Jason Isaacs returns as brooding, country music loving, Scottish private detective Jackson Brodie, in Series 2 of Case Histories. Brodie is still as charming and loveable, and self-destructive, as ever, and Isaacs' presence is a big reason why the show continues to work so well.
Series 2 picks up some time after Series 1 left off. Brodie's ex-wife and daughter Marlee (Millie Innes) have moved to New Zealand, and he's broken off his relationship with DC Louise Munroe (Amanda Abbington) to spend a couple of months with his daughter, and to do a very sketchy job in Germany. That job affects him deeply, and when he returns to Edinburgh he's something of a broken man. Zawe Ashton returns as his long suffering secretary Deborah, and a few other characters from Series 1 are back as well.
The format is somewhat different this time around. Before, three of Kate Atkinson's original novels were adapted, with two hour long episodes for each. In Series 2 there are three ninety minute episodes, and only the first is based on one of Atkinson's books, with the other two being original creations. The cases range from a young woman searching for her birth parents, to a standard "is my husband cheating" investigation, to looking into a long ago death that was ruled an accident.
The performances are absolutely top quality, as before, and Isaacs, with his piercing blue eyes, easy manner and intensity that he can turn on and off at will, is the engine that powers the show. Brodie is slightly less empathetic in Series 2 however, if only because, though he really wants to do the right thing, he will so often make choices that bring him and others pain and suffering. And Brodie does suffer, a lot, both physically, psychologically and emotionally. This is a somewhat more dour series than the previous, but still quite enjoyable. The only quibble as far as writing I could lodge is a somewhat inexplicable decision Brodie makes in the final episode, which has some bad personal consequences for him, that doesn't seem to have been strictly necessary. Regardless of that, the stories are tightly written, well-acted, and expertly staged. The mysteries are intricate enough to satisfy, though it's really the characters moving about in them that are important here, and not the puzzle.
Below are descriptions of the episodes, as presented on the discs:
Started Early, Took My Dog
Jackson and the Women
Case Histories, Series 2 is just as complex, emotionally intricate and well-drawn as its predecessor, if perhaps somewhat more dark and brooding. You really can't ask for a better cast or a better execution. This is mystery, but with a focus on the human element. It's top flight television. Highly recommended.