Prime Suspect 4: The Scent of Darkness
May 15, 1995
| 105 minutes
Directed by: Paul Marcus
| Written by: Guy Hibbert
Tennison's (Helen Mirren) relationship with psychologist Patrick Schofield (Stuart Wilson) has developed into a promisingly happy affair. Determined to make a success of it, she nonetheless worries about the conflict between her job and the demands of her private life. Then a series of murders takes place, bearing a chilling resemblance to those Tennison investigated previously. Are they copycat crimes? Or was George Marlow innocent of the original murders - as he always insisted? As the ambitious DCI Mitchell casts doubt on Tennison's objectivity, an investigation begins into a possible miscarriage of justice - a task carried out with obvious relish by Tennison's old adversary Superintendent David Thorndyke. Removed from the investigation, Tennison's determination to restore her professional reputation and prove she was right the first time brings her face to face with Marlow once more. She goes into the confrontation armed with information gleaned from the senile Doris Marlow and convinced Marlow has vital clues to the latest killings. Her actions incur the wrath of Commander Traynor, who immediately suspends her from duty while Thorndyke's investigation continues. Tennison carries on her own inquiries with the secret assistance of DI Richard Haskons, whose loyalty puts his own career at stake. But as Tennison grows increasingly paranoid about her other colleagues' motives, she is badly shaken by the discovery that makes her doubt Schofield's motives. Prevented by working, possibly betrayed by her lover and haunted by the past, she is forced to re-examine her most fundamental beliefs about her life and work.
Cast: Helen Mirren (Supt. Jane Tennison), Pip Donaghy (Len Sheldon), Tim Woodward (George Marlow), Stephen Boxer (Supt. David Thorndike), Hugh Simon (Chief Inspector Finlay), Alan Leith (Supt. Howell), Stuart Wilson (Dr. Patrick Schofield), Penelope Beaumont (Dr. Elizabeth Bramwell), Christopher Ashley (Antony Bramwell), Glen Berry (Wayne), Joseph Kpobie (Al), Otis Munyangiri (Pete), Scott Neal (Geoff), Christopher Fulford (DCI Tom Mitchell), Sam Halpenny (Bill Douglas), Linda Henry (Forensic Scientist), Richard Hawley (DI Richard Haskons), David Ryall (Oscar Bream), John Benfield (Chief Supt. Kernan), Caroline Strong (D.C.Catherine Cooper), Geoffrey Church (DS Colin Blake), Marc Warren (DC Andy Dyson), Antony Byrne (DC Jason Headley), Andreas Markos (Takis Hulenkinis), Darrell D'Silva (Andreas Hulenkinis), Tanya Ronder (WPC Lawford), Stafford Gordon (Commander Trayner), Ray Fearon (Mark Whitehouse), Sadie Shimmin (Mrs. Williams), Karen Salt (Kate Matthews), Kate Ashfield (Helper), Joyce Redman (Doris Marlow), Ruth Carraway (Kelly), Elaine Lordan (Tracy), Tim Wallers (Motorist), Dermot Keaney (Raymond Harding), Thomas Craig (DS Booth)
In “The Scent of Darkness”, Tennison faces personal and professional conflicts as, for the first time in her career, she begins to doubt whether the pressure of her job and her obsessive relationship with it are worth jeopardizing another romance for. A series of murders take place bearing a chilling resemblance to those Tennison investigated in “Prime Suspect 1”. Are they copycat crimes? In their review, the Sunday Telegraph wrote, “Jane, superb as ever, demonstrates to her police team that her weaknesses do not include a need to be liked. Some fellow-feeling may be expected for DS Cromwell, another woman struggling in the teeth of the male culture, but she is brusquely told to expect ‘no special favours.” For her performance in “The Scent of Darkness”, Helen Mirren won a Primetiem Emmy Award as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special in 1996.
Of all “Prime Suspect” series, and especially of the fourth season’s three episodes, “The Scent of Darkness” is the weakest for me, for which there are two reasons: The actor for George Marlow was replaced, which just didn’t work, and the solution of the crime was obvious from the first image of the episode (take it as a spoiler). I don’t know if the solution was first used on this “Prime Suspect”, but it has been used so often in book and episodic television ever since that it just didn’t feel any surprising. It would have been nice to see John Bowe return as George Marlow, or Zoe Wanamaker as his wife Moira, who’s been incredible in the first series. No idea why neither of them has returned. That being said, “The Scent of Darkness” is still an above average episodic thriller. But the power of two long episodes with enough time to develop an interesting story is missing throughout.
Awards and Nominations for Helen Mirren
★ Primetime Emmy Award – Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special