ACCUSED “Frankie’s Story” Review

Accused | Mackenzie Crook
ACCUSED “Frankie’s Story” Season 1 Episode 2 [UK] – This week’s ACCUSED is Frankie, a young soldier on a murder charge awaiting the jury’s verdict. As he sits in his cell we see his story in the second of six written by Jimmy McGovern.

Why do you join the Army? Duty, honour, pride? Frankie Nash and Peter McShane didn’t. They joined to escape a two year stretch for breaking a landlord’s jaw in a petty pub brawl, an attempt to show the judge they were men of character. One ends up putting a bullet in his own brain and the other sentenced to life for murder.

Accused is a powerful examination of ordinary young men sent to war and asked to do extraordinary things. A story of loyalty, honour and redemption.

When Peter lands a solid right hook in the pub and the two best friends run off giggling like school kids you find yourself giggling with them. Foolish yes but youthful moments of stupidity like that are what being young is all about. The innocence of that rebellion is shattered by the rattle of machine guns in Afghanistan as a terrified Peter cowers, shaking, unable to stand to return fire.

The catalyst in this story is Corporal Buckley (Mackenzie Crook) and his utter disgust at this cowardice. Renamed the Unit ‘Bitch’ Peter is constantly degraded and ridiculed by Buckley, shunned by everyone else.

Crook is best known for playing goofy, comical sidekicks but is menacing as gruff voiced Corporal Buckley. More Maximus than Gareth from The Office he is truly terrifying, prowling this Unit like a mad dictator.

What I found most affecting in Accused was how the idea of honour in war was re-examined. Distraught from seeing Frankie (under order from Buckley) ‘piss’ on his bed, a broken Peter rests the metal of a rifle against his teeth and pulls the trigger.

Buckley’s mantra is that a Unit ‘Bitch’ is needed to show what can happen. His calm recite of “I’d go as far to say McShane’s role was crucial, you should be very proud of him,” was chillingly composed. The slightly built Crook was faultless as the war hardened nutcase.

Frankie the new ‘Bitch’ when subjected to the same treatment which ended his friend’s life, strikes first by twisting a knife into Buckley’s chest.

The scene where Frankie confesses to Peter’s Dad that it was his betrayal that pushed Peter to end it brought me to tears. Standing in front of his Son’s guilt racked friend repeating softly “It’s OK,” was subtle and brilliant. Redemption was sought and granted by the only man who could understand. The decision of the jury was now meaningless.

Desperation to keep the shame of suicide from Peter’s Mother is why Frankie, in a final act of true bravery, omits the suicide from his defence sealing his fate. As cheers ring out a life sentence is passed. One man sacrificing his honour for the memory of his friend’s.

Not always easy to watch I thought Accused: Frankie’s Story was an extremely affecting examination of loyalty and duty in War which left me reeling. What did you think of the second Accused? How are you finding the series? Let me know in the comment box below!