The review has been done on the basis of all six episodes in the series.
What is the story about?
Four friends Anna (Laura Fraser), Cat (Heledd Gwynn), Louie (Eiry Thomas) and Nancy (Julie Hesmondhalgh) work at the local brewery. At a party, they play a drunk prank on their boss Jack (Aneurin Barnard) who everybody hates and leave him alone in the forest in an intoxicated state. Returning in a moment's time to check up on him, the four find Jack dead. Thus, they make a pact to not disclose the events of the night lest they get arrested and sentenced for manslaughter.
Four women with dysfunctional families, incest, lesbian relationship, a lot of angry shouting, a closeted young boy and an anti-hero, The Pact has it all to make for a brooding BBC mystery. Coming from the land of Sherlock and Broadchruch, I thought The Pact would also be a good entertainer, something to boggle my mind and keep me at the edge of my seat. It did keep me on the edge of my seat, only I was dozing off the chair in this case.
First of all the writing seemed inspired rather than original. Ideas were borrowed from other scripts, one of them even being something akin to Pretty Little Liars or the horror/thriller classic I Know What You Did Last Summer. The series focussed on the crumbling lives of the three out of four protagonists way too much to give thought to the actual plot, although it somehow then tied up at the ending. Basically, think of series being sticky notes stuck on a wall and then different threads joining them to one sticky note in the middle. That is The Pact.
The other thing that really irked me beside the fact that the audience does not get the fulfilment of a satisfying ending was the beginning of the series which was insensitive to say the least. In the first episode, Jack is a character written to be hated because he insults people, is hated by workers and the nail in his coffin- he molests a woman but in the turn of events, the "prank" is taking the intoxicated man to the woods, stripping his pants down and clicking pictures of him. Whether a man or a woman is undressed for a "prank" without consent, it is molestation and even sexual harassment. The series does not address this issue but takes it in a stride of it only being something that is being done to a "bad man".
Everyone did their bit to pull in the viewer to the best of their abilities. Laura Fraser shined onscreen as the awkward, riddled with inferiority complex Anna and did not make the audience feel like a stranger. For the limited screentime that she got Heledd Gwynn was believable as the life hardened Cat who is vulnerable and alone on the inside. Julie Hesmondhalgh was brilliant in the skin of Nancy defining the all that glitters is not gold proverb and lastly, Eiry Thomas was enjoyable as the cleptomaniac Louie shining particularly in one scene where she was in a spat with her brother Arwell played by Eddie Marsan.
Music & Other Departments
The music score is sombre and does not pull attention to itself, almost getting lost in the background. Keeping to the theme of the series make-up and clothing has also been kept to the minimal with mostly darker shades being worn onscreen. The location is beautiful and scenic which only adds to the mystery of the show with its dark woods and scarce populace.
What I did not really like was the fact that they did not try to explore their location, only showing certain parts of the small town or village which can lead to the audience making certain assumptions about the place. The brewery, the police station and in one scene the school and a bank were shown and that's it. Extra characters other than those mainly involved in the plot were not shown which made me think that it is only them that live there, these handfuls of dysfunctional families.
It is a slow burn thriller with cliffhangers at the end of every episode. I liked the revelation of the killer.
I absolutely hated the ending. Throughout the whole series they build up momentum and then drop it like the rest of the five episodes did not matter. While I understand that it is a fictional show birthed out of imagination, some things require a reality-based solution. By the end, I smacked my own forehead in disappointment. Pete McTighe seemed to be too busy in his fairyland to give heed to actual things like right police procedures, systematic investigation and a huge case of wrongful arrest where even one of the policeman who was in charge of the investigation is in tandem with the conclusive arrest. McTighe seemed to be confused by his own script to write such a wishy-washy ending.
Did I enjoy it?
I enjoyed the cliffhangers at the end of each episode. The actors do a commendable job in keeping the show afloat.
Do I recommend it?
Not really. You can skip this one.