*Note: Because of the nature of this review, there are spoilers concerning the conclusion of the final episode. If you want a very brief non-spoiler point of view, I’ll say it’s worth watching but sags a little in the middle.
Alas that’s the way TV networks operate nowadays and the results are mixed. A show like Line of Duty can support a story told over multiple seasons because there’s a background plot that runs throughout, but each season focuses on a specific storyline or character. Meanwhile there are so many other examples – and Under the Dome is the one that immediately springs to mind – where you can just see that the story doesn’t have enough about it to justify another run, and yet it gets one because it makes financial sense for the network. It’s a case of financial reward over creative satisfaction.
Having polished off Save Me last night, I fear it falls in the second category.
This is a show about Nelly, a guy whose 13-year-old daughter – who he hasn’t seen for years – is kidnapped. Initially he’s suspected of being responsible, but it turns out pretty quickly that someone who was pretending to be him contacted her on the internet and lured her into a trap. Because of the very specific information about Nelly’s life used to by the kidnapper to attract her, Nelly realises that it must be someone he knows from his local pub who must be responsible, and takes on the burden of solving the crime.
Now if I was going to write that for maximum creative effect, it would be told from beginning to end in one go. Nelly would find the person responsible and then from there find Jody (the daughter) either alive or dead.
As it turns out, Nelly does work out the culprit and even gets as far as finding out where Jody’s being held captive by a local paedophile ring, but in the end he finds another girl instead.
It just seemed like such a flat ending.
Over the course of the six episodes, Save Me was mostly about Lenny and his relationships with characters around him, and it did a very good job of giving those characters a back-story and a potential motive for wanting to kidnap Jody. And though some of the characters were a bit odd – Jody’s mother played by Suranne Jones isn’t written as being particularly bothered about her kidnapping and is more interested in getting pissed and having sex with Lenny behind her partner’s back – they all get put under the microscope.
Now that we know who kidnapped her – even though the reveal came thanks the disappointing Terry Nation style trope of “Hold on a minute; the only way you’d know that piece of information is if you are the kidnapper” – and more to the point now that we know who didn’t kidnap her, those characters seem largely redundant going forward.
And there’s the problem. Save Me ends on a note of the viewer feeling short-changed by the ending, and concerned that to have the story resolved one way or the other, they’ll have to endure a second season that doesn’t appear to have the legs to make it worth watching.
That being said, if you want to live for the moment and enjoy it for what it is now, the first season is mostly an entertaining watch up until the ending, although it does slow down to a crawl in episode three.