Streaming Adventures: The Tower Season 2: Death Notice Review

This article contains spoilers for The Tower 

I watch a lot more British TV shows than the ones I’m assigned to write about. This new blog series Streaming Adventures will feature reviews of new releases and first-time viewings of older series on streaming services. 

I watched The Tower Season 1 on US BritBox as soon as it premiered in December 2021. I never read Kate Harbison’s novels but I recognized Jimmy Ackinbola and Gemma Whelan from previous roles. I liked Season 1 overall for discussing and critiquing police institutional racism, sexism, and hierarchy. 

The Tower Season 2: Death Notice follows three different cases. DCI Sarah Collins is given a cold case murder from 1997 to investigate new leads on. PC Lizzie Adama ends up wrapped in a domestic violence dispute which turns deadly. DC Steve Bradshaw is investigating a possibly gang-connected shooting at a local takeout restaurant. Along with these cases, the officers have to juggle the bureaucracy and personal conflicts with their fellow officers. 

One case involves finding new evidence to close a cold case murder of a young teenage girl named Tania in 1997. Sarah is assigned to this cold case because her supervisor doesn’t want to do the work. This plotline had a “ripped from the headlines” feel which isn’t a bad thing in a police procedural. The audience can easily empathize with Sarah’s desire to see Tania’s murderer pay for the crimes they got away with. While some in the audience may feel the messaging is heavy-handed, these plots are relatable on both sides of the Atlantic. I liked this plotline the most. 

Steve’s investigation into the takeout restaurant shooting did not get as much screentime as the other two cases throughout the season. I wanted more scenes where Steve was talking to witnesses or following physical evidence. I am not sure if this was because Jimmy Ackingbola had a scheduling conflict but do hope that Season 3 gives Steve more screen time. 

While Lizzie’s domestic violence dispute investigation had the most intense action of the season, it was also the plotline that I had the hardest time enjoying as a mystery/procedural fan. Lizzie instinctively picks up upon the fact the woman is too afraid to have police arrest her boyfriend. She then makes a rash decision that the boyfriend ends up exploiting to evade arrest. Lizzie is initially chastized but the events of the investigation prove that her initial instincts were indeed correct. 

There are times throughout the season when Lizzie is portrayed as both naive and brave which is rare with Black women characters and there are times when she dances dangerously close to stereotypes. I was disappointed to see Lizzie restart her affair with Kieran despite knowing he was still married. I was hoping to see her break things off much earlier in the season instead of toward the end when she realizes Kieran is using her both professionally and emotionally to get ahead. In the last episode of the season, a doctor tells her she is pregnant after an exam for unrelated injuries. I was not pleased with this development at all for Lizzie because it is too close to the “tragic mulatto” trope, especially with the conversations around workplace sexual harassment. This plotline if it happened to a white woman would not have the same historical negativity attached to it.

Overall, I liked Season 2 of The Tower but I enjoyed Season 1 more. Season 2 still has a lot to offer fans of realistic and suspenseful police/mystery procedurals. However, my life experiences inform the way I observe characters. I believe The Tower Season 3 still has a lot of potential if Black women screenwriters or sensitivity readers are used in the screenwriting process. I have hope for next season that Lizzie will prioritize her needs and for Steve to prioritize taking criminals off the street and his career over what Kieran wants for both of them to do. I also want to see Sarah continue to prove her bosses wrong.