In a summer-TV landscape awash with conflicted baddies, wayward heroes and horrific crimes, AMC's new dirty-cop drama Low Winter Sun adds a generous amount of blood, guilt and paranoia.
Two episodes in, here's the case file so far: top Detroit homicide detective Frank Agnew (Mark Strong) and fellow police officer Joe Geddes (The Walking Dead's Lennie James) have drowned Joe's partner, Brendan (Michael McGrady), in a sink behind a Chinese restaurant. Joe claims he saw Brendan shoot and mutilate Frank's girl, so they conspired to kill him and make it look like a suicide. Frank is soon anxiously leading an investigation into Brendan's murder alongside Simon Boyd (Suits' David Costabile), a suspicious Internal Affairs officer who'd been after the dead detective. "Boyd is the villain of our show in a strange way," executive producer Chris Mundy says. "He's this pressure point on Frank. Yet he's the one person who completely tells the truth."
Frank then discovers his girlfriend could still be alive, meaning Joe conned him. "The weight of the guilt hits, and the stress then just piles on," says Mundy. "It plays like Crime and Punishment after that."
"At the end of filming that second episode," Strong says, "Lennie and I both turned to each other and went, 'Wow, where do we go from here?'"
Admittedly, Strong did sort of know. The Londoner also portrayed Frank Agnew in the three-hour 2006 Edinburgh-set British miniseries from which Low Winter Sun is adapted. Yet by Sunday's third installment, AMC's Sun will have covered nearly all of the original show's major plot points — but with eight episodes still to go. The actor says this is what lured him back: "There are elements that come to a full stop in the original that this series takes further, like the relationship between Frank and Joe. I couldn't let that pass me by."
In Sunday's episode, Frank continues to work the case while he and Joe struggle to suppress physical evidence of their guilt. They also don't trust each other one bit. "Even though these guys are partners in crime, they are a long way from being partners in the cover-up of the crime," James hints.
Despite the heavy police presence, procedural vet Mundy (Criminal Minds) stresses that Low Winter Sun is not a cop show. Cases will not be opened at the beginning of an episode and solved at the end of it. "It's a blue-collar crime saga about how a couple of bad decisions lead to even more lousy choices," he says.
Mundy does promise that this season will have definite closure and all its little mysteries will be solved by the finale. "This is our first album," he says. "Next year, hopefully, we'll make a second."
Low Winter Sun airs Sundays at 10/9c on AMC.