15 September 2020 | TheLittleSongbird
Death in the slow lane
"The Ties That Bind" was one of the few Burke-period 'Taggart' episodes that was seen for the first time by me after the show had finished. Can't really think of a reason why, other than that the later Burke-period episodes tended to be aired more when first getting into 'Taggart'. Really loved the idea for the story, though there was the worry as to whether it would be convoluted or be complex enough without going too far that way.
Luckily, to me "The Ties That Bind" was in the latter category. While the Taggart and Jardine periods were superior and more consistent, the period with Burke in charge did have some great episodes. "The Ties That Bind" is one of those, and one of the best. It was a little confusing to me on first watch, which was about a decade ago and when not in the right mindset, but on re-watches the plotting is a lot clearer and actually found more to appreciate.
It is well-made visually, with the usual grit and moodiness in the photography. The striking is both picturesque and unforgiving. The music matches that perfectly and the main theme is not one to forget.
From a writing point of view, it has the right amount of entertainment value (the banter) and grit (in the crime solving it doesn't shy away). The story is a complex one with many unexpected twists and turns, all plausible and don't feel too many. Doing so without being incoherent and it is always involving, plus its approach to such a gritty plot line is very pull no punches.
All four lead characters work cohesively, with plenty of amusing banter and hard boiled edge in their interaction with each other, and shine in their own way. With "The Ties That Bind" being one of Burke's most interesting episodes as an individual character.
Overall, wonderful. 10/10