'Unforgotten' Season 3, Episode 1 Recap: The Case of Hayley Reid

(Credit: Courtesy of Mainstreet Pictures for ITV and MASTERPIECE)

Unforgotten Season 3 arrives with a new cold case, now in its original six-part one-hour format.

Sunny: Well if I had to choose, I'd say Chef's Table at KFC?... No, what worries me is you think I'm joking...

Unforgotten is back on PBS, after last year's compressed Season 1 and Season 2 were a hit. As usual, our cold case this season starts when a construction site laying drainage channels digs up the bones of the long dead. This time, it's along the side of the M1 carriageway, which is going to wreak havoc on the morning commute. It's already doing so when DCI Cassie Stuart (Nicola Walker) pulls up late, having overslept due to insomnia in an empty house. Her partner, DI Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar), is already on the scene, cheerily chatting away into the phone with his new lady love while he waits.

Stuart has to admit, burying a body in the middle of the motorway is a ballsy move, but a smart one, because as long as you have a van, a hi-res jacket and a few bollards, who is going to stop and question someone working on the side of the road? The usual slow work piecing together whose body this is takes place, with first assumptions that it could be thousands of years old, then hundreds, and finally no more than 50, due to a plate on one of the bones, apparently left from a compound fracture.

The plate has a maker's mark but no serial number, identifying it as not of U.K. origin, and probably not EU either. Inquiries at hospitals turn up a doctor who recognizes these as Greek letters, the sigil of a Cypriot company that's been in operation since the 1980s. Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, and they didn't start using that logo until 1995, so we've now got a window of 1995-2003 when this child lived and died. And the body is a child, a teenage girl, between the ages of 13 and 18. Stuart has a hunch it was an English girl who broke her arm on holiday. After a slow process of calling every family with a missing teen girl in the right time frame until they find one who broke her arm while the family was in Cyprus, they finally land a match. The Hayley Reid case, disappeared the morning of January 1, 2000.

(Credit: Courtesy of Mainstreet Pictures for ITV and MASTERPIECE)

As is the show's standard format, over the course of the episode we flash to the coming suspects:

  • Dr. Tim Finch (Alex JenningsVictoria): A GP out in Hamhurst, West Sussex, Finch has an upright demeanor, but he's worried his friends and colleagues no longer want to be seen with him, due to mysterious "allegations." His wife, Carol (Amanda Root), assures him there's nothing to worry about, and insists he's beloved by all. At dinner, we learn she's the second wife, as both Finch's daughters are from his first marriage, which did not go at all well. Finch doesn't seem like the nicest guy either, considering the way he treats the restaurant staff. The "accusations," by the way, are that he verbally abused an elderly patient during a housecall. After spending only a part of 46 minutes with this character, I, for one, believe them.
  • Chris Lowe (James Fleet, Indian Summers): Chris is a down on his luck homeless man, currently living in a camper van in Bristol, with only Frankie, his dog, for companionship. He's an artist who's got a show on at a studio, and his pieces are selling, causing him to demand to be doled out £4,000 as if that's an amount anyone would keep in a desk drawer. Turns out he's going to spend it all in one place too, walking into a jeweler's to purchase an engagement band. That turns out to be for Jamila (Sasha Behar), who gets all the credit for not running screaming when he pulls the ring out of nowhere since they're not even dating. He's just helping her son, who is using art to deal with the trauma of the war-zone they escaped.
  • Peter Carr (Neil Morrissey, Grantchester): Out in North Norfolk, we meet Carr giving himself a pep talk in the car. "Find the need. Sell the want." A traveling salesman, by the looks of things, and one who's not all that good, from the way the sale goes down. He winds up making it, but for less than half he wanted. His unhappiness only doubles when his wife Maria (Indra Ové) tells him she's done waiting for "the big sale" that's always just around the corner. Considering the meeting with his boss, that's a wise choice on her part.
  • James Hollis (Kevin McNally, Downton Abbey): And in London, broadcasting live from a TV studio, there's Hollis, who looks to be the host of some Numberwang-style series, though sadly no Mitchell or Webb to be seen. He's quite popular, though it speaks to his age that the kids are asking him to sign books "To Nan," and not themselves or even their mothers. But his star power hides a troubled life. His second wife Amy (Emma Fielding) is acting as a go-between for him and his first wife Mel (Sara Stewart), as they argue over their missing son Eliot (Tom Rhys Harries). Eliot, by the way, has an excellent reason to stay away, as it turns out she's transgender, which Hollis is entirely unable to handle.

Unlike the last two seasons, we already have a connection established between our four main players before the first episode is out. While getting out of the car to meet up with his ex-wife, Hollis leaves a message for Pete, who called earlier, telling him "I miss you, big man," and suggesting "I'll call Tim, and you do Chris." So though we have no idea how these four, rather elderly men are connected to a child who disappeared on New Year's Eve 19 years ago, they do, at least, all know each other.

Meanwhile, Hayley's twin sister, Jessica (Bronagh Waugh) seems like the family member who will bear the brunt of this. The hour closes on her grief, as she realizes they've finally confirmed, after nearly twenty years, her twin is indeed gone.