Amidst an ever-more-crowded universe for streaming services, Peacock is emerging as a place that’s good at one very particular thing: Pulpy imports that pack fantastical intrigue into short runs, and that are better than they strictly need to be. After the surveillance drama “The Capture,” the streamer dives once again into sinister crime stories with “Departure,” a drama that will hook those who seek from their viewing a charge of adrenaline, if not always the most rigorously challenging of mysteries.
On the series, a co-production between Canada and the U.K. that aired in 2019 internationally, Archie Panjabi of “The Good Wife” plays Kendra Malley, an investigator looking into the case of a downed jetliner with only one survivor (Rebecca Liddiard). Her mentor, Howard Lawson (Christopher Plummer), urges her along until he pulls her back, all the while operating with a Plummer-ish suavity and silkiness; isolated from her peers and in the midst of somewhat by-the-numbers family crisis, Kendra goes rogue to crack the case of how this happened and to work to ensure it won’t happen again.
All of this has the gleeful willingness to reshuffle the board familiar from similar six-episode Brit-inflected dramas; it’s not exactly “Bodyguard,” but it shares that show’s agreeably loose relationship with plausibility. The urgency here comes from Panjabi’s performance — an Emmy-winning supporting actor on “The Good Wife,” she’s a compelling series lead, serving show-anchoring strength and plausible anxiety in equal measure. If other characters, like an MI5 officer played by Claire Forlani, tend towards the loosely sketched, Panjabi fills in the gaps, creating a protagonist worth following. She has a game scene partner in Plummer, whose now-decadelong third or fourth act audiences are lucky to have a chance to witness; his insinuating velvetiness placed in counterpoint to Panjabi’s steel spine makes for a drama that punches above its weight.