Unforgotten series 3, episode 3 recap – DCI Stuart spots the weakest link

As the four amigos get their alibis straight, Cassie and Sunny press on with their questioning and some interesting patterns begin to emerge

The victim

Carefully plotting his own redemption arc, former DCI John Bentley is a big help talking Cassie’s crew through the when-and-where of the initial investigation. On the night of Hayley’s disappearance we have a burglary at the local church, a black car driving erratically in terrible weather and a final sighting of Hayley just after midnight. Cassie is terribly grateful and looks as if she’d quite like to take down a few of Bentley’s particulars herself. Eyes front, DCI Stuart.

None of this affects the self-styled four amigos though, if you believe their accounts. The Spinney millennium do was a decidedly tepid affair, with the kids in bed by nine and the adults following them right after Big Ben rang in the new century. Praise the Lord then for Mel Hollis, who remembers a very different night – a coke-fuelled booze-up with a public meltdown by Chris, the men disappearing to the pub and the women lamenting the woeful state of their marriages into the wee hours.

The problem is that even Mel has everyone back indoors by about midnight, leaving the investigation back at square one. But sterling digging from Fran places the last confirmed sighting of Hayley over an hour earlier at 11pm and Cassie knows exactly what that means. “We now have four men, variously pissed, drugged up, possibly mentally unstable and somewhere in Middenham at exactly the same time as Hayley.” You said it, guv. It looks as if the four amigos will now have to conquer their personal El Guapo.

Doctor Tim Finch

Common sense prevails at the General Medical Council and Alison Pinion’s complaint is dismissed. Tim’s relief is shortlived, though, as, upon his return, he has to field Cassie and Sunny’s questions. Hayley’s photo prompts a flashback to some kind of car trouble but, forewarned by Jamie’s phone call, he denies any memory of her from the millennium. He gets a little twitchy when the breakdown of his first marriage is mentioned, but generally gives the impression of someone who won’t crack easily.

Chris Lowe

Jamila’s curiosity about her new fiance gives us some much-needed backstory on Chris. The successful CEO of his own ad agency, he was undone by a combination of poor money management and undiagnosed bipolar disorder. Debt, divorce and homelessness swiftly followed. Jamila is nothing but understanding – all that’s in the past now. Cassie begs to differ. She’s more of a “the past is right now” girl and even her most gentle questioning sends him into a tailspin. She offers the sympathetic smile of a seasoned plod who knows the weakest link when she sees it.

Peter Carr

Pete’s boss Mark pays a home visit to chase up the £3,000 he stole from Mr Salthouse. Pete pays him back in cash (seemingly provided by James), apologising for the simple oversight. Mark explains to Maria how chancers such as Pete were known in the industry as FILTH (“Failed In London, Tried Hong Kong”). The encounter is fraught and it seems to be the final straw for Maria. She wants to bail on the marriage, telling him “this just isn’t what I thought I was buying”, as if she was mis-sold PPI or something. The hits keep coming for Pete when Sunny shows up to interview him. Hayley’s photo brings him back to a boozy night with a crying girl of east-Asian appearance. Surprisingly, he admits to recognising Hayley from the Spinney. He flew back to Hong Kong immediately after New Year and claims to have read nothing of the case at the time. For a practised liar, he’s really not very good at it.

James Hollis

James has the biggest reputation and the most to lose, so it’s not surprising that he’s the one coordinating the alibis among the four suspects. His flashback is to blood on someone’s hands – his? Whatever his involvement was in Middenham, it is clear James has a conscience. He agonises loudly over which particular choice he made that ruined his child’s life, leading us to wonder what exactly Eliot saw at that millennium gathering.

Notes and observations

  • A theme is emerging on the media’s role in a case like this. Internet begrudgers troll Hayley’s memorial page, newspaper reports lead to Adrian Mullery’s suspension and blogger Sandra Rayworth doubles down with another hit piece on the case, with James Hollis next in her sights.
  • The four suspects all met at Finchley school, within half a mile of where Hayley’s remains were found. If that’s a coincidence it’s a pretty big one.
  • “I’m pretty sure the identical twins bit is a big part of this, wrong girl got bumped I think!” dcshambles in the comments with an intriguing angle.
  • Jake hits up Adrian Mullery for a quick chat and gets a Shakespearean monologue in return. The CliffsNotes version is that DCI John Bentley is a wrongun, the police in general are scum and really, really thick. It has zero evidentiary value but we can only applaud the refreshing candour.

Who killed Hayley? How does the church robbery fit into things? Exactly how thick are the police? Please let me know below.


James Donaghy

The GuardianTramp

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