• Archie Panjabi as Kendra Malley in ‘Departure’. (SBS)Source: SBS
When British passenger flight 716 from New York to London crashes into the ocean, the ripple effects shake the airline industry – and a crack team of investigators – to their core.
Anthony Morris

11 Dec 2020 - 8:30 AM  UPDATED 17 Dec 2020 - 6:44 PM

Departure is a series that hits the ground (and the ocean) running and doesn’t slow down. It’s six episodes of twists and turns as a team of investigators tries to figure out exactly what caused a passenger plane to crash in the Atlantic Ocean. With so much going on, it can be a little tricky getting a grip on who’s who: here’s our guide to who you need to keep your eye on.

Transportation Safety and Investigations Bureau Chief, Howard Lawson (Christopher Plummer)

Lawson is played by Christopher Plummer, a legend of the big screen and one of the smoothest actors alive, so you know he’s going to be charming in a way that suggests he could have you killed at a moment’s notice. Not that Lawson is having anyone killed, but as the man in charge of the investigation – and the one who hand-picks his TSIB protégé Kendra to handle it – it’s clear he’s going to be supportive, right up until the moment things stop going exactly how he wants them to go. And the pressure is definitely on: not only could this be the biggest loss of life in British aviation history, but the plane was a new model, with standing orders from all around the world. If it turns out it was a mechanical fault, they can kiss those orders – and billions of dollars – goodbye.

Investigator Kendra Malley (Archie Panjabi)

Kendra Malley’s job is to find the wreckage, find the survivors (if any) and find out what happened – and the clock is ticking because in the chilly North Atlantic, any survivors only have around six hours before they freeze to death. You’d think this would be just another day at the office for this crack investigator, but she’s a little rusty, having been off the job dealing with the accident that killed her husband a year ago. Throw in a son who has troubles of his own, and she’s suddenly got a very full plate indeed.

Captain Richard Donovan, pilot of Flight 716 (Allan Hawco)

Departure begins by following Flight 716 as it takes off from New York, and pretty much straight away, it’s obvious something is up with the captain of the plane. First, he’s distracted on his phone, then he sends the co-pilot out of the cockpit and locks himself in alone. Suddenly alarms are going off, a massive hole is ripped in the side of the plane, and the whole thing starts falling out of the sky. So is he the one to blame for what happened? Or could Hassan Esmaili (Emilio Doorgasingh), a passenger on the terrorism watch-list who was trained as a pilot, have had a part to play?


Dom (Kris Holden-Ried)

A former Scotland Yard cop and the anti-terrorism liaison member of Kendra’s team, Dom is the one usually found by Kendra’s side throughout the series as they put in the legwork investigating out on the ground. Unlike almost everyone else, Dom’s a newcomer to the team, and initially he thought he was going to be in charge of the investigation. So obviously he’s a little cranky at first, but he’s a professional. He’s also the one who figures out that Captain Donovan was living a double life (with two separate families), which makes the pilot even more of a suspect.


Janet Friel (Claire Forlani)

A new member of Kendra’s team, Claire has been assigned from MI5, which means either she has a lot of useful skills when it comes to finding out things they can’t learn any other way, or that she has a dodgy past which means she’s probably someone they shouldn’t really trust.


Ethan Moreau, CEO of British Global Air (Dougray Scott)

As the kind of airline boss you just know is putting profits above safety, Moreau – alongside the equally sinister CEO of Bartok Airlines, Pavel Bartok (Sasha Roiz) – is the kind of bigwig who pulls strings behind the scenes to get the results he wants (which is pretty much all corporate bigwigs, really).

AJ (Alexandre Bourgeois)

If Kendra wasn’t busy enough, her son AJ has just now decided to turn up in London with new girlfriend Leah (Chloe Farnworth) in tow. Somehow he manages to get himself mixed up in his mum’s investigations: guess Leah’s dreams of checking out the London sights will have to be put on hold.


Madelyn Strong (Rebecca Liddiard)

Madelyn is the first person we see on Departure, rushing to catch a flight… Flight 716 to be exact. She’s also the last person we see in the first episode. It’s safe to say that she rapidly becomes central to the investigation. But is she a clue as to what happened, or the cause?


Departure is now streaming at SBS On Demand.


Follow the author here: @morrbeat



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