The Escape Artist is one of those unassuming little shows where you go in thinking what you are going to see will be one thing and you come out and it has turned into something else entirely. The show which seemed like it had a straight up premise, executed it well until the end when it threw a curve ball out of the proverbial blue. And it worked, turning the show from one genre into another, or at the very least, a combination of two.
David Tennant, as always, is excellent, playing a father, a husband and a barrister. He takes a case to defend an alleged killer played by Toby Kebbell, who also does an effective and surprisingly creepy portrayal of a man about to lose it all. Will Burton, never having lost a case, succeeds in defending his new client which is when things, while never optimal were at least congenial, start to go wrong. As things get progressively worse and as bad as they can be, Burton gets an idea and it turns the show on its head.
Sometimes less is more and this series proved that coming in at only three episodes. Tennant, having starred in no less than three other series this year, is at the top of his form giving another empathetic performance. It is not as depressive as Broadchurch was, but the grief is present and he makes you feel it, as Tennant often does with his characterizations. If there is one thing you can count on, it is that Tennant will put his all into every show he is in and it more than makes up for any shortfalls a show might have, this show by the way, having none.
Sophie Okonedo does a great job as the number two lawyer to Tennant’s number one. She has something to prove and is tired of always being second best and essentially overlooked. Okonedo puts her character across with a capability that rivals Kebbell’s villain for screen presence. It is not in the same vein, as in shock value or the unpleasantness that his character protrudes, but one of competence and determination and one of strength. Her character is one almost everyone can relate to and she plays it with precision and skill.
While the series did end with a definite conclusion, it does leave a tiny bit of room for it to continue on and a second series, if done right, would be quite enjoyable. Featuring great performances from all around, a familiar story with a nice twist at the end and the always engaging David Tennant, The Escape Artist will keep you in your seat.
4.5 out of 5