'The Capture' Envisions a World Where Fake News Meets Deepfakes and Corrupts the Government

The Capture
Holliday Grainger stars as DI Rachel Carey and Paapa Essiedu stars as Isaac Turner MP in "The Capture." (Peacock)

In the summer of 2020, the UK spy series "The Capture" was the highlight of the first batch of original programming when Peacock launched. Unfortunately, the streaming service took a long time to gain any traction, and most viewers missed one of the best shows of the year.

Back home, "The Capture" was a sensation when the first season broadcast on the BBC, and season two launched in one of the network's most important time slots earlier this fall.

We're getting the second season of "The Capture" here in the United States when all six episodes drop on Peacock on Nov. 3, 2022. The new season is just as good as the first and features a satisfying ending that tells a complete story over the two-season run.

Season one of "The Capture" followed police Detective Inspector Rachel Carey (Holliday Grainger) as she tried to uncover what really happened when a British military veteran is accused of murdering the defense attorney who just got him acquitted in a war crimes trial.

There's CCTV surveillance camera footage that purports to capture him committing the crime, but there's evidence that something's not right with the image, and DI Carey uncovers a plot that reaches to the highest levels of the British security service.

Related: 'Peacock' Adds Some Espionage to Home Video Streaming

For season two, the threat of image manipulation has crossed over to the media. A government security minister is baffled when the interviews he gives are completely different when broadcast. The person on camera looks just like him but is touting political positions that are 100% at odds with his personal beliefs.

Who's behind the new technology? Is it the Chinese, the Americans or maybe the Russians? Carey is now working from the inside to sort out the truth. If you love 1970s conspiracy thrillers like "Three Days of the Condor," then "The Capture" updates those paranoid vibes for an online world.

"The Capture" was created and written by showrunner Ben Chanan. He took some time to talk about the show with us. The show’s second season adds alarm about deepfakes, the process of adding computer-generated people to existing video footage, to its ongoing concerns about CCTV.

"We have a lot of CCTV cameras in the UK," said Chanan. "I think London's the most watched city outside of China. I think Beijing, or maybe Shanghai, may be the most watched city, but London is certainly the most watched city in Europe. You have them in the U.S. as well, particularly in cities. People perhaps just aren't as aware.

“Since [George Orwell's novel] ‘1984,’ there's been a tradition of fiction that debates the implications to our privacy and our freedom if we're being watched all the time. I guess I wanted to pose another question. What are the people who are watching you going to do with the footage? With the advent of artificial intelligence, there's a whole new level of fear about where a surveillance state could take you.

"With season two, we really kind of explode out of the precinct of CCTV and we go into media and ask the question of how, in the advent of deepfakes, how can we believe what we see?" Chanan said. "That question is relevant, since media and any kind of communication or video representation that happens on screen is vulnerable to attack."

The Capture Holliday Grainger

Chanan insists that everything that happens on "The Capture" is technologically possible, even if it's not likely to happen at the scale the show portrays. "It's heightened reality," he said. "The plot is far-fetched, but nothing is technically impossible. If somebody really did it all successfully, it would have to be the most ambitious, perfectly executed campaign. But the technology is real, even if it is just this side of science fiction."

Paranoid thrillers from the '70s are definitely an inspiration for "The Capture." Chanan said, "The whole tone, the story, everything wouldn't happen without 'The Conversation,' 'The Parallax View' and 'Three Days of the Condor.' I watched these films as a kid, and clearly, I love conspiracy thrillers. I love the structure of a conspiracy thriller narrative."

Season two digs into questions that unites citizens on opposite ends of the political spectrum. "There's the fake news conversation that we're all having out in the real world and then there's this whole other threat to the validity of what we're watching, which is convincing photoreal deepfakes," Chanan said. 

"I think it's a question that we haven't even begun to grapple with. What are we going to do? For now, I think deepfakes in the real world are often easily provable. For example, they did one of Zelenskyy. Somebody hacked into a news organization. Now Zelenskyy was somewhere else. So he could just pop up and go, '"Well, it wasn't me because I'm here.'

"But in our story, you can see how the nefarious forces go to some lengths to make sure Isaac can't pop up and go, 'Oh, no, I'm, I'm the Isaac over here.' Because he becomes complicit when you're going into Episode Two now, because he's part of the government. So he can't just go expose what's going on. You can see where things might go if that Zelenskyy thing was more perfectly executed. It could have been much more problematic."

The Capture Ron Perlman

One of the best things about "The Capture" is that it tells a complete story over the course of two seasons in a total of 12 episodes. If the character of DI Rachel Carey never graces our screens again, the payoff was definitely worth the investment. 

Still, the show has been so popular in the UK that someone, somewhere will be asking for a sequel. Chanan won't say no to a followup, but he's not currently planning a return."I just don't know exactly what's going to happen next, or where we're going to go or whether there's going to be another one," he said. "I'm still thinking, I need a good old long holiday. It's been a long six years, obviously. So, I don't know. I can't tell you, I'm afraid."

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