Review: Retribution (One of Us)

John Lynch, Laura Fraser, Gary Lewis, Juliet Stevenson, Elizabeth Healey, Joe Dempsie, and Joanna Vanderham in Retribution

Retribution, called One of Us in its European release, is a 4 part mystery series now streaming on Netflix. It’s a dark family drama full of secrets and lies.  Some mild spoilers ahead.

I don’t know why Netflix decided Retribution was a better title than One of Us. The plot has much more to do with finding “one of us” than with any sort of retribution.

The writers Harry and Jack Williams somehow managed to squeeze a dense and layered mystery into 4 episodes, all the while throwing out confusing hints and suspicions about each of the characters. It takes a while to untangle.

The main plot involves a young married couple Grace (Kate Bracken) and Adam (Jeremy Neumark Jones) killed right after their wedding. Grace was hugely pregnant. Everyone immediately knew the killer was Lee Walsh (Owen Whitelaw).

John Lynch in Retribution
Bill

Adam and Grace had grown up side by side on two family farms, nestled away in the remote reaches of a glen in Scotland. The two families were feuding. On Grace’s side was her father Bill (John Lynch), her mother Moira (Julie Graham), and her younger brother Jamie (Christian Ortega). At this farm was an employee named Alistair (Gary Lewis).

Juliet Stevenson and Joe Dempsie in Retribution
Louise and Rob

On Adam’s side were his long absent father Peter (Adrian Edmondson), his mother Louise (Juliet Stevenson), his brother Rob (Joe Dempsie) and his sister Claire (Joanna Vanderham). Rob’s girlfriend Anna (Georgina Campbell) was there at the time, too.

Okay: big cast. It’s easier to keep sorted when you’re watching than just reading the names.

After Lee Walsh kills the young couple, he steals a car and heads off looking for the farms. Just as he finds them, he crashes his car. The two families are all in the same house hurling blame at each other for the deaths of their children when they hear the crash. They rescue Walsh and figure out who he is. Why he is there nobody seems to know. They put him in the barn in a locked cage.

In the morning, they find him dead. Stabbed. Obviously it was one of them. But which one? The rest of the episodes deal with unraveling that murder and with what it had to do with the murders of Adam and Grace.

Compounding the mystery is the fact that this group of mistrustful and unfriendly neighbors agree to bury the body and the car and pretend Lee Walsh never showed up on their road.

Laura Fraser in Retribution
The policewoman Juliet

Two cops Juliet (Laura Fraser) and Andrew (Steve Evets) investigate the murders of Adam and Grace. The clues don’t add up. At the farm, certain family members want to tell the truth. Much as they all blame each other and mistrust even the ones they love the most, the families agree no one must tell.

Among the complications and lies in these two families is Grace’s mom Moira. She was involved in an affair – maybe not her first. Grace’s father Bill has Parkinson’s Disease, which he’s hiding. Their son Jamie has a crush on Claire and hacked her phone and read all her text messages.

Georgina Campbell in Retribution
Anna

Anna was raped just weeks prior to the murders. Rob feels very protective toward her. Does it have anything to do with the murders?

As the tension mounts and the police come closer and closer to what’s happened the subplots add to the danger for everyone.

The policewoman has a daughter (Isis Hainsworth) with a brain tumor. To finance her medical help, Juliet’s been selling LSD. (Does anyone even still use LSD?) The guy she sold it to is picked up and threatens to talk.

Adam’s father decides to come to the farm. He blames himself for the whole thing, which doesn’t make a lot of sense at first. What he does about that guilt made even less sense to me.

Joanna Vanderham in Retribution
Claire

An older woman named Meredith (Anne Kidd) in the nursing home where Claire works keeps begging Claire to help her die. Claire is the most bothered by the morality of the lies to the police and by the morality of what Meredith is asking her to do.

The theme running through the series is what human beings are willing to do to protect the people they love. What can they overlook? What is unforgivable? How much will you lie to hide your sins? How much will you lie to hide the sins of someone else? Or, the reverse, how much will you allow others to suffer for your own sins?

You can see how family feuds are born in the remote hills of Scotland, because nobody trusts or believes anybody. Families have a code of protecting the family against all outsiders, but within the family they may turn against each other. Put two such families together in a Romeo and Juliette murder story and it gets messy and unpredictable.

While I found some of the plot points unlikely, all in all this was an engaging mystery. The setting in Scotland was beautiful. The actors did an excellent job. William McGregor directed all four episodes.

Have you seen this series? What did you think?

10 thoughts on “Review: Retribution (One of Us)”

  1. There is a scene in either episode 2 o 3- where a weeping man confesses to his pregnant wife that he had another family before her, and that the murdered man Adam (whose picture is in the paper) is his son. This means that Adam and Grace are not brother and sister, since Adam’s father was not the same man as Grace’s father.(and of course they had different mothers). The story line never returns to this man, Adam’s real father. Boy did they drop the ball.

    1. It’s been a while since I watched this one but I didn’t even pick up on a suggestion that Adam and Grace were brother and sister. The Parkinson’s test proved Jamie wasn’t really Bill’s, but that was the only thing I recall. You have an eye for details.

    2. They are brother and sister because the weeping man who is Adam’s father had an affair with Grace’s mom, Moira. Last scene of the 4th episode Bill confesses to everything.

    3. Helen – the weeping man was Adam’s father and had an affair with Moira, who became pregnant with Grace, therefore Adam and Grace are brother and sister. The last scene in episode 4 Bill, who is married to Moira confesses everything. There is also a science where the weeping man, says it was all his fault and steps in front of a truck.

      1. It’s been a while since I watched this series, but I recall him stepping in front of that truck as an accident. Rereading my review, however, I wrote about it as if it were deliberate.

  2. theres no such thing as a genetic test for parkinsons disease. how the f*ck did they not catch that??????? stopped watching right then, googled their mistake then found out that ‘test’ was the premise for the entire story.. omg give me my time back.

  3. This miniseries is theatrical from the get go. The plot is contrived and ludicrous. The acting lame. The setting could have been anywhere since there was nothing to tie it into the Scottish landscape and the accents are all over the map. How this can be considered to be a praise-worthy piece of writing and acting is beyond me. It just kept getting worse and worse. And when Andrew turned a blind eye to the drug dealing antics of his colleague (which had resulted in a young girl’s death, no less) she smiled like a delighted schoolgirl rather than a corrupt cop. Unbelievably bad series.

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