Friday, October 27, 2023

Annika: The Jekyll & Hyde Episode

Ironically, DI Annika Strandhed has an easier time talking to viewers than her teen daughter Morgan or her DS, Michael McAndrews, with whom she shares some awkward personal history. Breaking the fourth wall is her thing. She often dishes to viewers regarding each episode’s case and her own personal issues. Strandhed (you can see why they simply called the series “Annika”) also has healthy interest in literature, which she demonstrates with her musings on Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It is not exactly a Halloween episode, but it is the closest PBS has to offer when the latest episode (S2E3) of Annika premieres Sunday.

Fabian Hyde, a green-sustainable energy tycoon has been murdered and it is clear the locals did not agree with his environmental do-gooder PR image. That starts Annika’s reflections on Stevenson and his fascination with duality—the idea that someone can be two very distinct personas simultaneously. She fears McAndrews might also see her as a Jekyll and Hyde, after revealing a very personal secret during the previous episode.

To really drive the point home, Strandhed gets deep-faked by a Scottish defund-the-police-style activist, making her sound like a crass opportunist. It is certainly a topical subplot and Strandhed’s Stevenson monologues add some welcomed color (he was Scottish after all). However, the mystery itself is overly simplistic and obvious even by 1970s Quinn Martin standards (which has been a longstanding critical knock on the series).

Nicola Walker makes Strandhed easy to identify with and Kate Dickie provides strong, cynical attitude for her to play off, as her supervisor, DCI Diane Oban. However, the moody tantrums from both Jamie Sives as McAndrews and Silvie Furneaux as Morgan quickly grow tiresome. Jessica Hardwick does a nice job with the tricky role of the victim’s lip-reading daughter, Katherine, but the rest of the guest stars are bland and forgettable.

take on Jekyll and Hyde is entirely neurotic, rather than scary. However, it might still interest fans of the immortal horror novella. If you enjoy watching British (Scottish, same difference) procedurals, this episode of Annika is okay as tune-out background noise, but there is no reason to make any great effort to watch when it airs this Sunday (10/29) on PBS.