‘Time’ Season 1 Ending, Explained – Did Mark get Forgiveness?


Created by BBC, Time is a three-part drama series that follows the story of Craigmore prison (fictional). For anyone reading the article, I hope they might have seen the series and are searching for the answers of the philosophical questions left behind. The end majorly deals with the closure of Mark Cobden and Eric McNally. To understand their conclusion better, we will have to visit the conflicts they were dealing with in the first place.

Who was Mark Cobden?

Played by Sean Bean, Mark Cobden was a teacher and an alcoholic before being imprisoned for 4 years to kill a man on the road, under a drunken state. Once inside a hell-like reality, Mark was compelled to make peace with his guilt and survive in the volatile prison world. During his journey, his character was lured into numerous unlawful businesses. However, his conscious struggle remained the same, trying to become a better person for his son and his parents, who trust him with their life.

Who was Eric McNally?

Eric was an officer in charge of the prison facility where Mark was imprisoned. In the beginning, he was a calm and righteous man. However, an inmate soon found his weakness and started blackmailing. Eric’s son was serving his days in another prison, but the blackmailers found a way to hurt him. Through his son, the prisoners compelled Eric to smuggle drugs into his prison facility, or else he might have to lose his son. A helpless father complied with the demands and stepped on the other side of the law.

Was Mark released before time?

Initially, Mark was sentenced to 4 years because he confessed, pleaded guilty, and offered no plea in mitigation whatsoever. But due to his good behavior in prison and his interaction with the college children, he was released only after 2 years. Mark had all the chances to become corrupt like his prison mates, but his hunt for atonement kept his consciousness alive.
What was Mark’s struggle?

Aside from the volatility Mark faced from other cellmates, his remorse was weighing him down each day. He wrote a letter to the man’s wife (whom he killed in a road accident), but she refused to accept it. To ask for forgiveness was the prominent struggle for Mark.

Later, when he was sent for the Crime and Punishment conference, he spoke during the event. He said that he thought his imprisonment was an atonement for his deeds. It helped him go through a year, but the bubble soon bursted. He realized that one can never atone for the killing of another human being. The least and the most one can do, is to try.

‘Time’ Season 1 Ending Explained

A prison mate, Jackson Jones, helped Mark to stand up against his bully, Johnno. But in exchange, he demanded a favor from Mark, which was sought later in the series.

Jackson wanted to smuggle a knife inside the prison for unknown reasons. Officer Eric refused to smuggle weapons and limited his favor to drugs. When Jackson learned about the Crime and Punishment conference and Mark attending it without any copper on his side, he saw it as a chance to achieve the impossible. This was Mark’s moment to make a conscious choice. Mark didn’t bring anything from the outside.

After his release from jail, Mark was still seeking forgiveness from the man’s wife. A year later, Mark met her in a restaurant and handed her the letter he wrote during his stay in prison. The woman told her that she tried to forgive him, she wanted to, but she couldn’t. She said that she would keep on trying like Mark would keep on seeking atonement each and every day of his life. Thus, both the people try to pacify each other’s loss.

Officer Eric McNally was found guilty of smuggling drugs into the prison. However, he didn’t snitch on the people who gave him the supply. He wanted to protect his son in the best way he could, and thus, kept his mouth shut. For his impeccable career of 22 years, the judge sentenced him to 4 years of prison in a different facility. Symbolically, one man leaves the bars, only to be filled by another. But whatever the case maybe, they both found closure to their actions.

Time is a three-part Drama Television Series directed by Lewis Arnold and written by Jimmy McGovern for BBC.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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