'We Hunt Together': TV Review

WE HUNT TOGETHER - Hermione Cornfield -Dipo Ola- Publicity -H 2020
BBC Studios/UKTV/Ludovic Robert
An auspicious premise undermined by too many twists.

Hermione Corfield and Babou Ceesay star in Showtime's cat-and-mouse thriller about a pair of London killers on the lam.

The first kill on the new Showtime mystery We Hunt Together is a no-brainer. The victim, who dies instantly by a knife thrust into the base of his skull, is a would-be rapist who, were he to survive the night, would have gotten Baba (Dipo Ola), a former child soldier waiting for British immigration officials to grant him asylum, deported back to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Each subsequent murder, though, gets harder to justify.

That's one of the few ways that We Hunt Together maintains its narrative momentum, which is frequently undercut by writer Gaby Hull's pulling the rug out from under the audience again and again, until there's little reason to care about his characters or their fates. The pulpy, too-twisty six-part thriller (which aired earlier this summer in the UK on the Alibi channel) follows Baba's star-crossed romance with Freddy (Hermione Corfield), a young woman who delights in her ability to make her new boyfriend do terrible things to men who've wronged her. Those include their initial target, whose attempted sexual assault on Freddy was thwarted by Baba.

Searching for the couple, also on the "hunt," are newly paired detectives Lola (Eve Myles) and Jackson (Babou Ceesay). Jackson's Ned Flanders-esque sunniness and storied background in internal affairs immediately brings out the retreating hermit in Lola — for good reason. She's got big secrets to hide, especially from a cop willing to tell on other cops, even if Jackson's unflappable cheerfulness makes him akin to a pair of blinding white sneakers just out of the box secretly begging to be dirtied up. Their gradually defrosting partnership, with each just a bit too condescending at the start, makes for a natural, though not particularly compelling, contrast to Baba and Freddy's volatile alliance.

Unfortunately, the bulk of We Hunt Together is dedicated to the stubbornly underwritten Baba and the only theoretically intriguing Freddy. The latter is meant to be a smug mastermind, but in nearly every episode, she makes the kind of basic mistakes even a casual viewer of crime procedurals would know to avoid, like letting the detectives questioning her know that she believes herself to be smarter than they are. Frequent flashbacks to Freddy's teenage years (with Freya Durkan playing her younger self), when she was sent away by her parents after an unspecified tragedy, suggest there might be a righteous if morally compromised logic to her targets — a promise of thematic complication that's undermined by another ostensibly shocking reveal. At least Corfield, unlike her co-stars, gets enough layers in her character for a memorably multi-dimensional performance.

In contrast, the characterization of Baba is a lurid letdown, his trauma mostly an excuse for hallucinatory jump scares and a convenient efficiency in his and Freddy's killings. Admittedly, We Hunt Together isn't striving for a sensitive depiction of the rehabilitation of ex-child soldiers. But for a character who's seeking redemption for his past actions, he's bizarrely willing to compromise his ethics — or risk his immigration status — for a woman he's just met, especially one as obviously disturbed as Freddy.

Despite the best efforts of Corfield and Ola, as well as series director Carl Tibbetts' gorgeously haunted London, Baba and Freddy's neon-lit affair never quite gels, which makes the later episodes, in which their feelings for each other are harshly clarified, particularly numbing. Tibbetts reliably wrings suspense out of individual scenes, but after just a few episodes, the tension between wanting this harebrained Bonnie and Clyde to be caught and to be free had completely dissipated. All the fluorescent pinks and purples in England can't cover up the haze of indifference that remains.

Cast: Babou Ceesay, Hermione Corfield, Eve Myles, Dipo Ola, Kamara Abraham, Freya Durkan

Premieres Sunday, Aug. 10, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime