Fresh off another successful case solved, Career of Evil: Part One provides a truly disturbing mystery for Robin and Strike. The episode opens with three separate montages — Robin having drinks with Matthew and some old university friends; Strike visiting an apartment building (which was caught on camera) and a young teenage girl finding her end in the same apartment minutes later.
Post intro, we find Robin heading into work. She’s met by a nondescript man with a package addressed to her and heads up to the office. While on the phone planning her wedding menu, she opens the package and finds a severed leg. Yes, an actual leg addressed to her. The note accompanying the leg contains lyrics from a famous band, Blue Oyster Cult, that Strike’s late mother was obsessed with.
When JK Rowling’s Career of Evil came out two years ago, I had just moved into my first apartment by myself, having lived with roommates in and fresh out of college. A fan of the series, I was excited to dive into another mystery from one of my favorite authors. Career of Evil proved to be nightmare fuel, and reading it alone, in my new apartment, by myself was terrifying. I was pleased to see that the disturbing terror played out on screen in a similar manner, as my heart raced from the minute Robin opened her mysterious package.
Throughout the episode, Strike discusses who could be behind the leg, having three very dangerous men from his past capable of committing the crime; Noel Brockbank, a Gulf War veteran turned pedophile that Strike caught; Donald Laing, a former war veteran who Strike caught abusing his wife and child; and Jeff Whittaker, Strike’s former stepfather and the man he believes killed his mother (and the sleaziest person ever).
With the increasingly violent crime featured in this mystery, we are also subjected to further hardships for our detective heroes. Strike, plagued with memories of his mother and upbringing, and Robin, who finds out that Matthew cheated on her with former university mate, Sarah Shadlock.
In Robin’s saddened state, she’s acting less vigilant than the up-and-coming detective should, and we see a hooded figure — presumably the sender of the leg — following her. She ends up at a bar, drunk off white wine. Strike deduces where she is and confront Robin as to her missing ring. Robin confesses that Matthew was unfaithful during university; right after Robin dropped out.
What’s more, Robin confesses that she left university because she was attacked and raped. Her observations of the attacker led to him being charged with rape and attempted murder. The reason Matthew cheated was because Robin couldn’t be intimate with him (what an actual POS).
As the episode continues, Robin and Strike hunt for clues, don disguises and work to find out who sent the leg. On top of coping with the shocking delivery, Robin also comes to terms with her and Matthew’s relationship ending; leading a cross-country drive with Strike as the perfect distraction (read: even more sexual tension, but in a car!).
The episode leaves Robin in turmoil with memories of her rape bubbling to the surface and Strike publicly in hot water, with photos of Kelsey, the deceased owner of the leg and teenaged girl we saw at the beginning of the episode and Strike leaking to the public and a visit from the paparazzi D.I. Wardle.
Having read the book, I know we are in for a rollercoaster ride over the course of the next two episodes. Are you prepared?