For those who have not yet witnessed Jack Thorne’s crime drama, “Glue” the series centres on a group of young people and the secrets and lies that are unveiled in the aftermath of the murder of one of their own; fourteen year old traveller Caleb Bray. True, upon initial viewing they just seem like any genetically gifted cast whom you couldn’t name until after watching at least a few episodes. Although, as the series develops, almost all of them reveal their own streak of hedonism, making it apparent that any one of them could be capable of murder. “Glue” offers a refreshing take on the coming of age tale, with the alternative backdrop of the English countryside, whose inhabitant’s destinies range from becoming a farmer, a stable boy and a female jockey. Also, unique is the portrayal of the traveller community and the inclusion of dialect into the dialogue.
Police officer Ruth acts as the link between the case’s suspects and the inspectors making her a bit of a problem character. Exiled from the traveller community and shunned by the group of friends, it is unclear whether she is motivated to take on the case to find justice for the people she once cared about, or to earn merits and prove herself to her colleagues. As well as being a negligent mother and sleeping with the potential enemy, her character, like many of the others, is quite difficult to sympathise with or care about; which is one of the programme’s weaknesses. One episode which was spent purely on a love triangle within the group of friends unfortunately felt clichéd and irrelevant to the more interesting sub-plots.
Whilst being as gritty as the ground it’s set on, “Glue” also has its lighter moments that encompass the thrill seeking, recklessness of youth. Scenes of euphoria whether it comes from joyriding, running naked in a field or crowd surfing a festival in a forest are interwoven with moments of shock and tragedy which creates gratification on multiple levels. Another one of “Glue’s” appeals is purely aesthetic, in terms of effective editing, and recurring sweeping, overhead camera shots that create a suspenseful feel. The mostly dulled colours in the frame imply realism yet the illuminating sunlight enhances the etherealness of its setting.
Ancillary video clips set during the days and months before the murder provide the audience with more pieces of the fragmented character of Cal and elevates the programme onto the online platform. Whilst series one is approaching its conclusion, this is definitely one to catch up with using Channel 4’s on demand service. With a main storyline like this, it could well be over once it is revealed who killed Cal. However, if it does get commissioned for another series, we could instead be expecting the delivery of a final shock twist to series one’s finale.