Grace, series 2, review: John Simm’s gloomy detective looks set to become an ITV staple

Still dealing with the repercussions of his wife’s unexplained disappearance and his decision to consult a medium on a previous case (a habit that, it transpired, he still hadn’t entirely shaken off), Grace had been gently advised to seek a post elsewhere; redemption loomed, although not without a price. In the meantime, he was struggling to bury his pain beneath everyday kindness: “There’s a cat somewhere,” he noted at a murder scene. “Will someone make sure it’s well looked after?”

It was an unobtrusive, generous lead performance from Simm, who fed Grace’s private psychodrama into the show rather than allowing it to overshadow the story. Perhaps unavoidably, the others on his team weren’t developed from the pilot with quite the same complexity (Branson was solid and supportive, Rakie Ayola’s boss empathetic but pragmatic, Craig Parkinson’s new arrival from vice helpful enough to counteract his basic crassness), although there were hints of a dysfunctional office culture that may yet unravel in future episodes.

A few other narrative strands felt underdeveloped: the bodies were, we were told more than once, clearly intended to be found but beyond a bit of cod-psychology about the killers showing off, we never really learned why; the reach of SCI seemed to expand and contract to fit the requirements of the plot; and the snapshots of dark-web culture never quite transcended the clichés of masked anarchy, distorted voices, screen bleeds and cascading numbers.

Still, the mood of the piece was exceptionally well maintained and, unusually, the action sequences were handled as tightly as the murder mystery. The final 20 minutes crammed in a race against time, firefight on the docks, car chases, hit-and-runs and a bone-juddering prang. With complex protagonists, hateful crooks and plausible stooges, Grace may not have been quite amazing, but has earned its coveted spot among ITV’s crime perennials.

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