“The most spectacular mass murder in British history is discovered,” read a headline in EL PAÍS from February 1983. In the garden of a house in a north London neighborhood they were found by chance (a clog in the drain, a suspicious smell detected by the neighbors and a poor plumber who discovers the whole cake) the mutilated remains of what turned out to be 15 young men. The rest of the house also kept surprises like two heads hidden in a drawer. The perpetrator of the murders, which took place between 1978 and 1983, was Dennis Nilsen, a quiet Scottish civil servant. He soon confessed and offered to help the police. However, there was a small problem: he did not remember the identities of his victims.
Des, a three-chapter miniseries available on Starzplay, brings this sounded case to the screen in a remarkable true crime that follows the turns that this story took, which is presented to viewers from the prism of three of its protagonists: the suspect himself, a police officer in charge of the investigation and a writer, Brian Masters, interested in meeting the murderer to write his biography. The plot is based on the dialectical duels that the policeman and the writer, separately, have with Des (as Dennis Nilsen was known), talks that are reminiscent in form and depth of those of the Mindhunter policemen with the serial killers whose minds they want. understand. At the end of the day, here it is not about knowing whether or not he committed the murders, that is taken for granted from the first minute. It is about delving into his head to try to find out the identities of those killed.
To play this amiable killer (his victims were young men he met in bars and offered a roof over the night after gaining their trust), David Tennant turns out to be the best decision. Beyond the characterization work, Tennant manages to transmit a chill with his expressionless, calm, serene face, the attitude of someone who totally controls the situation and sets the rhythm at which the puppets he directs dance. With his coldness, he perfectly portrays the character and gives a very particular tone to the series, which takes place at a leisurely pace, but still manages to advance quickly in the story to review the entire case, including the trial, in just three hours . Tennant is well accompanied by actors Daniel Mays as the baffled cop at first and obsessed with the case later, and Jason Watkins as the biographer whose opinion of his interviewee changes as he digs through his mind.
In a television panorama in which it is rare the week in which at least one new production based on true crimes does not arrive, Des manages to stand out with his sobriety, his British effectiveness and a performance that, with its coldness, gives you goosebumps .
All premiere and return dates, in the Fifth Season series calendar
More series recommendations and all the television news, every Thursday in the EL PAÍS Television newsletter. Subscribe for free.