The Tourist review: Jamie Dornan returns with a twisty-turny, blackly comic thriller of a new series
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The Tourist (BBC1, Mon/Tues, 9pm) was one of the biggest hits of 2022, despite first airing on the first day of the year.
A tale of a man (Jamie Dornan) marooned in the Australian Outback with no memory after a car crash, it was violent, intriguing, funny and – bizarrely – romantic.
This second series kicked off with the romance between Elliot – as we discovered his name was – and ex-Outback copper Helen (Danielle MacDonald) to the fore, gap-yearing it through south-east Asia with nothing more than love, very strong Thai weed and Elliot's trusty Vietnamese cigarette lighter.
Helen hands Elliot a letter from a mysterious 'Tommy', who apparently knew Elliot back in Ireland, and one quick cut later, we're back on the Emerald Isle and Elliot has been kidnapped by a gang of balaclava-ed rogues.
It's a breakneck start, and the first episode rarely lets up, mainly making mincemeat of Elliot in various ways, which Dornan plays as a bit of an inconvenience despite most of the blows he takes being enough to stun Giant Haystacks.
Elliot gets glass in his hand, endures a rough landing after breaking out of the kidnappers' van, gets repeatedly punched in the face and takes a long fall down an Irish glen-side.
It suits the tone of The Tourist, though, that this is the type of rock-punctuated tumble that Homer Simpson often endures – and Elliot seems to shake it off.
There are definitely more laughs to be had here than in the first series, which concentrated more on Elliot's trauma as he gradually uncovers the kind of man he was before the accident which caused him to lose his memory.
As Elliot is being kidnapped, he asks if they're working for the drug dealing baddie from series one.
“Do you work for Kosta? He's the only one who wants me dead,” he says.
“Why would a coffee shop want you dead?” comes the reply.
As well as more laughs, this second series ups the weirdness. This is weird in itself, as anyone who's been to the Australian Outback will tell you that it's one of the weirdest places on earth.
This corner of Ireland, however, seems to be populated by oddballs. Garda detective Ruairi Slater (Conor MacNeill) is clearly a man full of inadequacies, which mask his real personality. Then there's Elliot's mum Niamh Cassidy (played by celebrated Irish actress Olwen Fouere), who as well as being a concerned mother is also not averse to the odd unpleasant knife-related incident.
Meanwhile, after being recaptured by the kidnappers following a foot chase, Elliot awakes to find himself in a sort of DIY escape room, complete with recently-slaughtered pig and a baby monitor in place of a walkie-talkie.
All this oddness could play into a sort of twee 'Oirish' mistiness, but The Tourist is much to bloodthirsty for that.
And the closing scenes involving a downed aeroplane and mysterious phone-caller set everything up for yet more questions for Elliot to answer – questions which definitely do not involve singalongs in pubs and the Blarney Stone.
The Tourist isn't going to make you ponder the essence of life, but it's a twisty-turny thriller with more than it's share of laugh-out-loud moments, black comedy and the odd shocking burst of violence.
And Dornan, as the perma-confused Elliot, is a terrific lead, taking us through the action as his memory is jolted back to life, punch by punch, blow by blow.
A wonderful start then, and if The Tourist keeps up the pace, it sets a high bar for the rest of 2024 to follow.