Vicky McClure and Johnny Harris star in this harrowing four-part thriller about a grieving mother’s relationship with the man she believes murdered her daughter.
Without Sin confronts every parent’s worst nightmare, and McClure is tasked with bringing an unimaginable scenario to life. The Nottingham-born actress plays Stella, a mournful mum tormented by the death of her teen daughter three years prior.
As the series begins, Stella has yet to come to terms with her grief, wracked with guilt and estranged from ex-husband Paul (Perry Fitzpatrick). But an opportunity for closure soon presents itself to the pair when convicted killer Charles (Johnny Harris) expresses his condolences and desire to atone for what he has taken from them.
The four-parter hauls a powerful subject within its first hour. Audiences will find themselves faced with doubts of their own morality, and human principles, as the series outwardly asks: how would you approach Stella’s turmoil?
Rather than questioning if Charles should be forgiven, Without Sin ponders whether a parent could find it in themselves to pardon such a person. An internalised conflict ensues within Stella, but as she seeks answers regarding the night of her daughter’s death, Charles throws her into quite the spin.
Now, an air of intrigue and uncertainty befalls not just Stella, but the viewers too. What truly happened that fateful night? Can Charles be trusted? Or is there a sinister plot awaiting Stella? It would appear the bereaved lead has reached the end of her tether.
With Paul eager to move on, Stella cannot escape the clutches of her own guilt. She is left vulnerable, and it’s unclear whether there is an elaborate mind game at play, or if Stella is right to trust the very person she believes destroyed her life. Nonetheless, a seed is planted for an embellishing gritty thriller.
Little is known about any character thus far. A lot of episode one builds towards the meeting between Stella and Charles, and its immediate aftermath. Flashbacks are teased in brief snippets, revealing crucial, but otherwise presumptive, details. Although, it is made clear by the episode’s end there may be something larger afoot than a case of theft gone tragically wrong.
Audiences, like Stella, are second-guessing themselves at every turning point. And this is only the beginning. Without Sin is aesthetically and thematically troubling; the finger could point to anyone as Stella’s world continues to unravel, and she realises she may not have known her daughter at all.
McClure makes a smooth transition into the role. Stella is loaded with self-blame and an inability to recuperate – unlike Paul, who is seemingly all too ready to leave the past behind him. This is a woman determined to seek justice, now confronted with trepidation and uncertainty.
Already, the tension between McClure and Harris is at a high, boiling over before the two have actually met on-screen. A futile hatred bubbles inside McClure’s Stella whilst Harris’ Charles borders on desperation; his words cut into Stella, taunting and patronising.
While Without Sin’s debut leaves much up for interpretation, the series holds plenty of potential, and looks to be developing into a slick thriller which will keep audiences on their toes. McClure folds into the reclusive disposition with ease, inwardly battling her own demons as everything she once thought she knew collapses. Viewers best prepare themselves for a turbulent journey ahead because this opening episode is certainly no walk in the park.
Without Sin premieres on ITVX on December 28, 2022.