The Crash Series 1 Episode 2 (BBC3) Review

After the explosive finale of last week’s The Crash premiere, the question on viewer’s lips before this conclusion was definitely ‘who will survive, and what will be left of them?’ The answer is not many and not much, since three of the seven members of the group have been struck down by the horrific road accident we saw in the first episode, and the remaining four are having more than a little trouble adjusting to their torn and ravaged lives in the aftermath.

I wasn’t entirely smitten by the first episode’s choice to spend 30-minutes within a flashback, but the time spent getting to know these characters was essential to this second half of the story. Rachel, especially, has been mentally damaged by her experiences, and we wouldn’t have seen the impact of the crash had we not already seen her larger than life persona beforehand. It also gives the hour some handy flashbacks to use when the survivors are remembering their fallen friends, which works well on a visual level.

But the focus here is firmly on Tom and his guilt over what happened. I thought it was brave of the show to fly past easy answers in favour of a dash of ambiguous reality, as we’re as unsure as Tom as to why he decided to overtake the car when he did. His actions are essentially what led to the accident, but we’re assured, as he is by his friends and family, that it was, in fact, just a tragic accident. No matter what everyone thinks of him, the criminal charges against him and Ethan, the two behind the wheel, are eventually dropped.

The first episode covered six months in time, but here we get through nine more. We don’t get to fly past the initial shock and grief from parents of family, though, and spend lots of time both at the hospital and at various homes once people start returning to their daily lives. This is grim and upsetting stuff, but has a weight to it that compels you to keep watching. As said, we spend a good chunk of time getting to know these people last week, and we can thus more easily understand and share in the parents’ individual losses.

But there were some things that didn’t work for me. The ghost of Kate, for one, diminished the disbelief and shock that were being portrayed elsewhere. We had a scene of Kate’s parents, surrounded by her friends, remembering their daughter for the bright, caring girl they had hoped she was, so I didn’t think there was any real need to visually represent this. It was only Rachel who saw the ghostly apparition, too, when I thought, if they were going to go in that direction, it might have been better to spread it to other characters, too.

For example, why have a scene in which Tom begs to see her, and not grant his wish once personal redemption was found?

But that personal redemption took a whole hour of anguish and agitated grief to achieve, and I have to take my hat off to actor Lewis Rainer, who had the most difficult job to do here. It’s a performance that would be hard to criticise even if it hadn’t hit all of the right notes, since few of us can even imagine the intensity of emotions he had to emote. He looks to be in as much physical pain as emotional pain. Believing yourself to be responsible for any deaths would be hard enough, but two of those deaths being your brother and your fiancé would be going that bit further.

Assuming that a lot of the darker moments here were taken from real-life accounts, moments spent with Tom’s mother were particularly hard to watch. She lost two sons in the incident, and the one still alive has to live with this fact for the rest of his life. There is no easy resolution to these events, as I’m sure the research team discovered when collecting case studies, and the episode did a good job of displaying this while still offering a feel-good ending of sorts for us to take away.

As a television program aimed at teaching young people an important lesson, there was nothing particularly new or innovative about The Crash. But, crucially, it still proved itself as a worthwhile endeavour for BBC3 simply because of the facts and statistics behind it. Did the desired demographic watch? I really hope so, since it managed to be both an entertaining series about a tight-knit group of teens and an important vessel for a message worth getting out there. It wasn’t an easy 2-hour watch, but it certainly felt worthwhile in the end.

What did you think of The Crash? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.