Kiri episode two: Tobi goes in search of the truth as Miriam cracks

Wednesday, 17th January 2018, 21:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th January 2018, 22:37 pm

*Spoilers up to and including episode two of Kiri*

One of the best things about Jack Thorne's Kiri so far has been its ability to keep us guessing.

But if there's one thing that's certain in this intriguing four-part mini-series, it's that the mystery of what happened to nine-year-old Kiri Akindele - and why - is going to get a whole lot more complicated.

Last week's opener seemed to set us up for a fairly straightforward, if gripping, examination of the decision by Sarah Lancashire's social worker Miriam to allow Kiri an unsupervised visit to her grandparents, which led to the girl being abducted by her father Nate.

Miriam (Sarah Lancashire), left, gets involved in a shouting match with her manager (Photo: Channel 4)

Granted, Miriam's downwards spiral in the wake of Kiri's death does continue apace in part two.

She's given a black eye in an unprovoked street attack, she lashes out at her manager ("if there are sides could I swap sides because I hate this f***ing side") and, to top it all, she's told by a vet that her ever-present old dog is probably dying.

But part two really shifts the focus on to Kiri's paternal grandfather Tobi. Following the discovery of Kiri's body on Bristol Downs, he goes in search of his son Nate - the prime suspect, and still very much at-large.

Delving deeper into the Akindele story

We learn more about the Akindele family during Tobi's desperate search, which takes him deep into the Bristolian underworld. First he goes to a grim drug den (although Nate isn't there, it does highlight the young man's problems) and then he calls in at his ex-wife, who recalls how Kiri's birth mother lost her own battle with drugs.

It's when Tobi finally tracks down his son at a seedy brothel that much more of the truth is revealed.

At first, Nate is just surprised ("Everyone is looking for me and it's you that finds me!") but soon father and son come to blows, brawling to the point of exhaustion. Energy spent, they have a frank conversation in which Nate denies killing Kiri ("she got upset and ran off") and claims that he did love her.

Nate (Paapa Essiedu) denies killing Kiri (Photo: Channel 4)

It's a powerful scene, switching from ferocious violence to cards-on-the-table honesty. We learn that Tobi too has a checkered history, as Nate accuses him of being a heavy drinking philanderer in his younger days. Like father, like son, evidently.

Lucian Msamati is superb as the emotionally riven Tobi, who wants to do right by both his granddaughter and his son. After our introduction to the sharp-edged but temper-prone Miriam last week, Tobi is another intricately realised character from screenwriter Thorne, complete with his own dark past and personal flaws.

The racial divide

Inevitably, the drama's undercurrent of racial angst bubbles to the surface, as Tobi goes to visit the Warners, who now seem more concerned with their media profile than finding the truth about Kiri.

They have a tense exchange over the funeral plans (Tobi wants a Christian ceremony, they are atheists), and Alice eventually blurts out her own inner conflict: "I hate that this has become about race!"

Tobi's story comes to the fore in Kiri episode two (Photo: Channel 4)

She's not alone. Miriam finds the media camped outside her front door as the tragedy makes the newspaper front pages and, pushed to breaking point, she lets rip at the assembled journalists.

"What I did was right!" she exclaims, in reference to that fateful decision to let Kiri learn more about her cultural background.

A reporter replies: "Have you had anything to drink today?"

With two parts left, and the Warner family looking ever more suspect (why was an item of Kiri's clothing in Si's bedroom bin?), there are certainly more twists and turns left in this compelling social drama.

Kiri continues next Wednesday at 9pm on Channel 4. Catch up on All4