Marcella sees Anna Friel's detective infiltrating a Belfast gang

Marcella returns with a bang! Viewers left in shock by twist as the ITV crime drama’s third series gets underway with Anna Friel’s detective infiltrating a Belfast gang

  • SPOILER ALERT: Marcella viewers ‘gripped’ after season’s premiere tonight 
  • First episode of third series saw Anna Friel’s detective Marcella go undercover 
  • Took on the name Keira Devlin to infiltrate one of Belfast’s most notorious gangs
  • Viewers said they were left in shock by the twist ending of the first show

Viewers were left in shock by the return of Marcella after the hit ITV crime drama returned to their screens this evening.

The first episode of the third series saw Anna Friel’s detective Marcella Backland go undercover and take on the name Keira Devlin to infiltrate one of Belfast’s most notorious gangs, the Maguire family.

At the end of the second series in 2018, viewers were left reeling after witnessing Marcella become scarred both mentally and physically as she investigated crimes involving serial killers, paedophiles and witchcraft.

But she was eventually recruited into an undercover police unit and tonight’s episode showed just how far Marcella would go to help bring down the Maguire family – including snitching on her boyfriend for embezzling company money.

While he was shot in the head by the family, Keira, Marcella’s alias, is left becoming closer to the criminals as she continues her affair with Finn (Aaron McCusker), one of two sons belonging to the cold-hearted matriarch Katherine (Amanda Burton).

One viewer said: ‘This was her way in to the crime family then #marcella’. 

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The first episode of the third series saw Anna Friel’s detective Marcella Backland (pictured) go undercover and take on the name Keira Devlin to infiltrate one of Belfast’s most notorious gangs, the Maguire family

Marcella was recruited into an undercover police unit and tonight’s episode showed just how far Marcella would go to help bring down the Maguire family – including snitching on her boyfriend for embezzling company money (pictured together)

Viewers were left in shock when it was revealed Marcella snitched on her boyfriend for embezzling money from the family 

Another added: ‘#Marcella this has taken a much darker turn’. 

A third tweeted: ‘Keep your friends close but your enemies closer !!’

At the start of the episode, having formed a relationship with Lawrence, the accountant for the Maguire’s business, Marcella was deep behind enemy lines as her alias Keira Devlin. 

She had a distinct new look – embracing blonde locks and sexier outfits – but the faint outline of the scar on her face is still visible. 

While he was shot in the head by the family, Keira, Marcella’s alias, is left becoming closer to the criminals as she continues her affair with Finn (Aaron McCusker), one of two sons belonging to the cold-hearted matriarch Katherine (Amanda Burton) (pictured centre)

At the start of the episode, having formed a relationship with Lawrence, the accountant for the Maguire’s business, Marcella was deep behind enemy lines as her alias Keira Devlin (pictured)

Revealed: How the third series of Marcella is spookily prophetic 

The presence in the new series of Marcella of gangster Rory Maguire, who’s obsessive about cleanliness and reluctant to leave his home, is chillingly prescient in these Covid times.

Pictured: Finn, Katherine and Rory Maguire in Marcella

But the tragic scenes that show a lorry at Belfast docks containing the bodies of ten dead trafficked workers draw on a news story that preceded the horrifying incident of 39 Vietnamese immigrants found dead in a truck in Essex in 2019. 

‘I wrote that part of the story two years ago, and in my mind was an event from 2015,’ previously explained series co-creator Hans Rosenfeldt. 

‘A group of immigrants was discovered dead inside a lorry in Austria. The link between the storyline in Marcella and the terrible discovery in Essex is entirely coincidental.’

To get closer to the family and prove her alliance, Marcella snitched on her lover and revealed he’s been embezzling company money – despite him proposing to her.

After refusing to marry him, the close associate was assassinated with a single shot to the head following the discovery of his betrayal while the couple were at a dinner party at the family’s home.

As far as the Maguires are concerned, Marcella’s a former police officer drummed out of the force in Manchester after she was found to be corrupt who’s now back in her native Northern Ireland. 

Following Lawrence’s death, she moved into the family home and continued her affair with Finn, while trying to win over Katherine. 

The Maguire’s stock-in-trade is extortion and intimidation, and they were responsible for the ten trafficked workers found dead in a sealed lorry at Belfast docks during the episode.

The family business is run by matriarch Katherine and her two sons; the OCD suffering Rory and the tempestuous Finn. They have deep pockets and control the local police.

Katherine’s daughter, Stacey, is heavily pregnant and married to reckless and dangerous Bobby who works for the business but has a secret drug deal as a sideline.

Meanwhile, former Brookside star Anna, 44, has spent the past five years inhabiting Marcella, and yet she almost turned the role down.

‘The truth is I didn’t think I could offer anything new or different to the world of TV detectives,’ she explained to the Daily Mail’s Weekend Magazine. 

‘But the director said, “Let’s start and you’ll see how you can do it” and, gradually, I became more confident about making Marcella significantly different.

‘Key to the portrayal was emphasising her unpredictability, her fearlessness and the fact that she’s so lonely and doesn’t think she’s good at anything apart from her job. 

‘But it was a close call. I often convince myself I can’t do a job and I almost talked myself out of this one.’

Anna may not be finished with the role that she so very nearly said no to.  Although Marcella was originally written as a three-series trilogy, the show’s Swedish co-creator Hans Rosenfeldt hints that there might be more.

‘This new series has a definite ending – audiences won’t be left guessing,’ he says. ‘But there’s an opening there for it to continue. So maybe we will see Marcella again…’

Marcella is on ITV, Tuesdays at 9pm.

The family business is run by matriarch Katherine and her two sons; the OCD suffering Rory and the tempestuous Finn (pictured)

Katherine’s daughter, Stacey, is heavily pregnant and married to reckless and dangerous Bobby (pictured together) who works for the business but has a secret drug deal as a sideline

What happened in season two of Marcella?

In series two of Marcella, her husband Jason cheated on her then left her. 

He later gained custody of their children Edward and Emma when Marcella became aware that she was a danger to them because of her unpredictable periods of amnesia.

Tragically, under hypnosis, she also discovered that she was responsible for the accidental death of her baby daughter Juliet.  

Simply unable to cope with being Marcella any more, she was only prevented from committing suicide when colleague and friend DCI Rav Sangha talked her down from the roof of the police station as she gazed over the edge.  

Given a second chance, she reached out for a new life and a new identity – and got lucky. The woman she’d swapped DNA cheek swabs with in series one died in a fire, just as Marcella disappeared off the radar and started to live rough. 

Badly burnt, the woman could only be identified by the DNA that was thought to be hers, which meant Marcella was declared legally dead and therefore free to reinvent herself as a different person. 

That’s when, at the end of the last series, Frank Young (Hugo Speer) invited her to join his undercover police unit.

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