It’s becoming a familiar theme in TV dramas – the London detectives who move to quiet provincial towns but find themselves yearning for “the big cases and exciting days of old”.

“Be careful what you wish for!” said Lucy Mangan in The Guardian by way of advice to these fictional police officers. Because “from Midsomer to Grantchester, the Calder Valley to Shetland, nowhere is safe from TV writers”, said The Independent

Perhaps if these policemen and women had watched more British murder mysteries, they’d be aware that “behind the picture-book hills and lakes, stone-walled lanes, and villages with nothing more than a pub and post office, there is plenty to be feared”.

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Riya Ajunwa (Wunmi Mosaku) is one such former Metropolitan Police officer who relocated to the fictitious Lancashire town of Chadder Vale for her husband, who then left. 

Suffering from a “sense of being outside the action”, Riya soon has to draw together “disparate threads of local discontent: a missing Swedish tourist, a strange road traffic accident, and the re-emergence of a man, Eddie Wells (Barry Sloane), who she put away for a violent crime five years earlier”. And there’s also trouble at the bread factory and a “subplot involving protesters at a fracking site”.

Actor Andrew Buchan (“Broadchurch”, “The Crown”) makes “his screenwriting debut with this pleasingly off-kilter show that understands TV crime drama lore”, said Gabriel Tate in The Telegraph. Veering from “dark comedy to folk horror to backwoods puzzle box, touching on ecowarriors, left-behind communities” and the “isolating, anxiety-inducing effects of the teenage addiction to screens”, it “ends somewhere wholly unexpected… yet just about plausible”. 

“It should all make for a gripping mix,” said William Hosie in the London Evening Standard. But he feels it is trying to do too many things all at once. “Is ‘Passenger’ meant to be horror, crime thriller, or kitchen-sink satire? Who knows.”

The Guardian’s Mangan thinks the “mundane and the mystical” are kept in a “nice balance, each one enhancing the potential horror of the other”. The show “leans into its folkloric and televisual tropes”, she said, “while still delivering something that feels fresh and real”.

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