'This was exciting, well-made TV' - Red Rock killer is revealed in episode that delivers 'nice little twist'
You might not think it from my boyish good looks and/or juvenile writing, but I’m old enough (just about) to remember the cultural phenomenon that was “Who shot JR?”
For the last few months, we’ve had our own version, as TV3’s soap-slash-crime-drama Red Rock teased us with the question, “Who killed Brian?”(The station even sent out very cute promo tee-shirts, bearing a cut-out of the dead fella’s head and the slogan “I killed Brian” – little nod to those old “I shot JR” tee-shirts of the eighties, I hope.)
In tonight’s thoroughly entertaining episode, we finally discovered the killer’s identity. But I’m not sure that the Red Rock gardai did… Let me explain, beginning with a little background.
Brian McGonigle, a superbly sleazy corrupt cop played by the excellent Sean Mahon, was found guilty of statutory rape of teenager Rachel Reid. He also left her to die of a drink and drugs overdose. Real charmer, this guy.
Since then he was awaiting trial for his crimes, while trying to make amends with wife Jules and basically weasel his way back into respectable society. That didn’t go to plan – late last season, someone killed Brian, his corpse found bludgeoned in a disused building.
But who done it? The list of suspects is long.
It could have been Rachel, who thinks she’s in love with Brian and wants to run away to France. Or maybe her volcanically furious father Liam. Was it Conor, a local junkie (albeit a good-hearted one) who’s sweet on Rachel and hates Brian? Or Sharon, the determined guard who brought Brian down in the first place and is now sickened that he might skate free?
Then again, it could be scorned wife Jules – hell hath no fury, et cetera. It might be local tattooed thug Mick Moran. Or Tommy, the under-pressure father of Conor. Or even, who knows, it might be the ghost of JR Ewing himself…
So tonight’s hour-long episode opened with Det Sgt Grogan and her sidekick Garda Walsh reading the forensic evidence found at the murder site. Then straight into an extended flashback of the hours leading up to Brian’s untimely – though not wholly undeserved – demise.
Through some pretty nifty plotting, the show wove together five or six strands, planting the seeds of doubt into the viewers’ minds. Up to ten minutes from the end, when the killer was revealed, it still could have been anyone.
One minute we’re looking at Sharon seemingly about to attack Brian with a baton, the next we’re seeing Liam grab a knife and head into the night, angry and vengeful.
In the end, we found out, it was Rachel herself.
Brian refused to bring her on the lam with him and – his literally fatal error – confessed that he’d left her to die in that caravan. Heartbroken and half-mad, she clocked him in the head with a lead pipe. Dad Liam arrived shortly afterwards and persuaded her to hide the body and pretend nothing had happened.
This was good, exciting, well-made TV – you can see why BBC has snapped it up for re-broadcast – and demonstrated again what makes Red Rock a cut above the usual midweek serial. Nice little twist at the end, too, as the guards wrongly arrest Conor for murder, his fingerprints found on the weapon.
So this one isn’t put to bed yet, and the ghost of bastard Brian continues to cast a shadow over the town.