While the Canadian crime series didn’t need her, her formidable presence is most welcome.
The six episodes on two discs comprise one story arc, in which the Sweeney family deals with the fallout of the previous season’s climax. There, child murderer Ray Prager was shot not by his across-the-street neighbor and longtime rival, Det. Mike Sweeney (Hugh Dillon), but by Sweeney’s teenage daughter, Sadie (Laurence Leboeuf).
Now, even though a facially scarred Ray (Romano Orzari) is behind bars, that doesn’t mean all’s well. In fact, it’s worse. Mike and his wife, Audrey (Helene Joy), are a hair away from divorce, and Sadie is being manipulated by Ray, who may or may not have raped her. She won’t say. Mike hopes to get a definitive answer before the trial, so he sends Sadie to forensic psychiatrist Pen Verrity (Forbes), with whom he has begun a torrid affair. Not only is that unethical, it’s dangerous. See, Pen’s a nut!
The secrets she hides and the lengths to which she goes to play her own mind-screw chess game give this year of “Durham” some serious juice. Again, not like it wasn’t doing fine without her. The first season proved addictive from the start, and this one remains phenomenally on par, continuing to stir the pot for a creepy, eerie, disturbing vibe that permeates every fiber of its being.
The main character of Mike Sweeney shows a few kinks in his armor as Sadie questions her father’s past, and Dillon does a tremendous job of portraying ambiguity — are we to distrust the show’s own hero? This kind of storytelling — never playing it safe — results in six dark, powerful hours.
Well Go USA’s DVD set contains the program’s uncut, uncensored versions, which mostly means a barrage of F-word-laden tirades, but also the occasional burst of violence and/or flash of boob, yet all for the service of the story. Initially dismissed at a “Twin Peaks” rip-off by American critics who didn’t watch beyond the first few minutes, “Durham County” is its own devious animal — one entirely cunning, and one who can’t show its face a third time fast enough for this ravenous viewer. —Rod Lott