) walks the detectives through the evidence. He reveals Julie was strangled with her own bra. It is also revealed that she was beaten about the back and arms. He admits the wounds appear to be older. Renee returns home and ridicules David for smoking in the apartment. Once they arrive back at the station Len tells Jane she did well at the morgue. Inside, they’re stopped by Eddie’s mother, Nancy (Joanna Bacon). The woman reveals her son borrowed money and gave it to Julie. She admits this is the reason his leg was broken. Len quickly realizes they need to interview Eddie again.
DS Spencer quickly rushes to the hospital, but Eddie is already gone. They also search the drug hideout, but Eddie is nowhere to be found. At the station, Jane overlooks the evidence board. She pays a visit to Suzy and manages to manipulate the girl into giving up a little evidence. Suzy admits Eddie had her trapped, but says nothing else. At the end of the episode, Eddie visits Julie’s parents.
Prime Suspect 1973 Review
The pilot episode of Prime Suspect 1973 was very good. The episode had the perfect balance of humor and mystery. We can already see that Stefanie Martini is going to be a powerful lead. I was also impressed with Jacob James Beswick. He did great portraying the drug addict, without being too dramatic. While there is definitely a lot going on, things are easy to understand. We have the Bentley family preparing for a bank job as soon as their leader, Clifford, is released from prison.
The atmosphere at the police station is somewhat hostile towards the naïve Jane Tennison. Nevertheless, her tenacity will allow her to overcome that challenge and prove herself to be worthy of her place. This far, I am really digging Prime Suspect 1973. The pilot episode deserves an 8 out of 10.