By James Leyfield
ITV has made serious waves with yet another nail-biting drama in The Bay.
The premise of the show, set in Morecambe Bay, north west England, sees teenage twins go missing, and it is up to the marvellous Morven Christie’s character Detective Sergeant Lisa Armstrong to solve the case.
One reason alone to tune in is the stellar performance by This is England star Chanel Creswell, who has been extremely convincing as Jess Meredith, the devastated mother of the twins, Holly (Darci Shaw) and Dylan Meredith (Noah Valentine).
On the face of it another missing child drama may seem like one too many, but dive head-first into The Bay and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep thrill-thirsty viewers entertained.
There are just two episodes remaining – fear not, you can catch up on the first four if you’re behind – so we’ve looked back at the past four hours to consider what might be going on in mysterious Morecambe…
WARNING: The Bay spoilers below!
The series began with the writers keen to get us suspecting the twins’ no-nonsense step-father Sean Meredith (Jonas Armstrong) as the reason for their disappearance.
It has since turned into a murder case after Dylan was found dead in the bay, and in the latest episode conscientious copper Lisa discovered the whereabouts of Holly, who is still alive. But who killed Dylan, and what has Holly been up to?
Just minutes in we were treated to a twist when it was revealed Lisa got up close and personal with Sean, who she didn’t know at the time, on the night the teens went missing, only for her to discover the next day she would be his family liaison officer for the case.
We’re still waiting on that timebomb to be exposed to her Detective Inspector, Tony Manning (Daniel Ryan), who will be less than impressed to find out she is technically involved in the case as an outsider, but in the meantime it simply seems far too obvious for Sean to have played a big part in the twins’ disappearance.
Their uncle Ryan Foley (Philip Hill-Pearson), Sean’s fellow trawler, certainly appears to be up to no good after police found thousands of pounds in his room, and he has the same trainers as a mystery person caught on CCTV with Holly when she went missing. But, again, it might be too obvious for it to be him.
However, one theory is Ryan could be the Gameslayer, a mysterious online user who has been tempting the kids of Morecambe to take part in dangerous dares. Lisa’s son Rob Armstrong (Art Parkinson) has been caught up in the game and is being blackmailed for £500. If the Gameslayer regularly extorts 500 quid out of its players/ victims, this could explain where Ryan got his money from.
But could it be that Ryan’s own mother Margaret Foley (Tracie Bennett) is the Gameslayer? They might even be in it together? She is certainly a huge fan of money as we’ve seen when she was desperate to get her hands on some of the compensation Jess was potentially owed for Dylan’s death. And she hates Lisa so probably wouldn’t feel guilty about blackmailing her son.
With Jess seemingly in the clear due to her devastation at losing her son, she may well be over-egging the emotion and turn out to be heavily involved. Are her tears for her twins, or has the game just gone too far?
Like Margaret, another gran we’ve seen on screen a lot but who hasn’t really done much, so far at least, is EastEnders legend Lindsey Coulson’s character Penny, the mother of Lisa and grandmother of Rob and Lisa’s drug-dealing daughter Abbie Armstrong (Imogen King).
Now, why hire someone of Lindsey’s calibre and not really involve her much? There must be more to come from her. Or perhaps, her partner Tom (Richard Huw) has something to do with it all. He doesn’t say a great deal but is always hanging around. Very suspicious.
Another who has had a fairly minor role is Taheen Modak’s alter-ego DC Med Kharim, yet he appears on all the promo posters for the show. He’s had a fair bit of screen time, but once again, hasn’t really done a lot and is regularly moved to the side by his police partner Lisa, who wants all the headlines.
And, more interestingly, when Lisa tracked Holly down to that grotty hovel in a disused activity centre, she seemed to flinch when Lisa mentioned she was from the police.
OK, that’s a bit of a stab in the dark, but we could be onto something here. Because, why would someone who has been captured against their will be fearful of the police? Chances are you would be pleased to see them. So, what if she has been in hiding away all this time and poor Nick Mooney (Matthew McNulty) – who was beaten up and left for dead by Ryan – has been covering for her and bringing her food and drink?
Don’t forget, Holly’s bag was found with a bundle of notes inside, so perhaps she carried out the ultimate Gameslayer dare and killed her own brother before being handsomely rewarded? Her DNA was found under Dylan’s fingernails, so she doesn’t appear to be such an innocent party after all.
Whatever happens, you can be fairly confident of one thing – Lisa will get the job done. But will she solve the case in time to realise her own kids are spiralling out of control? And what will come of her career when Manning finds out about her liaison with Sean?
The Bay airs on ITV on Wednesdays at 9pm.