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PBS' "Guilt" examines what happens to estranged brothers after they finally bond over killing someon

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"Let's go. They're fine . . . they're just wounded."

Turns out they are not fine. Or even wounded. In fact, they are dead. That's the reality bickering brothers Max and Jake McCall (Mark Bonnar, Jamie Sives) must face after accidentally running over an elderly man in "Guilt," a four-part Scottish series airing as part of PBS' "Masterpiece Mystery."

Jake is immediately overcome with horror and remorse, wanting to call the authorities. As a 40-something owner of record store Leith Beats, he's all about vinyl and vibes, not violence of any sort. His older brother Max, however, is a high-flying lawyer and understands how this could negatively impact his career. Not on his watch.

Instead, he convinces Jake to help cover up the crime by placing Walter Woods – that's the name of their hapless victim – back in his own living room propped up in an armchair. Upon finding paperwork revealing that Walter had terminal cancer, Max feels vindicated. Not only will it seem like the "poor bastard just slipped away," but in the long run, they may have even saved him some pain (other than the pain of getting mowed down by an automobile, that is).

It's the perfect crime, even if it wasn't premeditated.

"Guilt" writer and creator Neil Forsyth spoke to Salon about getting inside the head of someone like Max.

"A certain person sees the world so entirely through the prism of their own ambition and motivation that it's impossible for any form of situation to be seismic enough to shatter that structure they have," he said.

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"Guilt" explores the brothers' crime – all the lies and evasions to avoid being discovered, such as Jake cozying up to Walter's American niece Angie (Ruth Bradley). Through the course of the series, however, we soon learn that others around them aren't morally pristine either.

The sticking point, however, is how much the characters actually feel guilt, if any at all. Max isn't the only ruthless one. "It's such a subjective decision, what people feel guilt over, and how much guilt they carry, how long they carry it for," said Forsyth.

While the writer was inspired by "Fargo" and series like "Breaking Bad" when it came to the blend of crime and humor, "Guilt" isn't quite as bloody or dark.

"Some of the reviews say, you know, it has 'pitch black humor.' Not really. It's on BBC Two at nine o'clock," said Forsyth, referring to the series' not-so-gritty UK timeslot.

Instead, Forsyth feels that the humor – rather absurdist and understated – is specific to Scotland, especially the east coast. While the series is set and shot in Edinburgh, Forsyth himself grew up in the culturally rich Dundee.

"I hope Americans can understand the accent. Stick on the subtitles," he said. "I hope that I've managed to make it specific enough that it's a fun, different world for them to spend some time in it."

Check out the rest of the interview with Forsyth, who also discusses sibling dynamics, how to get away with murder and the Scottish obsession with American culture.

The following interview........

© Salon

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