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Netflix's 'Collateral' Delivers Intrigue Along with its Pizza
March 9, 2018  | By David Hinckley



At first it seems like the most random murder of the whole TV season: A South London pizza deliverer is shot twice in the chest as he leaves the building where he made the delivery...

Collateral, a four-part closed-end Netflix miniseries that becomes available Friday (March 9), weaves a much more complex story around the death of Abdullah Asif (Sam Otto). Written by David Hare and coproduced by Netflix and the BBC, Collateral packs a remarkably disparate crowd of characters into its elaborate drama.

Several broader motifs remain consistent through the show as well, including the hot-button real-life topic of immigration. Asif and his two sisters came to the U.K. from Syria, where war made life almost unlivable. When the sisters are located after Asif’s death, they are living in conditions that don’t seem like much of an upgrade from a refugee camp – except, ironically, they now shouldn’t have to be in constant fear for their lives.

Collateral paints an immigrant’s life these days as tense and unsettled, because even those holding legal papers don’t necessarily feel secure. They sense that any interaction with government entities could jeopardize their status.

As a result of that omnipresent fear, the sisters are reluctant to provide any information about the murder victim, which frustrates investigating officer Kip Glaspie (Carey Mulligan). For one thing, she and her partner on the case, Nathan Bilk (Nathaniel Martello-White), have already talked to enough people whose responses seem a little off.

And Karen Mars (Billie Piper), recipient of Asif’s last delivery, just laughs when Nathan asks why she apparently chucked the pizza into a corner on the floor.

Linh Xuan Huy (Kae Alexander), the only witness to the murder, doesn’t want to get involved with the police because she has overstayed her student visa.

Jane Oliver (Nicola Walker), a local pastor, is Linh’s protector and maybe more. She clearly has something weighing on her conscience.

Laurie Stone (Hayley Squires), manager of the pizzeria where Asif worked, has no explanation for why at the last minute she sent Asif on that delivery instead of her other guy, Mikey Gowans (Brian Vernet).

Oh, and Mikey has some secrets, too.

David Mars (John Simm), a member of Parliament, might seem like the outlier in this group, except he was married to Karen and he signed Linh’s student visa application. 

Sandrine Shaw (Jeany Spark), a British Army captain, also shows up, along with some government intelligence officers. By this point we’re convinced: This was not a random shooting.

Much of the intrigue with Collateral lies in the way Hare takes these seemingly unrelated characters and steers them all to a common nexus where Abdullah Asif may not be the only one in danger of a bad outcome.

Collateral doesn’t get overtly preachy about politics, particularly the politics of immigration, but alongside the central drama of the police investigation, there’s little doubt Hare finds the current mood on immigration troubling.

And Kip Glaspie feels the same way about what she discovers behind Adullah Asif’s murder...

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