Dusan Mesic (Anton Lesser) is a Bosnian-Serb leader who has come to London in order to participate in the ongoing peace talks. Worrell is assigned to be his close protection agent, but he’s thrown into a spin when terrorists kidnap his wife, Pat (Kate Fenwick), and daughter, Gemma (Laura Harling).
They plan to assassinate Mesic shortly after he leaves a memorial service held aboard HMS Belfast. If Worrell leaves enough space for the sniper to take a shot, then his wife and child will be released unharmed – which leaves Worrell with an impossible dilemma, his family or his duty?
Although we’re given a little background about Mesic, both from the man himself and the pair – Ivan (Boris Boscovic) and Marija (Yolanda Vazquez) – holding Pat and Gemma hostage, he’s not the focus of the episode. Mesic maintains that he wasn’t responsible for the massacre in his home village whilst Ivan and Marija are convinced that he is. Both Ivan and Marija lost their own children (later discovered in a mass grave) which answers Pat’s question as to how they could threaten a seven year old child like Gemma. We do learn that Mesic is a skilled and charming politician, but it’s left to the audience to decide whether he personally had blood on his hands.
In many ways, Mesic simply exists in order to provide Worrell with a moral dilemma. After he’s received the call from Ivan, we see him visibly sag – can he really go through the day pretending nothing has happened, or will he have confide in someone? The tension is unresolved for a few minutes, but eventually he does speak to MacIntyre. This then allows the narrative to be split in three directions – Worrell returns to guard Mesic, MacIntyre heads off to locate the sniper’s position whilst Liz and a number of others monitor Pat’s house
Once again, it’s Pertwee who dominates proceedings as events play out to their bleak conclusion. The sniper is caught and killed before he can make an attempt on Mesic’s life, but when Liz and the others storm the house, Pat is killed in the crossfire. It’s a jarring moment which causes both Worrell and Liz to reflect on the choices they’ve made.
Liz blames herself for Pat’s death, but then so does Worrell. The ending, as Worrell comforts a distressed Gemma (reliving her mother’s death), is as downbeat a moment as you could hope for. Worrell did the right thing professionally, but the personal damage has been immense.
Broadcast a year after the pilot, A Choice of Evils was an arresting way to open the series proper. It increases Worrell’s emotional baggage and it’ll be interesting to see how this is dealt with as the series progresses.