BBC Two’s eagerly awaited new political drama MotherFatherSon kicked off tonight and the first episode packed a lot into its hour run time.
If you don’t want to read any spoilers about MotherFatherSon, we suggest you stop reading now.
Written by Tom Rob Smith (London Spy, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story), MotherFatherSon boasts a top-notch cast that includes Richard Gere (Pretty Woman), Helen McCrory (The Queen), Billy Howle (Dunkirk), Sarah Lancashire (Happy Valley), Sinead Cusack (Eastern Promises) and Paul Ready (Bodyguard). With such a pedigree involved with the show, expectations were very high and I’m pleased to report the first episode certainly didn’t disappoint.
Caden Finch (Billy Howle) is the Editor of The National Reporter, part of the media empire that his father Max (Richard Gere) owns. As the pressure starts to get too much for Caden, and his drug habit spirals out of control, he gets worked up when Max decides to pay a visit to the offices shortly after long-time reporter Maggie (Sinead Cusack) is ousted from her job.
Max is a tough-talking and cold human who uses his power for political sway and it’s established from the outset that his relationship with his son is strained. He longs for Caden to follow in his footsteps, but he’s painfully aware that Caden isn’t as tough as he needs to be to succeed in the media industry.
Within minutes of being in the building, Max is criticising and changing everything while Caden’s staff behave as if the Queen has come to visit. He also asks Caden if he’s ‘dealt with’ his mother Kathryn (Helen McCrory), which he hasn’t so he arranges to see her for lunch. Booking a quiet table in a back room, Caden shows Kathryn photos of her looking close with Scott (Joseph Mawle) one of the homeless men she knows at the shelter she’s been working at. Earlier in the episode Kathryn was called into the office by her boss after co-workers raised concerns about her relationship with Scott.
He warns her that a story is going to be sold about it and offers to cover it up with another story that she can control the narrative of. Kathryn isn’t interested and she insists the two have their dinner in the restaurant with the other diners. She gives the photos to a waiter to dispose of and then reduces Caden to tears by recalling a story from his youth where he cradled a dying seal on the beach.
Following lunch Kathryn takes herself to Scott’s halfway house where he reveals he wants to kiss her and she laps up the attention she’s getting without acting on it.
Caden agrees to go along with Max to visit MP Andrea Howard (Sarah Lancashire) who is running for election, while being miffed that his father went to see the Prime Minister without him. Max takes an instant liking to Andrea, despite wondering if she can actually win, and he’s not impressed when Caden breaks the family code and asks questions during the meeting.
Max insists on seeing his son’s penthouse apartment when he drops him off and he promptly continues to criticise his Caden’s choices and the way he lives. Once Max leaves, Caden invites a prostitute to the penthouse and he demands that she behave like she’s no idea what anything is or means, particularly when it comes to sex. He then aggressively has sex with her before allowing her to leave.
Getting dressed, Caden heads to the parking garage where he takes some pills in his car and flips out. He then reverses into another car in the garage and rolls out of his car to vomit. As he makes his way back up to his apartment, Caden suffers a stroke, wets himself and drops to the floor, lying motionless as the elevator doors try to close on his lifeless body.
Kathryn and Max rush to their son’s side as he undergoes surgery to try and save his life. Max is determined that Caden will leave and he recounts the story of how he almost died at birth. A brief bit of sniping ensues between Kathryn and Max but the two eventually go quiet as they watch their son fighting for his life.
Throughout the episode Maggie was seen meeting up with her former journalist colleague Nick (Paul Ready) who is investigating the murder of a private investigator who was looking into the case of a missing teenage girl. He asks Maggie for help and she agrees but only if he will help her take down Max and Caden, who she believes had something to do with it.
MotherFatherSon airs at 9pm Wednesdays on BBC Two.