Gritty BBC crime drama/soap opera Prisoner’s Wives is back for another run, and its all change this time round. Only two cases remain, middle-aged mom Harriett, whose son Gavin is in jail, and gangster’s wife Francesca, who gets the most compelling storyline here. It’s smart to carry over characters from the first series just to tie the two together (something done with increasing rarity on British telly), but there’s also some intriguing new blood to get our teeth into.
First we have Aisling, the young daughter of a petty criminal who wants her dad to get out of prison before she gets married in six weeks. Her fiancé isn’t so keen on his potential father-in-law, he keeps getting into trouble and reducing his chances of getting out on time, and the rest of the wedding guests are unaware of the kind of family they’re marrying into. This is all very nice, and I guess that it’ll develop into something a little more compelling over the next three weeks, but it’s definitely the least interesting plot thread of the first episode.
The second new character is Kim, of a happy middle-class family whose husband somehow ends up arrested for the sexual assault of the young boy next door. There’s a troubling class issue at work here, since it’s strongly insinuated that the Jeremy Kyle-esque working class family next door are actually making it all up over some unreasonable vendetta. Surely people aren’t this evil? Two years of previous harassment are mentioned, and there’s a little bit of a ruckus at the football game earlier in the day, but the fact that it all seems so unreasonable points to Mick being guilty as charged.
People’s favorite storyline from the first series was definitely that of Francesca and Paul, who return here as the gang war escalates. The opening minutes of the series take place as the family home is torched by an unknown figure, and the next thing Francesca knows she’s in the back of a car with a murdered gangster on her lap. This scene was a real shocker – grisly and disturbing – and kudos to Prisoner’s Wives for stepping it up a notch for the second round. This pairing aren’t on good terms right now, and the police are keeping a close eye on them both.
Harriett’s still got her head in the sand, as Gavin’s latest scheme has him converting to Islam in the search for acceptance and safety inside. We get the impression that if he doesn’t, his new besties aren’t going to react too kindly, and the feeling is confirmed at the end when they, and Gavin, go for Mick. It’s not an easy life for an accused pedophile in jail, and this probably isn’t the last spot of bother he’s going to get into. Meanwhile, with no clue as to what’s really going on with her son, Harriett has begun a relationship with his pastor, conflict of interest be damned.
All in all, this was a solid comeback for a show that has never quite nailed down its tone or what audience it’s going for. There’s a nice mix of ages and backgrounds for anyone to relate to, however, and there’s enough promise here to keep me coming back for more over the next three weeks. What did you think of the episode? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.