11 user 6 critic

Prime Suspect: The Scent of Darkness (1995)

A series of brutal sex murders disturbingly similar to the pattern of Superintendent Jane Tennison's (Dame Helen Mirren's) first major case leads to the awful suggestion that she may have caught the wrong man the first time.


Paul Marcus


Guy Hibbert
Won 1 Primetime Emmy. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Helen Mirren ... Supt. Jane Tennison
Pip Donaghy Pip Donaghy ... Len Sheldon
Tim Woodward ... George Marlow
Stephen Boxer ... Supt. David Thorndike
Hugh Simon ... Chief Inspector Finlay
Alan Leith Alan Leith ... Supt. Howell
Stuart Wilson ... Dr. Patrick Schofield
Penelope Beaumont Penelope Beaumont ... Dr. Elizabeth Bramwell
Christopher Ashley Christopher Ashley ... Antony Bramwell
Glen Berry Glen Berry ... Wayne
Joseph Kpobie ... Al
Otis Munyangiri Otis Munyangiri ... Pete (as Otis Munyang'iri)
Rebecca Thorn Rebecca Thorn ... Policewoman 1
Scott Neal Scott Neal ... Geoff
Christopher Fulford ... DCI Tom Mitchell


A series of horrific murders of women in a pattern very similar to a previous series of murders Superintendent Jane Tennison (Dame Helen Mirren) investigated lends support to a growing popular feeling that she arrested the wrong man, who has always claimed his innocence. Jane refuses to accept that possibility and orders her team to investigate the new murders to the exclusion of reviewing the older ones. The growing friction of the suspicions of her fellow officers and her own convictions lead to her being taken off the case as being biased. Now, she must try to restore her professional reputation while investigating elements of the case on her own. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


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Official Sites:

PBS/Masterpiece Theatre





Release Date:

15 May 1995 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Epäilyksen polttopiste: Pimeyden haju See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Granada Television, WGBH See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



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Did You Know?


The program Jane's (Dame Helen Mirren's) boyfriend is watching, as she tries to solicit his advice on her case, is an early Lee Evans sketch/stand-up show. See more »


Dr. Patrick Schofield: Sometimes you have to trust people.
See more »


Followed by Prime Suspect 5: Errors of Judgement (1996) See more »


Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)
Written by Harry Dacre
Background music at Pier
See more »

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User Reviews

Yelling and Screaming
13 January 2019 | by talula1060See all my reviews

It seemed like the absence of Lynda LaPlante was a major loss to the series and you can really feel it in this episode. Characters who never showed much emotion in previous episodes were suddenly screaming for no reason. I understand the theme of sexism but the chip on Mitchell's shoulder and the commander screaming at Jane was very unusual and seemed unprovoked.

The actor playing Mitchell was too overdramatic. The scene where he yelled at Richard was unexpected and seemed very unusual behavior for a guy who is angling for a promotion. Perhaps this character had issues. Since the show never bothered to let us in on them, it made for a confusing and ridiculous character arc. Why would a man who is trying to build a team to help him start screaming and slamming doors? Why was he so unwilling to properly investigate the case if he's trying to distinguish himself to the brass?

When the commander kept cutting Jane off when she tried to speak and then yelled over her, it was very out of character for him. In the past, he's been a stereotypical, uptight, British repressed type who wouldn't dream of raising his voice. Suddenly he's screaming at Jane because he's angry she didn't follow orders? Is this still about her being a woman? She's always gone her way and he's never reacted like this. She gets results and solves cases. Also it's the mid 90s so there are plenty of female officers in the police department in Britain. All the young rookies were laughing and making jokes openly against a superior officer? They don't even know her so what's their issue her? Just seems strange that they seem to be going backwards with women's rights in the police department when the rest of the country isn't fighting gender battles anymore. There have been female PMs and MPs so I'm not sure why they are still harping on the woman angle.

Sure, Jane has no bedside manner but only because she's had to fight for everything she's accomplished due to entrenched biases against her. Also, DCI Mitchell was an even bigger jerk than she was and a far less thorough detective so why are they still so hateful towards her? If there's a reason they don't like her, that's great. But they didn't let us in on it, so this made for a tough watch. It almost felt like they were trying to force drama in places it wasn't needed.

The actor playing Marlowe was grossly miscast. He looked like a criminal completely capable of taking lives. The great thing about the original Marlowe was he maintained his cavalier attitude throughout which made him scarier. The wide-eyed smiles were absent here because the actor playing him couldn't pull it off with his beady eyes.

For the first time I found myself wishing they would just let Tennison do her job and stop with all the department drama as it's getting very tired. If I wanted all that forced drama, I would watch Chicago PD. I'm still trying to figure out why they keep bouncing Tennison from station to station. When she became superintendent, didn't that mean she is in charge of one department like Kernan is? Why do they keep shifting her around? Everytime she's put on a case she's got to prove herself all over again and it's beyond annoying since the other officers would have heard of her track record and that would have earned her some respect.

On an unrelated note, this episode marks the end of Richard in the series which makes me sad because he's always been my favorite character.

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