The Beast Must Die finale review: Emotional thriller gives heart-wrenching lesson in grief

THE Beast Must Die came to a dramatic conclusion on BritBox yesterday (Thursday, June 17). 

After many twists and turns, we finally found out who was responsible for the hit-and-run that killed six-year-old Marty Cairns on the Isle of Wight.

WARNING: Contains major spoilers from the final episode of The Beast Must Die.

The five-part series had all the elements of a nail-biting thriller right from the word go, with a hit-and-run, a detective called to investigate, and a stormy island.

But it quickly became clear that the drama was unravelling into much more when Marty’s mother Frances Cairns (Cush Jumbo) tracked down the main suspect in the crime, wealthy patriarch George Rattery (Jared Harris), and began to plot his demise. 

The series proved to be a compelling exploration of grief, through Frances, of course, as she set out to avenge the death of her son, but also through detective Nigel Strangeways (Billy Howle), who was revealed to be suffering from PTSD after witnessing the violent death of a colleague.

The finale saw Frances fulfill her murder mission, poisoning George with tramadol in her hip flask. 

But her answer to grief, she admitted, was wrong. “I thought things would be different. I thought I’d feel different,” she told Strangeways, before drowning herself. 

In the show’s closing scenes, the detective, who had previously tried to shrug off his grief, reflected on Frances’s words and burst into tears, finally vowing to deal with his trauma.

It was a moving conclusion, and one that compensated for the slightly anticlimactic plot, in which George, and not the other passenger in the vehicle Lena, turned out to be the driver after all.

Was it the answer we wanted? It might not have delivered in terms of twists, but it certainly offered a lesson on white male privilege as George grew increasingly bitter that he was losing some of the power that saw him get away with the hit-and-run in the first place when the former detective – his pal – covered up his involvement.

“If the shoe was on the other foot, you’d be accusing me of profiling you,” he told Frances when he realised she thought he was guilty.

Cush Jumbo’s performance as the lead role has been rightly lauded, and was so multilayered as she switched between grief-stricken and unflinching in the pursuit of her son’s killer. 

Billy Howle also offered a nuanced portrayal of the suffering detective and the superb acting throughout the entire series, together with the music and filming, came together to create many compelling moments.

The Beat Must Die is available to stream in full on Britbox now.

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