Plot: While she is no stranger to pressure and hardship, Janet King (Marta Dusseldorp) faces challenges that shake even her strong foundations. Two years have passed since her love Ash was murdered, but the case remains unsolved and little progress or even attention seems to be involved. This has left her personal life in ruins, as she tries to raise her family without her partner, while also dealing with some of the toughest criminal cases on the docket. Her latest assignment is to head up a commission on the illegal gun trade, not a simple task whatsoever. She is accustomed to controversial and difficult cases however, so she brings in some familiar faces to lend a hand and cover more ground. The trail of guns leads in many directions, but one thread seems to have a connection with the murder of Ash. Has she once again uncovered a chain of corruption that will put her life in the line of fire?
Entertainment Value: I found the first series of Janet King to be a good watch, mostly because of Marta Dusseldorp’s excellent lead performance. A lot of critics disliked the show however, as it didn’t always shoot for legal realism, but I didn’t mind, as the show was a brisk, enjoyable experience. In this second series, we have more of the same focus on characters and drama over legal realism, but again, I think it serves the show well and is a reasonable approach. If the commission isn’t called in to investigate, we have no show, so while perhaps a little unrealistic, we need a place to start and the narrative here provides that. The pace is on the quick side, which keeps things tense and new turns at a steady clip. I don’t mind a grounded, by the book legal drama at all, but I also think there is a place for a show like this, where thrills and characters are the focus. So yes, it does perhaps get a little twisty at times, but it never feels out of control or trite, just complex and suspenseful. I think those who appreciated the first series will like this one as well, as it ramps up the pace and tension. But if you disliked the first series, this likely won’t convert you into a fan.
As with the first series, the main force behind the show is Marta Dusseldorp, who shines as Janet King. A lot of shows treat a female lead as a novelty and play on stereotypes, but that is not the case here. Dusseldorp conveys a level of strength, intelligence, and depth we don’t often see in crime show leads, male or female. Her presence anchors the series and she never disappoints, an excellent and consistent performance once again. I was sad to see so much criticism over a strong female lead and her character being a lesbian, as it seems so personal, instead of genuine criticism. A strong lead is a strong lead, but I suppose some people just don’t want to see a strong female at the focus, let alone a lesbian. The show makes no big show about the lesbian aspect of Janet, it is simply one of numerous traits, so I don’t understand the backlash there at all. The rest of the cast is solid as well, with returning talent from the first series (and Crownies), as well as some fresh faces here and there. I think this second series builds nicely off the first one, going a little further but staying faithful to the tone. Dusseldorp is a pleasure to watch here, I hope to see her in more movies/shows soon, hopefully given a chance to shine like she does here.
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