A British soldier, Shaun Emery (Callum Turner), just acquitted of a war crime follows his barrister, Hannah Roberts (Laura Haddock) out into the street from his celebratory drinks and is caught on closed circuit television apparently dragging her away as a double decker bus passes. So begins the mystery thriller ‘The Capture’ originally on BBC now available in Australia on Prime.

Rising star, Detective Inspector Rachel Carey (Holliday Grainger) finds herself in an increasingly complex web of changing evidence and shadowy intelligence agencies as she pursues the confused Emery.

Along the way we meet the morally compromised Frank Napier (Ron Perlman), running the unnamed American intelligence service from a London basement and the steely Detective Superintendent Gemma Garland (Lia Williams).  Neither are Carey’s friends. But saying more would give the game away.

The pivotal plot point is the unaccountable use of surveillance, supposedly in the public interest to protect us against terrorist plots, at least as the intelligence agencies see it. We are asked to consider whether the ends justify the means. ‘Eye in the Sky‘ posed the same question for the use of drones.

A dazzling array of surveillance systems and possibilities takes centre stage. A vast web of cameras. High tech studios full of staff that monitor them on an equally vast array of screens. Face recognition algorithms linked to mega data sets that have everyone’s profile scraped from administrative files, social media and the internet. But who watches the watchers?

Carey is smart, tough and obstinate, but she faces uncomfortable choices as she unravels what is going on. She starts as the rising insider and then finds herself increasingly the outsider, with career, ethics and justice all on the line. It’s a great performance by Grainger and an even better one by the soldier Turner. He really is the outsider – everyone’s pawn in a complicated game.

The Capture has that air of authenticity and street realism that British crime excels at.  It shares ‘the feel’ of the better ‘scandi noir’ series that have emerged over the past decade. Its weakness is that the plot begins to get speculative toward the end. But overall it has pace, intelligence and moral ambiguity that makes it interesting. 

The Capture engages you with the main characters and their moral and ethical struggle. You are left wondering what Carey will do until the last moment. It’s worth considering and there will be a series 2.