Traces episode 3 review: When the knives come out

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

Traces episode 3 features a pointed conversation.

Traces has been all about people making rash decisions, and that’s never more on display than in episode 3 of the BritBox series, when Emma (Molly Windsor) gets threatened with a knife.

Much of the episode surrounds the old photo Emma found of her parents in bed together at Izzy Alessi’s house. Izzy’s daughter and Emma’s roommate Skye (Jamie Marie Leary) angrily points a kitchen knife at Emma and demands her BFF move out over the aforementioned bed.

Confused? So are the characters.

Daniel (Martin Compston) is the only one who talks any sense, pointing out to Emma that the only plausible reason Skye would flip out over a bed is if it contains evidence regarding Emma’s mom’s murder. Unfortunately, that’s where Traces cuts this episode off.

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So for the majority of episode 3, the audience is just watching characters running around in a heightened state of emotion, some of them making choices that are pretty ill-advised.

For example, the installment opens with Emma declaring that she’s “in love” with Daniel, despite acknowledging that she met him literally yesterday. The two later say “I love you” to one another in his car, before Daniel asks his father if he can bring Emma to dinner.

Emma might get a bit of a pass as she’s already been established as an impulsive character, but how are either of them that invested in a relationship after less than a day? It still doesn’t quite resonate, and Emma almost seems more interested in that than her mother’s murder, which gets formally re-opened by Neil (Michael Nardone).

Daniel, however, has the most interesting plot thread in Traces episode 3. Thanks to the legwork of Emma’s colleagues at SIFA, authorities charge both him and his dad with capital homicide in the nightclub fire case—asserting that their construction company’s negligence was responsible for the three deaths.

This means Vincent Regan makes his first appearance as Phil, and it’s great casting. Regan is a wonderful actor (see his love-hate performance in Strike Back), and the combination of him with Martin Compston is an intriguing matchup. Especially when their lawyer tells Daniel that he has to get his own attorney, you can just imagine these two butting heads quickly, and their dynamic is already intriguing.

It’s also just fun to see a more vulnerable Compston. In Line of Duty and even The Nest, he’s got a natural confidence where he commands the screen. Daniel is visibly scared of possibly facing jail time for three murders. This guy doesn’t know up from down at the moment, and just watched his girlfriend being threatened with a knife. He might end up having a breakdown at some point.

You can see where Traces is going here: Emma is in a torrid relationship with the prime suspect in the case she’s helping to investigate. Both of them have parent-related issues. Will they save one another and walk off into the sunset together, or bring each other down?

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Traces episode 3 is now streaming on BritBox. New episodes premiere weekly. Catch up now with a 7-day free trial.