Unforgotten opens with a series of scenes depicting perfectly ordinary people going about their lives and interacting with other perfectly ordinary people. At the same time, a body is discovered in the basement of a building that's over a century old, and DCI Cassie Stuart and her partner DI Sunny Khan must figure out not only what happened to the deceased, but when, in the long history of that building, he died. This mystery series is smart, engaging, thoughtful, and empathetic, and the story's interplay between ordinary people and the crime that's almost certainly been committed by one of them has left me unable to forget it.
Early in the series, it becomes apparent that the ordinary people we meet in the opening episode are all somehow involved with the last days of the murder victim. But it's not until the very last episode (there are six), that everything fits together and the picture becomes clear. The series very much scratches the same itch for me that traditional mystery books do. It is, at the most basic level, a fabulous whodunnit. But also, along the way, the series considers some intriguing questions:
- Is a crime any less wrong because time has passed? Does it become less of a crime if the people involved are no longer alive?
- How do you go on with your life knowing you've done something terrible? How do you sweep it under the rug and pretend nothing happened?
For me, the best villains aren't the maniacal masterminds or the brutish bullies, but the otherwise unremarkable people who have managed to do terrible things. If that kind of villain is also your cup of tea, this is the series for you. The acting is great, the pacing is fabulous, the characters are well-drawn and multi-faceted, and the story manages to ratchet up the tension with some well-timed discoveries and conversational clues. I managed to stop watching for the night after the second episode, but once I made it through the fourth one the next day, I had to stay up late to finish it.