“Gemma Whelan’s Compelling Portrayal Elevates The Tower’s Second Season Debut”
With the influx of countless new cop dramas, you might not distinctly remember the first season of The Tower, aired in 2021. However, amidst the multitude of options, it emerged as one of the genre’s standout offerings. Penned by Patrick Harbinson, a seasoned writer from Homeland, and infused with a subdued realism that set it apart from the likes of Line of Duty, the series held its own. Drawing inspiration from a crime novel by Kate London, a former Metropolitan Police detective, likely contributed to its authentic atmosphere.
The starring role of DS Sarah Collins was taken on by Gemma Whelan, known for her role in Game of Thrones. In the first season, DS Collins led an internal police investigation triggered by the tragic deaths of a young Libyan refugee and a policeman who plummeted from a London tower block.
Although the tower block featured only fleetingly in the second season’s opening episode, the characters were given a fresh canvas. DS Collins, now moved from internal affairs to homicide, embarked on a new chapter. Meanwhile, PC Lizzie Adama (Tahirah Sharif) returned, having been acquitted of charges from the previous season. Reunited with her former boss and lover DI Kieran Shaw (Emmett J. Scanlan), she delved into a domestic disturbance case.
Lizzie’s decision to arrest an abusive father led to unforeseen consequences, echoing through the episode. On the other hand, Sarah’s introduction to the homicide department was far from smooth. Assigned a cold case and partnered with the reluctant “Fat Elaine,” she faced a challenging start. Despite their differences, their partnership showed promise, especially with Sarah’s methodical approach standing out amidst the office’s quick-arrest culture.
While the premise might initially evoke feelings of familiarity with well-worn cop-show themes, Harbinson’s writing hinted at potential subversions. Realism anchored the narrative, warding off any concerns of formulaic storytelling. The performances added depth to the series. Tahirah Sharif, previously nominated for a BAFTA for her role in the first season, delivered an impressive portrayal of Lizzie’s vulnerability and street smarts. While Jimmy Akingbola’s character has yet to shine, it’s Whelan’s unexpected shift from comedy to drama that truly shines.
Gemma Whelan’s portrayal of Sarah brings a subdued integrity that feels both genuine and captivating. For those accustomed to vibrant and action-packed TV cops, Sarah might appear a touch solemn and unadventurous. However, Whelan’s performance lends the character a quiet yet resolute presence that is both relatable and highly engaging.
As the narrative develops, hints of Sarah’s personal life emerge, with a potential romantic interest on the horizon. Whether she’s preparing meals for one or two, Gemma Whelan’s portrayal adds depth to The Tower’s second season, making it a refreshing addition to the genre.
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