'Roadkill' Episode 1 Review: Surrounded by own past, Peter Laurence makes new enemies in gripping thriller
Spoilers for 'Roadkill' Season 1 Episode 1
Peter Laurence (Hugh Laurie) is hardly the most honest of ministers out there. Even as he wins the libel case against the newspaper costing the publication millions, his prime minister doesn't trust him. He doesn't score well with the youth either as we find out in the episode that there are student protests against policies put into motion by the government.
Yet he is among the most popular of faces of this government. Prime Minister Dawn Ellison (Helen McCrory) also points out how he is clear-headed and staunch making for an impressive public figure. 'Roadkill' on PBS explores the idea of this conflicted figure of a politician sans conscience who is immensely popular among the people. Being from a working class background, Peter has risen up the ranks through sheer hardwork - and as many now begin finding out, via some connivance. It is following his court battle victory that the prime minister looks into his matter. He is then summoned by Dawn who interrogates him and his intentions, at the end of seemingly satisfying answers, she promises him a promotion.
This is hardly the only skeleton that is dropping off - or more like, being pulled out - his closet. When a young woman claiming to be his daughter gets in touch with him, he pays a visit to the women's prison. He doesn't get to meet this new daughter, but it is now clear that Peter might have fathered at least one child outside of his marriage and two legal daughters. 'Roadkill' sets up the stage for quite literally that - the once-popular minister Peter Laurence ending up like roadkill. Over the course of four episodes, 'Roadkill' will follow the downfall of an over-confident politician who fell victim to his own ambition. Julius Caesar vibes, anyone?
Around Peter, there are characters that are plotting to take him down - for vested interests or otherwise. As the episode draws to an end, several of these characters we followed through the day make surprising connections that don't bring welcome news for Peter. At the same time, we get mere glimpses of Peter's personal life. It is only revealed that out of his two daughters, one of them hardly ever talks to him.
Information is a powerful weapon. At the moment, the strongest of the cast is Peter's special advisor Duncan Knock (Iain de Caestecker) - who happens to be sleeping with Julia Blythe (Olivia Vinall), the keen-eyed private secretary to the prime minister. Episode 1 down, 'Roadkill' presents an exciting political thriller about power and ambition. Laurie's Peter Laurence is a con(fident) man for sure, but everyone else around him is catching up with his lies - with that, he can only go a little way.
'Roadkill' airs on Masterpiece on PBS at 9/8c.