Detective Superintendent Jane Tennison is back, and this time it could be her toughest case to date. A copycat serial killer is on the loose and he's using the same type of torture on his victims once used by a man named Marlowe, a serial killer Tennison convicted in the very first of the Prime Suspect series. But is the current killer really a copycat? Could Tennison have wrongfully put away Marlowe all those years ago? Even a best-selling book has been written about Marlowe's arrest and imprisonment, portraying Tennison as a cold woman whom hastily put away the wrong man strictly to advance her career.
Although Tennison is unwavering in her certainty that Marlowe committed the original murders and a copycat is on the loose, she has an uphill battle with her fellow police detectives, the majority believing the author's contention that Tennison screwed up. Tennison has stepped on a few toes over the years, especially ones belonging to male detectives, and her enemies are eager to exploit the Marlowe situation. The Marlowe case file is reopened and scrutinized, and Tennison finds herself having to prove over again that Marlowe committed the original murders she arrested him for ... and she has few allies to support her position.
As in all of the Prime Suspect episodes, Tennison's role as a woman in a male-dominated police force remains a central theme throughout "Scent of Darkness." The antagonism of her male superiors to prove her a failure regarding Marlowe seems to validate Tennison's anxieties. But nothing stops Jane Tennison when she's on the trail of a prime suspect.
Although much shorter than the majority of the Prime Suspect series, this particular episode nevertheless delivers a powerful and compelling story. It also showcases Helen Mirren's remarkable talent to make Jane Tennison a realistic, believable character: a rarity when it comes to 'middle-aged' women in film. From Tennison's arrogance and paranoia to her passion and empathy, Helen Mirren provides a solid, three-dimensional performance. In fact, Helen Mirren's portrayal of Tennison in Prime Suspect's "Scent of Darkness" earned her an Emmy Award for Best Actress.
Watch and see why.