When we last left Jack Taylor back at the end of "The Magdalen Martyrs," our hard-drinking, but even harder working Irish private eye had learned a secret about his family that forever changed his world view and sent his mother into a nearly fatal stroke. When we meet up several months later in "The Dramatist," the first of three new Taylor outings in "Jack Taylor: Set 2," we find a vastly changed man. Caring for his nearly invalid mother as well as himself, fighting the good fight on the path to sobriety, Taylor finds himself quickly pulled into the shockingly seedy underworld of Galway. Initially ruled a suicide, the death of a female college student is too much for Taylor to pass up investigating and it's not long before he discovers, naturally, not is all that it seems. It's merely the first episode of three within this second series release of one of the more fascinating characters to make its way across the Atlantic.
A year removed from the initial trio of episodes that introduced Jack Taylor to the world, two key factors define the series and more importantly the character: dark subject matter and Iain Glen. I had mentioned in my review of the debut series, that Glen's work on "Game of Thrones" was really the only performance/character I found fascinating and seeing him pop up as an Irish PI, was impossible to resist. Glen's multi-faceted performance in series one cemented Taylor as legit and with such a great thematic cliffhanger, it would have been a crime to not follow up with a glimpse down the road into his life. Glen's even more on fire this time around, getting to show a different side of our always surly and often-violent former Irish cop. With sobriety being his biggest challenge (the reasons for which are explored in fascinating detail in "The Dramatist"), Taylor is a very emotionally vulnerable character, having to face the declining health of his mother without chemical reprieve, all while stomaching the horrors of the case at hand.
The nature of Taylor's cases is what elevates what could be a rote exercise in procedural drama into a tension filled exploration into the sinister. While "The Dramatist" may ever so slightly work its way into the most minor of "Saw" tinged territories, it's the second episode, "Priest" that cements why viewers need Jack Taylor for at least another half-dozen outings. The episode is very socially relevant, horrific, but never exploitative. It's the perfect cacophony of madness for Taylor to investigate. The series ends with "Shot Down" which sees Taylor heading to Dublin for reasons I won't spoil; the mystery itself is rather mundane compared to its predecessors, but the relationship between Taylor and a young victim provide the rare glimpse into the often buried, kind heart of our sometimes near antihero.
As quickly as it begins, the three new cases of Jack Taylor are over and we're left with unanswered questions and that wonderful sense of, "what's next?" While series one had the tricky task of introducing Taylor and his world, while still managing to hook viewers into engaging mysteries, series two explores the greater emotional spectrum of Taylor's world including his relationships with women and the privilege but sometimes burden of training a young protégé, a key plot development that runs through all three episodes. As always, let's hope the wait between new episodes is a short one.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer has a distinct level of digital noise/grain that complements the cold, grey color palette that feels right at home in the slick cinematography the series has to offer. Detail levels are consistently strong throughout and there are no telltale signs of digital tinkering.
The Dolby Digital English stereo audio track is perfectly serviceable, but with the nice visual appeal of the film finely represented, a solid 5.1 mix would have added greatly to the thematic presentation. It's a solid mix, with only a few lines of dialogue getting lost in the more frantic sequences (some thick accents add to that as well). English SDH subtitles are included.
The only extras is a short interview with the director, Stuart Orme on the series and character.
"Jack Taylor: Set 2" takes what its initial offering set-up and takes it to a higher level. Taylor is a more engaging character, the mysteries are darker and leave you guessing the resolution and the series spanning character developments are critical in building an organic world for Iain Glen to tear up with his wonderful performance. Highly Recommended.