Why Keeley Hawes’ messy main character is the most relatable thing about Crossfire

BBC One’s Crossfire comes to a close tonight with an epic finale, but more than anything, viewers have resonated most with how complicated the lead character is. 

Warning: this article contains spoilers for BBC One’s Crossfire.

Who knew that over the course of just three episodes, Crossfire would fling us around on such an emotional rollercoaster?

After the series premiere to end all premieres (we didn’t pause for breath throughout), the following two episodes gave us further insight into the mass shooting and a little more information about the shooters themselves, but ultimately, we get to further explore the woman at the centre of the action – Jo, played by Keeley Hawes.

Early on in the series, we come to learn that Jo is not the reliable and trustworthy lead we expect from a first-person TV series narrative. But hold your reservations because that’s precisely why she’s so relatable.

Of course, a series centred around a gun attack in a holiday resort doesn’t, at first glance, scream out to us as the year’s most relatable plotline. But through Jo, her friendships, her marriage and her unflinching dedication to protecting her loved ones, her character holds relatable threads that many of us can pull out and hold onto.  

All episodes of Crossfire are available to stream on BBC iPlayer.

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Sure, she’s sending Chinar (Vikash Bhai), her best friend’s husband, suggestive texts, bikini-clad selfies and exchanging stolen glances – all while they’re on the same holiday together. But our thoughts were left to run wild in the first episode, and while the moral compass of her actions leaves a lot to be desired, we do come to learn that their flirty texting relationship never progressed to anything further. 

It’s enough to see Abhi (Anneika Rose) forgive Jo when, along with Miriam (Josette Simon), the trio of friends come together in the final episode for chats, emotional support and to share in their grief-stricken experience.

Essentially, Jo represents the messiness of life, and while her actions may not be the exact ones that many of us would choose to perform, she represents a changing narrative on television. Gone are the days when the series lead needs to be perfect, completely devoid of human emotion and interaction, and not relatable in the slightest. Her ‘messy’ nature is something that viewers have highlighted, and quite frankly, it’s refreshing to see a woman on TV who doesn’t have everything figured out and makes mistakes.

We see her living with the guilt of killing one of the shooters, and the scene replays in her mind, weighing on her conscience. It’s something we all do – rehashing life events, thinking about what we would or could have done. But in the final episode, she’s reckoning her actions with her inability to accept the ‘hero’ label that she’s been given on her arrival back in the UK. She’s done the unthinkable (in a good way), and yet she still can’t see herself as being worthy of the thanks and commendations that have been bestowed upon her. Relatable much? 

Keeley Hawes stars as Jo in BBC One’s Crossfire.

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While her relationship with Jason (Lee Ingleby) leaves us scratching our heads in dismay (let’s face it, Jason isn’t the most lovable character in the series), their connection represents the compromise and eventual fatigue that often comes with long-term relationships. They argue, bicker and exchange terse words, but a tragedy such as the one in the series only underlines the strength of their relationship.

In the final scene, we see her getting ready in her police uniform once again, signalling that she’s overcome those inner thoughts of not being good enough – something that has been mentioned in the series already – and has finally returned to her career. Who knew that a lead such as Jo, a celebrated national hero who excels in the face of travesty and fear, would suffer from imposter syndrome? 

And let’s face it, in an action thriller where it’s easy to let your thoughts run wild, it’s nice to have a character like Jo bring a great big slice of reality into the mix.

The final third episode of Crossfire airs tonight at 9pm on BBC One, with all three episodes available to stream on BBC iPlayer now. 

Images: BBC

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