Episode two kicks off with a bang as the self-styled leader of the Liberation Militia, Shaun Dingwall’s Jack Dorn, declares “another day in the death of Albion!” to a room of vocal supporters.
While Sephy (Masali Baduza) is questioning the status quo, Callum (Jack Rowan) and the other nought recruits are being antagonised by their Cross superiors at Mercy Point. In one pointed scene, Callum’s friend Elaine fields lewd comments from Lekan and his friend Barnaby about how “crazy” nought women are in bed (a clever play on the racist tropes that women of colour often deal with on the dating scene).
Ahead of passing in of the new Mercy Point intake, crowds of Crosses are protesting outside the military academy about the noughts’ attendance in an echo of the real-life Little Rock Nine case. Again, the show does an excellent job of showing both the obvious signs of inequality and the less obvious ones – I found it particularly poignant that, after greeting the Hadleys walking into Mercy Point, Callum’s parents had to go through a different entrance with a metal detector.
As the troops come out, Sephy can barely keep her eyes off Callum. However, everyone’s attention soon switches to Kamal’s induction speech in which he warns: “I urge you, Crosses and noughts alike, to protect your identity… there is strength in difference.” I could feel chills running down my spine as the implications for our beloved characters sunk in, and by the looks on their faces they felt the same way!
Despite her father’s words, Sephy sneaks away with Callum as soon as she can and they are again discovered by an increasingly suspicious Lekan. Undeterred, the two arrange to meet up in a sketchy part of town called Sanctus. Before he heads there, Callum gets an unexpected visitor – Lekan, who apparently wants to get to know him better. Callum pretends he’s busy but Lekan isn’t convinced and waits to follow his love rival.
I loved the aesthetics of Sanctus. The neon-lit alleyways filled with shady figures in dark corners are both alluring and seedy. Here, Sephy and Callum enter a secret club where other mixed couples are getting intimate. Sephy confesses her feelings for Callum, as well as her “total incomprehension and terror” about the situation. Callum suggests this could be “the best bit” of their relationship, before they have to deal with the negative consequences, and the two dance then decide to rent a room.
In the bedroom, they both feel awkward and nervous. I have to commend both Masali Baduza and Jack Rowan for their portrayal of the desire and hesitance their characters feel at this point, which opens our eyes to how taboo their love is. As Callum heads down to the bar to get more drinks, he comes across a furious Lekan smashing up the dance floor. Before he’s seen, Callum runs back to the bedroom and tries to force open the window while Sephy watches Lekan tear down the corridor through the keyhole. The tension is palpable as Lekan gets closer, but he is distracted by his discovery of Elaine and Barnaby together in a room and Callum and Sephy manage to escape.
Elsewhere, Dorn is arrested and gets a visit from Kamal Hadley in prison. The Home Secretary tells the rebel leader: “You want the PM gone, I want the PM gone, which means we have business together”. What is Kamal planning? And will Dorn play his game?
Sephy finally breaks up with Lekan, but he refuses to accept it at first, insisting: “This is about preserving continuity”. Sephy pushes back and tells him she wants “better” than their relationship. When she shares the news of her breakup with Callum, she asks him the question we’re all thinking at home: “So, how is this all going to end?”
And as well as that, there are a few other questions I have before the next episode…
Will Sephy and Callum be discovered?
At the moment, it seems like more of a question of when rather than if Sephy and Callum’s forbidden love will be found out. Several other characters are getting suspicious, but who will uncover their secret? Lekan is a definite contender. Not only has he noticed the “curious timing” of Sephy’s decision to break up with him just after reconnecting with Callum, he’s found them alone together more than once. And Elaine has hinted to him that his suspicions are justified in an attempt to detract attention from her own hook up with Barnaby. Then there’s Meggie (Helen Baxendale), who overhears Sephy making excuses to avoid meeting up with Lekan just before she comes downstairs dressed up for a date, on the same night that Callum is out of the house. Will she get the truth out of either of them? I’d rather it was her than Lekan…
What does Kamal really want?
In this episode, Kamal orchestrates Dorn’s arrest supposedly because he wants to stop the Liberation Militia, but the Home Secretary’s reasons may not be that straightforward. He reveals to Dorn that he wants to bring down the Prime Minister Opal Folami, and he’s willing to conspire with the enemy to do it. The two politicians disagree on lots of issues – Kamal certainly isn’t a fan of the PM’s plan for an independent enquiry into police brutality, and she’s called him out for his views on segregation. Does he want her out of the way so he can take her place?
Again, who is Yaro?!
Meggie spots Yaro on her way to the passing in and after she tells Kamal, he asks the Deputy Commissioner of the police force to find out where Yaro is staying. Why does Kamal want to track the young man down? Well, I have a theory,
Having now seen Yaro, I think that we can make the educated guess that he is half-Cross and half-nought. Is Kamal a bit more closely related to him than he’s letting on? Watch this space…
The next episode of Noughts and Crosses will air on Thursday 12 March at 9pm.
Click here for our recap of episode one.
Images: BBC One
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