Traces episode 2 review: Conflict of interest

Traces Season 1 -- Courtesy of Des Willie/UKTV/BritBox
Traces Season 1 -- Courtesy of Des Willie/UKTV/BritBox /

Traces episode 2 review.

If you missed the first episode of Traces on BritBox, the second episode catches you up quickly and gets to the real heart of the show. Somewhat literally.

SPOILER ALERT: This review contains major spoilers for Traces episode 2.

The major development in episode 2 is that it introduces Martin Compston as Daniel—which is amusing since his character in last year’s The Nest was named Dan.

When Emma (Molly Windsor) goes out partying, she leaves her purse at the nightclub, and going back to retrieve it she runs into Daniel, whose construction firm is doing work there.

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The two have a snippy first interaction but Emma ends up calling Daniel anyway, and they meet up for a drink. After having a long conversation about their respective issues, the two sleep together.

Here’s where miniseries pacing works against a show. It’s so cliche that Traces has Emma and Daniel jumping into bed together after literally one conversation, not to mention that her reasoning for calling him back at all isn’t super-convincing.

However, the show only has a handful of episodes, so it has to move at a certain pace. And Emma getting romantically involved with Daniel is the emotional engine that beefs up the crime plot.

That’s because of the second significant reveal in this episode: Daniel’s construction firm is being suspected in the nightclub fire that Emma’s employer is investigating. Furthermore, he knows the man who committed suicide in the first episode (which caused the traffic jam that Emma was stuck in).

If Emma’s not emotionally attached to him, then there’s no potential future drama such as Is she sleeping with someone involved in three murders? Does she have to investigate her boyfriend? And so on. There’s less to mine for dramatic effect if Daniel is just an acquaintance.

Everything is better with Martin Compston in it, and his arrival automatically adds a new dimension to Traces, because already his character has layers that the others don’t. Emma still is a character we’ve seen before; the “hero who goes out and recklessly parties at night” isn’t a novel concept either. And everyone else, pushing forward on the fire investigation, are doing their jobs but we’re waiting for someone to grab our attention.

Compston does that, because he’s an actor who has that ability naturally (see: Line of Duty) and because Daniel has different directions he can go. Hopefully, he’s not going to be revealed as a bad guy in Lifetime TV-movie fashion. But there are things about him the audience wants to know more about, and while he’s endearing already, there’s also the sense that you don’t completely have a read on him.

Will Emma get in too deep with Daniel and it’ll cloud her judgment? Probably. Could he help her solve her mother’s murder? That’d be nice. Could he be involved in one or both of the crimes in question? We’ll have to keep watching to find out.

Next. What happened in Traces episode 1. dark

Traces episode 1 is now streaming on BritBox. New episodes premiere weekly.