The second season of the BBC’s Bloodlands is racing off with exactly the same thrills that made its first series such a success. Starring James Nesbitt in his native Northern Ireland as dodgy cop and legendary assassin Tom Brannick aka Goliath, the rest of the force are still no wiser to his real identity. While the first season was occupied with the question of who is Goliath (answered with force in the finale), the second has secrets of its own as Brannick strives to stop the noose from tightening.

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Setting the tone for everything that follows, episode 1 begun with yet another murder – one that has potent consequences for our top cop who long ago crossed the thin blue line. The murdered body belongs to Colin, an accountant of dubious morality who was also the custodian of Goliath’s stash of gold he stole a quarter of a century ago. We’re then introduced to his femme fatale widow, Olivia, who of course knows a lot more than she is letting on.

Thus follows the dual story of Goliath’s hunt for his gold and also the official investigation into Colin’s killer.

Episode 2 begins with the police set to raid the country hideout of chief suspect Rob Dardus who worked for Colin and fell into the sultry web of Olivia. The tense set-piece climaxes with Dardus shattering his ankle and getting hauled in for questioning but not before Goliath comes across a gun that he subsequently hides from his partner DS Niamh McGovern and secretly pockets.

In the plot heavy episode, Goliath antagonises Dardus with threats of child services to the point where it gets the suspect released but then it becomes clear that may have been the mobster’s plan all along…

Olivia Foyle (VICTORIA SMURFIT)
Olivia Foyle (Victoria Smurfit) in Bloodlands HTM Televison/Steffan Hill

Home again, Dardus has his house firebombed in the middle of the night, forcing he and his family into witness protection, only separate from each other. Once Dardus is tucked up in a safehouse, Goliath starts lurking in the dark, waiting for the cops on duty to drop to sleep. Sneaking round the back of the house, Goliath tells Dardus there’s a mole in the unit and that he needs to come with him immediately.

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As is convention, they drive out into some ghoulish woods in the dead of night. Dardus thinks he is being moved to a different safehouse but when Brannick starts needling Colin’s killer about how he has been Olivia’s willing patsy, he realises the man in front of him is the mightily feared Goliath.

Being about the only living person to know Brannick’s secret, he misguidedly takes something of a victory lap, knowing all Goliath cares about is the gold. But Goliath didn’t earn his reputation of a brutal killer by handing out candyfloss to kids. When Dardus turns his back, he takes his last breath as Goliath buries a bullet in his head, killing a loose end and one more lead to the gold.

The scene is set for the big confrontation between Goliath and Olivia at the end of the episode when the widow is brought in for questioning. With the interrogation room cameras turned off and Olivia’s solicitor delayed by traffic, the two sit tersely across from each other. There’s a twinkle of flirting but they both have their eyes firmly planted on the gold. As the final seconds of the episode tick away with Goliath frustrated by Olivia’s oblique nature, she hints that she’s a keeper of many secrets including the location of the gold and Brannick’s true identity.

With the police circling for the truth as to what happened to Dardus and an increasingly suspicious partner in DC McGovern, Goliath has more than a few obstacles to overcome to satiate his greed for his gold.

Bloodlands returned to BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Sunday 18th September 2022 – season 1 is available to stream on BBC iPlayer. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.

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