|to follow Jamie Dornan's amnesiac as he pieces together his past and doesn't like what he finds
|Danielle Macdonald, Jamie Dornan, Conor MacNeill, Diarmaid Murtagh, Emer Casey, Francis Magee, Greg Larsen, Mark McKenna, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Olwen Fouéré, Raresh DiMofte, Siobhán O'Kelly, Victoria Haralabidou
|Fergus O'Brien, Kate Dolan, Lisa Mulcahy, Alex Mercer, Harry Williams, Jack Williams
|BBC iPlayer, BBC1
|1st January 2023, 2024
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Ex-pat Irishman Elliot (Jamie Dornan) and his girlfriend, Australian ex police officer Helen (Danielle Macdonald) are making a new life for themselves, travelling around Asia, as they try to get a traumatic experience behind them.
They met after he awoke from a road accident in the Australian outback, with no memory of his past – and as details about his identity slowly trickled in, neither of them liked what they discovered.
During their Asian trip, Helen shows Elliot a letter that had arrived for him, apparently from a childhood friend, prompting them to return to Ireland to discover more about how he really is.
The pair find themselves deeply embroiled in a drugs war between two brutal gangs, with each of them being separately kidnapped and trying to rescue the other; there’s both help and interference from a local police officer and the waters are further muddied when someone from Helen’s own past catches up with them.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Season 1 of The Tourist was one of the most compelling pieces of must-see TV of 2022, so it was inevitable that a second series was commissioned.
The eponymous tourist is no longer a tourist, as a plot contrivance brings him home to the Emerald Isle – but not to a home he remembers. Others remember him, though.
The plot unravels at a thunderous pace, with kidnappings, betrayals, shocking revelations – but while it remains an entertaining ride, it doesn’t have the refreshing sense of originality and surprise of the original.
The desolate Australian outback is swapped for cramped caves and dingy basements, although they do allow the action to pop out into the gorgeous Irish countryside and coastline from time to time.
However, it’s the nature of its contrived narrative that lets it down. Jamie Dornan’s amnesiac protagonist remains empathetic, as signs of his violent past surprise him by popping up to break up his charming and well-meaning but sarcastic facade. But too much of the supporting cast feel like off-the-peg characters, plucked from a gallery of stereotypes – ruthless drugs barons, gangland heavies, a quirky cops – and much of what happens in an increasingly complex web of side-plots feels designed to nudge the overall story in the right direction, rather than being what might actually occur. Too many characters seem to flit back and forth with little coherence or consequence and a lengthy dream sequence seems like a lazy device that serves little genuine purpose.
Thematically, it’s interesting to explore the notion of whether a bad man can redeem himself by simply forgetting what he’s done; does not remembering being a ruthless criminal make you a good man? Of course, it’s entirely possible – in the debate about nature versus nurture – that someone might forget about all the bad things they’ve done, but still retain the same moral compass – the suggestion here is that if you can wipe the slate clean, you can start again fresh, quickly building up a good character, if the rotten influences are no longer around.
You’ll need to leave your brain at check-in to enjoy this journey as intended. Compared with the highs of Season 1, this is a bit deflating. It’s still fun – but infuriating.