What to stream this weekend: Guilt, starring Mark Bonnar, returns for a thrilling final season that returns to its Scottish roots

ReviewWhat to stream this weekend: Guilt, starring Mark Bonnar, returns for a thrilling final season that returns to its Scottish roots

In a crime drama, nothing says “bleak, British, grim” and “underworld” quite like Edinburgh, the Scottish setting for Guilt (BBC First, from Friday). And with more to be guilty about than most is Max McCall – the reliably sinister yet somehow vulnerable Mark Bonnar, brother of Jake (Jamie Sives).

The former is a disbarred lawyer and ex-jailbird; the latter is a bohemian, mostly failed musician. Each betrays the other to various degrees, despite the fact that they seem fated always to be stuck with each other – and even though Jake laments: “You know, there’s no one in this world, Max, who’s been around you who hasn’t been left ruined.”

And so it is, as the third and final season dawns, that they find themselves back in Scotland, having been deported together from the United States.

Reluctantly, Max is forced into a climactic showdown with his old nemesis and vicious gangster Maggie Lynch, now the uncompromising boss of Edinburgh’s most violent and intimidating crew.

Bonnar (left) and Jamie Sives as brothers Max and Jake McCall in “Guilt”. Photo: BBC Studios

Lynch is infused with controlled malevolence by an unnerving Phyllis Logan – an icy shock for those more familiar with her from her Lovejoy days.

Guilt season one and two are still streaming and viewing is recommended to help set the scene for this four-part culmination of vendettas, double- and triple-crossings and violent feuds.

Phyllis Logan as gangster Maggie Lynch in “Guilt”. Photo: BBC Studios

At the heart of it are the corruption-laced sale of a bank with £8 billion (US$10 billion) worth of assets that do not exist and the scramble to profit from it before the scam is exposed.

As treacheries deepen and self-interest begins to trump everything else, each knock on the door becomes one of foreboding for almost every character, all seemingly chilled by a city at its most charmless.

But that, apparently, is just one consequence of finding yourself in the orbit of the perennially scheming Max. As even his brother says of him: “He infects you with the way he sees the world.”

Bonnar and Sives in “Guilt”. Photo: BBC Studios

Slash and burn

Season two (Disney+) is more focused: a serial arsonist lurks at the heart of an opening central story garnished by murders, with the killer’s carefully planted victims being discovered as the flames are doused.

Kim Rae-won as police detective Jin Ho-gae in a still from “The First Responders”. Photo: Disney+

And it is Kim who shares one of the most grimly mesmerising early scenes of this season as he tries to pry information on possible suspects from a jailed, disfigured firebug.

It is a jarring encounter – and almost as gory as some of the postmortem examinations shown later, which are not recommended viewing for the squeamish.

Son Ho-jun as firefighter Bong Do-jin in a still from “The First Responders”. Photo: Disney+

Predictably, lesser Taewon crises do not stop to give our heroic triumvirate and their colleagues a break, even as increasing time and energy are directed towards unmasking the arsonist.

And as the fire fiend continues to evade capture and more gruesome murders are discovered, suspicion inevitably descends on certain firefighters themselves – with a few well-placed, dark hints keeping the viewer wondering.

Eventually, the threat of the perpetual series of blazes will be extinguished, although at great cost. Not that the first responders will have time to dwell on any of that, with new terrors quickly emerging to test their courage.


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