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Wreck series two review: Bigger, badder, bloodier, and funnier than before

Series two of the slasher-horror from Ryan J. Brown delivers on promises to ramp up the action and horror after series one

4.0 rating

By Alastair James

Wreck (Image: BBC)

When the second series of the slasher-horror series Wreck was announced back in October 2022, writer-creator Ryan J. Brown promised a show that was “bigger and bloodier”. The second series delivers that and more returning to our screens not just bigger and bloodier, but also badder and funnier.

Months on from the end of series one Jamie (Oscar Kennedy), Vivian (Thaddea Graham), and Lauren (Amber Grappy) lead efforts to bring Velorum down after exposing its insidious plot on board The Sacramentum. At the same time, Velorum resumes its murderous actions after paying off crew members.

Wreck wastes no time in reuniting all our heroes and establishing the stakes. It is all the better for this as it launches us into the action as the central gang – Jamie, Vivian, Lauren, Rosie (Miya Ocego), Cormac (Peter Claffey), and Sophia (Alice Nokes) – sets off to Solvenia to disrupt Velorum’s latest venture, a wellness festival hiding mysterious but evil plans.

With Wreck series two, Brown has dialled everything up in what is a more confident, smarter, and bolder showing. After wisely spending series one focused on characters, there is a greater emphasis on the horror-slasher-thriller aspects of the show. And there are some truly gripping moments and sequences throughout. Similarly, the comedy has been upped with many laugh-out-loud moments and lines adding some levity to the otherwise dark tones.

Brown has once again crafted a refreshing narrative around queer characters that doesn’t focus purely on their queerness. Those parts of them are acknowledged but are almost secondary to the challenges at hand. As discussed with Attitude before, queerness prepares those characters for the trials they face, something openly acknowledged in a touching scene between Rosie and Sophia mid-series. Brown’s success also invites a discussion about what makes a series an ‘LGBTQ+ series’ in 2024. While it feels like an appropriate descriptor here, does a series need to focus purely on LGBTQ+ identities and issue? Or can it be like Wreck which places queer characters front and centre but has them dealing with other things?

The performances from the cast are all brilliant. Kennedy makes for a compelling lead whose drive to take down Velorum blinds him to struggles going on around him. The events of series two have a profound impact on Jamie and what he might do next. Graham is great as Vivian who is reeling from the trauma of the first series and finds an unlikely friend to unpack it with. We see Vivian’s internal struggle as well as how series one has impacted her externally as well.

Ocego, Claffey, Grappy, and Nokes all relish and deliver in greatly expanded roles. Ocego lights up the screen every time she appears and bounces well off Claffey’s always-charming Cormac, both creating a sweet and easy-to-root-for relationship. Grappy seems ideally placed to fill the position of the group’s moral centre, especially as the world around them crumbles. Nokes manages her character’s arc from series one well, bestowing Sophia with a relatability in the face of adversity. The despicable Beaker (played brilliantly by Warren James Dunning) is back with a vengeance after being beaten and left with an arrow in his chest. And new additions like Niamh Walsh’s Devon Devereaux and Sam Buttery’s Jean add to the already excellent cast.

Overall Wreck series two is a step up from series one, which was pretty good to begin with. Brown has stated in the past he had a three-series plan for Wreck from the out-set. After a gripping second series that seems to perfectly cue up a third, we certainly feel like we need another to bring this story to a truly satisfying conclusion.

Wreck is streaming on the BBC and Player now.