The Five is a gleefully over-the-top (in a slightly American fashion) UK miniseries with a kick-ass premise. It’s one of those serialised mysteries with episode-end cliffhangers that tempt you to throw heavy inanimate objects at the screen.
Unlike the recent trend of bleak and moody mystery TV (The Killing, Broadchurch and Bloodline among too many others to name), The Five is a sweeter pill to swallow. It’s glossy and fast-paced, and is scored by rock music. In other words, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
Here’s why you’d benefit from kicking back and letting The Five do its thing.
The kick-ass premise
While teenager Mark and his three friends are taking a walk through forestry, his younger brother Jesse is told he’s not allowed to join them, and should make his way home.
Jesse was never seen again. His body was never found.
Twenty years later, and Jesse’s DNA is found at the grisly crime scene of a slaughtered prostitute. Investigations reveal this murder may be part of a trend, or in other words, the work of a serial killer.
What happened on that day?
While flashbacks to 1995 tell us the four teenagers were merely acting like typical youths and telling the annoying little brother he was too young to join their walk, there are gaps in the story.
These gaps are only ever hinted at during the first episode, which is another bloody reason to say goodbye to the outside world and dive eyes first into an inescapable binge-watching pit.
The news of Jesse’s DNA turning up is initially kept under wraps, thanks to Danny, who has become a police detective and was the man who made the discovery. Danny opts to tell Mark and the gang, reuniting the three male friends with their old mate Prue, who all hope to find Jesse alive and well.
But quite quickly we learn that each of them may or may not have something to hide. Most glaringly – why aren’t they going to the police? One of the four is a cop, so what’s the deal?
The incarcerated psychopath who took credit for Jesse’s murder
For years, a prison lifer who raped and mutilated four children was considered Jesse’s killer. This serial murder didn’t take credit for this fifth murder until well after the fact, and Jesse didn’t fit his victim profile.
Did this man admit to the killing in order to gain more privileges inside? Or to remind the world of his notoriety? It’s hard to tell, considering the disturbing detail with which he describes Jesse’s death.
A present day serial kidnapper (and killer?)
Jesse’s DNA might have been found at the scene of an isolated murder, but something else is afoot. Slade, one of the four, who runs a shelter for vulnerable young people, comes across a traumatised woman who had been missing for five years. Are the two cases related? We’re not sure.
What we do know is that this young woman has some disturbing news to share with Slade.
Does the discovery of Jesse’s DNA mean he’s now a killer?
Who knows why Jesse’s DNA was at this grisly scene, but it’s easy to entertain the possibility that, if still alive, he’s turned into a killer – maybe even of the serial nature.
But that’s all conjecture. And The Five is definitely one of those shows that will make a fan's head spin with multiple theories.
From 28 September (when episode 2 will be broadcast), The Five airs Wednesdays at 11:00pm on SBS. All of series 1 is available on SBS On Demand.
Missed the first episode? Watch it right here: