Writer Patrick Harbinson has left Stateside to come and create a brand-new thriller for ITV. Fearless features Helen McCrory (Peaky Blinders, Penny Dreadful) as a human rights lawyer who sets out to prove the innocence of convicted killer Kevin Russell (Sam Swainsbury). But as she attempts to re-open up his case, it appears that there are powerful forces at work eager to stop her from doing so.
The title credits to Fearless spell out in no uncertain terms that this is a political thriller. A little girl (presumably a young Emma) walks along a wall adorned with images from political history. Maggie Thatcher, Tony Blair and Donald Trump are all here, as are some familiar slogans from down the years. The credits finish with the girl teetering on the edge of a tall brick structure – a precarious precipice that certainly feels like a pertinent symbol. As McCrory’s character begins to re-investigate Russell’s case, not all is as it seems. It becomes clear that if she is going to dig deeper into this thing, she could be putting herself in real danger. A web of connections quickly spins out on screen of those involved in one way or another. Some we come to know quickly; others are a passing glance. Who is the woman Stateside for instance? And what has Michael Gambon got to do with any of this? Like any great thriller, Fearless is throwing up as many questions as answers.
Harbinson has had such success with Homeland, it is no surprise that we see some familiar tropes from it here: from the use of handheld cameras to the cross seat shots of Emma whilst she’s driving. In Fearless, we also get a sense of similar themes emerging to that in the latest series of Homeland. Here, we saw those in authority setting out to retain their power at all costs. It appears that Emma might unleash a similar response if initial reactions to her re-examination of Russell’s case are anything to go by. It will be interesting to see her response as the pressure (presumably) heats up over the next few weeks. She has a ruthless Carrie Mathieson streak to her, but it appears (for the moment at least) to be much less scatty and frantic. McCrory plays her as a woman who keeps her emotions under control, channeling them into her work with a deeply subtle ferocity. She is an instantly likeable character – a champion of justice and a supporter of the oppressed. McCrory has landed a plum role.
Fearless has the makings of a fascinating, edge-of-your-seat drama. There was enough revelation and intrigue in this debut episode to want to return for more. McCrory is fabulous in the lead role, and the themes of injustice and corruption mean that Emma already looks set to be the next heroine of the small screen. Let’s hope that’s the case.
Fearless is on ITV at 9pm, Monday from 12th June 2017.
Featured Image (C) ITV