NOTE: The psychology aspect of this post was written based on notes and guidance from someone i know, i personally have no knowledge or professional link to psychology.
This post also contains spoilers! you have been warned.
Sam seems like a regular teenage boy, he’s polite, kind an helpful to his single mother who works as a nurse. When on the school bus, a boy named Oscar is being bullied by a couple of kids Sam steps in when no one else will (the bus driver included). Then at school a new girl (Chrissy gets into trouble for attempting to burn down the science lab, Sam puts his hand up and try to take the blame when in fact he had nothing to do with it. There is something strange about Sam, something off about him, his reluctance to form friendships or the way in which he hangs around the geriatric hospital ward where his mother works, reading to the elderly patients and generally coming across as a “nice boy” to those who seem to know him. First off i should say that it is a great performance by Jack Rowan, Born To Kill is a psychological thriller that asks whether psychopathy is inherited or does our environment make us this way? The 4 part drama is the first new writing partnership between Tracey Malone (Silent Witness) and Kate Ashfield (better known as the actress who played Liz in Shaun of the Dead) The series starts out (in episode 1) by introducing us to the main characters, including Sam and his mum, we see him practising a speech about the death of his father (which is completely false) we also see Sam sticking up for another teenager who is being bullied and the introduction of Chrissy, Sam seems in turmoil towards the end of the episode which leads to the death of one of the geriatrics on the hospital ward that Sam visits.
The second episode pretty much deals with the aftermath and events following the first episode while the audience sees more of Sam’s personality, such as the scene where he snaps at Oscar dragging him into the shower while yelling “I don’t even like you” before putting him on the floor and putting his foot over Oscars throat “I could snap your neck” he says making a point to Oscar.
It is in these moments that we see Sam’s Psychopathy, but not just these moments, it’s littered all the way through the four episodes, Sam’s manipulation of Chrissy, his mother and even nurse Cathy (who makes the fatal mistake of letting him into her home) highlight his true nature that hides under the “nice kids” mask that he portrays to the everyday world.
“There is a misconception that psychopaths are those serial killers who appear on the news such as Ted Bundy, the Yorkshire Ripper and so on but in reality there are more people like Sam who have psychopathy walking around and DON’T kill than those who do, however most people will only know about the ones they see on the news or read in a newspaper and thus will automatically link psychopathy with killers. In reality psychopathy affects around 1 in a 100 individuals.”
Born To Kill is a more realistic view on psychopathy event ho the series still has killing within it, if you take that aspect away age Sam into his early to late twenties you will have your average psychopath, someone who is charming, can easily manipulate and will do so in order to get what he wants as long as he is getting his own way. They are often prone to boredom easily even in adulthood, due to the higher need for stimulation in the brain than the average individual, there are no strings attached to them they will often have multiple sexual encounters in their lives and disregard monogamy (altho some are married and even have children they will often appear distant to their partner but to the outside world everything will look and appear normal).” Even tho Sam is attracted to Chrissy we later see (episode 4) that he doesn’t love her, the reason being is that psychopaths can’t and don’t love in the same way as the rest of us, their emotions are shallow, however they do still have them but they have less depth than the rest of us. Generally they don’t care about other peoples feelings and cannot form genuine relationships with anyone, even closest family, they will appear to have friends (like Sam with Oscar) in order to appear normal but they will often treat those said friends as objects they can manipulate (like Sam with Oscar and later Chrissy)
There is a high likely hood (1 in 100) that you have met a psychopath but you won’t have known it, a co-worker, a friend it could even be a family member, the point being that most people who have psychopathy don’t walk around killing everyone they meet. The problem that faces mental health professionals is that psychopathy cannot be cured within adults, however there is a chance that within children and adolescent’s such as Sam that the traits associated with psychopathy can be removed through therapy this is because their brains have not fully formed such as that of an adult.”
The mini series is a new kind of thought on psychopaths, instead it focuses on a minor rather than an adult, it is also much more low key and down to earth.
The series as a whole is brilliantly paced mixed with great acting, well placed lighting and an equally brilliant music score that adds to the tension and overall feel of the series. Born To Kill works very well and is one that i highly recommend.
All four episodes of Born to Kill are currently on 4oD and will be available later this year on DVD.