thu 18/10/2018

Good Cop, Finale, BBC One | reviews, news & interviews

Good Cop, Finale, BBC One

Good Cop, Finale, BBC One

Vigilante policeman reaps karmic whirlwind in delayed conclusion

Warren Brown as John Paul Rocksavage (right) with Michael Angelis as his father Robert

It was tough luck for Good Cop that the real-life killing of two female police officers in Manchester prompted the BBC to postpone its fourth and final episode, judging that its plotline of rookie cop Amanda Morgan acting as bait for a couple of knife-wielding thugs who preyed on women was too near the knuckle. This intrusion of headline events into the progress of the drama was also somewhat paradoxical, since while Good Cop presented some of the common symptoms of the mainstream policier, these were blended with an unusual mixture of morality play and psychological speculation.

This lent the piece a broody and philosophical air, in which the nuts and bolts of policing in Liverpool (the daily station routines, banter between officers, friction between the uniformed and detective branches etc) frequently faded into the background as we zoomed in on the internal conflicts of the protagonist, John Paul Rocksavage. Perhaps giving him a name like that, which is at least one syllable too long and sounds like a hatstand for all sorts of metaphorical baggage, was writer Stephen Butchard's way of telling us that Rocksavage wasn't one Good Cop so much as a device for addressing a portfolio of questions about what the police are for and what we expect from them.

Rocksavage, played with skill and soulfulness by Warren Brown, certainly had plenty on his plate. He was looking after his terminally ill dad at home (played with Ringo Starr-esque Scouse laconicness by Michael Angelis), while catastrophically failing to come to terms with the collapse of his relationship with the ominously-named Cassandra (Aisling Loftus, pictured above). His Good Cop attributes had earned him several professional commendations - he was efficient, brave and showed plenty of initiative - but the brutal killing of his partner Andy by a bunch of low-lifes led by the loathsome Finch (a genuinely scary performance from Stephen Graham) had tipped him from being a diligent public servant into Merseyside's Dirty Harry, exacting vigilante vengeance with a gun because lumbering police bureaucracy was proving utterly unfit for the purpose of reeling in the perps.

Boosted by a cast displaying impressive strength in depth, from Kevin Harvey's Sergeant Middleton and Mark Womack's abrasive DCI Costello to Kerry Hayes's Amanda and Christine Tremarco as Rocksavage's part-time lover Justine, Good Cop lured you into feeling twinges of sympathy for Rocksavage, even if it became increasingly incredible that Costello & co still hadn't worked out that he was the one bumping off his partner's killers. Similarly implausible was the way Rocksavage smoothly juggled the frankly incompatible demands of being both an implacable assassin and a dependable form-filling copper duty-bound to follow procedure, though the strain began to tell as the body count rose. 

In this concluding instalment, police regulations meant that he was ordered give up on his high-speed pursuit of the women-attackers on their motorbike just when he was about to nudge them into a fatal accident. "What's the fucking point?" raged Rocksavage, who, aided by a tipoff from loveable car thief Kyle (Shaun Mason), duly popped out with his pistol to finish the job properly. However, this time the karmic backlash caught him at full blast as he accidentally shot the hapless Kyle, who'd blundered into his sights at precisely the wrong moment. A cynic might argue that the story had merely boiled down to the bathetic moral that murdering people, even if they are evil bastards, is a Bad Thing with dire consequences. Possibly, but a fistful of subtle performances and richly evocative use of melancholy Merseyside landscapes made Good Cop feel more substantial than that.

A cynic might argue that the story had boiled down to the bathetic moral that murdering people, even if they are evil bastards, is a Bad Thing

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