Flesh and Blood review: 6 burning questions from episode 1

The coastal crime drama has us hooked. Who is the victim? Who is the attacker? And can we trust anyone? Here are the six questions we want answered before the finale.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 25 February 2020 - 1.16pm
ITV Stephen Rea in Flesh and Blood

Flesh and Blood is a perfectly-timed winter warmer from ITV, pushing together a classic whodunit plot with a dark and twisted family drama.

The opening of episode one reveals a body being carried away on a stretcher with blood stains left on the rocks and a broken balcony on a beachside home.

We don’t know who the victim is, we don’t know who the attacker is and the following episode opens up numerous different pathways for the mystery to unfold.

Featuring deliciously sinister performances from Stephen Rea and Imelda Staunton, the rest of the series is going to be appointment viewing this week.

Here are our six burning questions after episode one….

1. Who is lying on the stretcher and are they dead?

The cast of Flesh and Blood smiling on the beach ITV

The most likely candidate is Vivien (Francesca Annis), a widowed mother who has just started a new relationship with the mysterious Mark (Stephen Rea).

She’s put her children’s noses out of joint with her new relationship, nosy neighbour Mary (Staunton) isn’t best pleased with the latest events in Vivien’s life and you’d be foolish to trust Mark – especially after that haunting glare in the final moment of episode one.

Other potential victims include Mark - he’s not the most popular man on the Sussex coast - or one of Vivien’s quarrelling children.

2. Who is the attacker?

Lydia Leonard in Flesh and Blood as Natalie ITV

It obviously depends on who the victim is, but Mark and Mary are the red-hot favourites at this stage. Mark’s shifty behaviour and urgency for marriage is a red flag and Mary’s statements to the police have shown her to be a serial liar.

Personal trainer Jake (Russell Tovey) has plenty of motive due to his gambling debts and we presume his sisters, boozy Helen (Claudie Blakley) and Natalie (Lydia Leonard), who is having an affair with her married boss, will become potential culprits in upcoming episodes.

Possible longshots include Helen’s disgruntled, weed-smoking husband and Jake’s client Stella (Sharon Small), who is paying him for sex.

3. Is Mark a cuddly old man or a sinister villain?

Mark lurks in the background of the cast in Flesh and Blood ITV

Mark's glare into the camera after spotting Mary spying on him would suggest that he’s not to be trusted.

Why is so keen to get Vivien to marry him? Are his romantic gestures actually a little creepy? Can we trust any man who goes rustling in people’s drawers, even if his excuse of looking for a passport appears on the surface to be valid?

And is Vivien suddenly and mysteriously collapsing in any way connected to her new man? Perhaps he was poisoning his new lover and she attacked him after discovering the truth?

4. Should we be terrified of Mary?

Imelda Staunton as Mary in Flesh and Blood ITV

The creepy next-door neighbour was the icing on the cake for Flesh and Blood as Imelda Staunton gave a delicious performance.

On one hand, Mary is lovely, caring and attentive. On the other, she's creepy and menacing - the sort of person who secretly opens your post and wears your silk dressing gown.

She seemed terrified at the idea of having to give a formal police statement if the victim doesn’t recover in hospital. That would suggest she’s hoping for the person to recover, but we already know that Mary can lie with the best of them so it could just have been part of an act for the police.

5. What is Helen’s daughter putting on social media?

Claudie Blakley as Helen in Flesh and Blood ITV

Helen’s home life is falling apart thanks to her boozing and the breakdown of her loveless marriage. She’s also got a moody teenage daughter who is living her life on social media.

Capturing a short video of her mother throwing up in the toilet, her storyline may just be a sub-plot related to Helen’s job. However, her social media habit could play into the big reveal at the end of the series – might she have caught the culprit on camera?

6. Have viewers already guessed the big twist?

Imelda Staunton as Mary in Flesh and Blood ITV

A lot of viewers pointed out one key moment in the episode, when was Vivien talking to her daughter Natalie about her father’s affair?

Natalie was asking her mother questions because she was doubting her own behaviour, sleeping with a married man and father.

Vivien said that her late husband had one affair, but she stayed with him because of their kids and that he ended it after she threatened to reveal his sordid secret to the family.

The possible big clue is that Vivien never found out the identity of the ‘other woman’. The big theory online after episode one is that Mary might have been sleeping with Terry, which means she has continually held a vendetta against Vivien.

If that’s true, we can expect an explosive week of episodes ahead.

Flesh and Blood airs at 9pm on Monday to Thursday, February 24-27.

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