For nearly two months I’ve watched Hunted, a noisy, violent thriller, which ends next Thursday on BBC1 – and ends for good, since it’s been confirmed that there won’t be a second series. Every week I’ve felt as if I’ve been given a big sack of Lego of varying sizes and colours, which I have to shake onto the floor. Then I have to construct an elliptical, multi-level, Escher-like structure full of feints and dead ends.
But – and here’s the catch – I have to do all this using only the power of my mind to move the pieces. I can’t use my hands. I can’t examine or control. The whole thing has been chucked at me and I have to make the best of it. Go on, the writer is saying, here are the bits, now you sort it out.
Of course, I don’t mind in the least being asked to work at a television drama; I don’t need everything puréed for me beforehand into drama-pap. But, come on, work with me here. Give me at least some clue as to what’s happening and what I’m supposed to be building. Yet Hunted has repeatedly presented a seemingly random series of events – an explosion, beatings, murders, meetings between po-faced people in stark rooms.
It’s thrown me the thinnest of threads (they all, probably, have something to do with the sale of a dam in Pakistan and why someone is trying to kill crack private intelligence expert Sam Hunter) and left me to get on with it.
Foolishly I took comfort in the thought that, by the final episode, this would all be worked out and tied neatly. We will find out who murdered Sam’s mother when Sam was just a child (we’ve seen this in repeated grainy flashbacks) and we will find out why Sam has to be bumped off and by whom.
This is only fair. Every TV drama has this kind of implicit contract with its viewers – you watch and we will repay your devotion with the correct answers.
Guess what? Hunted ends in a way that didn’t just leave me scratching my head, it left me pulling out my hair. I won’t go into detail because that would be mean and spoilery to anyone who’s stuck with it thus far. But questions hang in the air like ailing moths.
It’s infuriating when dramas do this, tickle us like trout then leave us to flap about on the riverbank by not giving us proper answers to all the questions they’ve posed in the previous episodes. It’s infuriating and it’s a cheap trick to try to pique interest in a possible second series. (Hello Homeland series one, I’m looking right at you.)
It serves Hunted right that it’s died a quick death after paving the way for that hoped-for, all-will-be-explained series two. So it will never get the chance to explain what the hell went on in the first series. So what? I can live perfectly happily in joyful ignorance.