BBC crime drama Silent Witness is back on our screens for its 25th (!) season and the first episode served up a delicious case to kick off the anniversary special.
All of the major players are back in action – Emilia Fox as Nikki Alexander, David Caves as Jack Hodgson and Genesis Lynea as Simone Tyler – plus a smattering of new faces.
But it's Amanda Burton's Sam Ryan who is undoubtedly the central focus of the anniversary special. Burton helmed the show for its first eight seasons before Fox stepped into her shoes – or lab coat. But she's back, for one outing only, although it's not entirely clear in what capacity given her highly suspicious behaviour.
While we doubt she's transformed into an out-and-out villain, there's certainly something amiss. But what?
Read on for all of the key information from Silent Witness season 25 episode 1 - but be warned, there are major spoilers for the first episode of the new season ahead.
Silent Witness Season 25 episode 1 recap
The season opener centred on the murder of health secretary Alice Reynolds. She was shot dead following a press conference for a European-wide health passport programme helmed by Unitas Health, a company founded by Sam, who was working for the UN before moving onto her own venture, and her husband Jomo Mashaba.
By winning the contract, they gained a "data goldmine" that would transform the future of healthcare. But their victory also attracted a number of enemies from the world of big tech, who were also desperate to get their hands on the highly valuable information.
Jomo was also shot but lived to see another day, for the time being at least, with evidence suggesting that he was the intended target – Sam informed Nikki and Jack that the commission had added a new clause stating that if, for any reason, Jomo left Unitas Health, the contract would be null and void.
"Death's a pretty good reason," noted Jack.
Detectives Ronnie Boyle and Shireen Farkhoy, who were also assigned to the case, utilised a new computer network, nicknamed Vigil, to pinpoint prime suspects by teasing out invisible links via CCTV, face mapping and the like.
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As the investigation rumbled on, their search lead them to a lock-up where the assassins responsible for Alice's death and Jomo's attempted murder, a man and a woman, were supplied with the weapon and rounds, which had been stolen from an army base. The CCTV was fed into Vigil, in turn allowing the authorities to visually identify the woman.
With Vigil's insight, they learned that the currently unnamed female was also involved in another shooting in Stockholm back in 2018 when another politician, who campaigned against the "nastier end of the anti-immigration lobby", had been killed.
As Nikki's research lead her further down the rabbit hole, a man called Tom Faulkner was added to the equation after she uncovered his fingerprints from a bullet. When his face popped up on her computer screen, she immediately recognised him, and she also has his number saved in her phone. But who is Tom?
Tom, who served in the army, was born in Cambridge, where the first three seasons of the show were set, and he doesn't have a criminal record.
Another person who is well acquainted with Tom is none other than Sam. When she flew out to Stockholm to carry out the post mortem on the politician who had been murdered, he acted as her security detail following threats made to UN personnel from far right groups.
Tom is also on the radar of a man called Dan, who was lurking at the scene when the initial shooting happened and at the hospital that Jomo was recovering at.
He was photographed talking to the health secretary by Rosa Fernandez, Jomo's PA, who was was also murdered. During the post-mortem examination, it also emerged that Alice was pregnant at the same – something her daughter didn't know anything about, and it's hinted that Dan could potentially be the father.
We also know that Alice didn't want to attend the press conference, a strong indicator that she wanted no part in the health passport. Was that due to concern about potential data breaches, or something else?
Dan left a voicemail on Tom's phone in which he said: "Now she's dead,' referencing Rosa, "And you know who's next."
Despite Sam reaching out to Nikki for help following the shooting, Nikki isn't so sure about Sam's intentions.
"I'm worried that I don't know all there is to know," said Nikki. "I can't dismiss the thought that you handpicked us in the hope that you could influence us in some way if needs be."
Sam immediately denied that claim, but it's clear that she's holding back key information. What does she know? And just how detrimental would it be if she pulled back the curtain fully?
At the very end of the episode, another piece of the puzzle presents itself, bringing us a step closer to the answers we seek.
"Do you want to know who killed the health secretary?" Tom asked Nikki when they come face to face.
Something tells us the end is nigh for Mr Faulkner...
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