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Watch the Trailer for Bloodlands, the Northern Irish Thriller Series I Am Now Obsessed With

James Nesbitt stars in the Acorn TV and BBC One thriller mystery Bloodlands

This weekend I got a sneak peek at Bloodlands, devouring the first two episodes of the four-part Acorn TV/BBC One mini-series set in Northern Ireland. Folks, I will be needing the next two episodes posthaste. And you are going to be right there with me when the show is released in March.

What got me to pull the trigger on Bloodlands is that it’s executive-produced by Jed Mercurio, the man behind Bodyguard and Line of Duty (see my previous obsession with Line of Duty). The show comes from writer/creator Chris Brandon, and Mercurio’s involvement indicated that if nothing else, I’d be in for an edgy, compelling thriller and wouldn’t be bored. This was correct! Bloodlands stars James Nesbitt (The Hobbit, Cold Feet) and a compelling cast in a knotty storyline that plunges us into modern-day Northern Ireland, still plagued by the ghosts of its past.

Northern Ireland is not a setting I’ve seen explored in a mystery/crime drama like this before. The ongoing politics are interesting to watch and the locations around Belfast and sweeping shots of loughs and islands set quite the immersive atmosphere.

American audiences may be more familiar with the historical backdrop due to the delightful Netflix sitcom Derry Girls, which often uses the sectarian tension of the ’90s to comedic effect. While several familiar faces from Derry Girls also show up in Bloodlands, there’s nothing funny here: we follow Nesbitt’s enigmatic detective Tom Brannick, “a man who embodies so many of the contradictions and conflicts of his world,” as a new case harkens back to a particularly fraught time during the Troubles and threatens to spill over into a Northern Ireland that still shows faultlines. Here’s the official synopsis:

When a car containing a possible suicide note is pulled out of the sea, Northern Irish police detective Tom Brannick (Nesbitt) quickly connects it to an infamous cold case with enormous personal significance – a series of mysterious disappearances over 20 years ago during a dark period in Northern Ireland history. Bloodlands follows his dogged hunt for a legendary assassin, an explosive cat-and-mouse game where the stakes have never been higher.

Everything seems pretty straightforward and even a bit trope-y at first, but the plot quickly becomes more slippery. Suffice it to say I can’t stop thinking about the twists and turns of this show and I have literally no idea where Bloodlands might go next. If you like a good mystery/thriller that will keep you guessing, Bloodlands will begin streaming on Acorn TV in March 2021 and on BBC One in the UK.

(image: Acorn TV)

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Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.