Finn Wallace (Colm Meany), the head of the consortium of gangs that runs London, has been murdered and the question on everyone’s lips is who killed him and why?
Finn’s son, Sean (Joe Cole) and his closest ally, Ed Dumani (Lucian Msamati) do their best to deal with the power vacuum that Finn’s death has created but tensions are brewing between the various ethnic factions all looking for a piece of the capital’s pie. Unsure of who to trust, Sean gets close to a young, gang enforcer called, Elliot (Sope Dirisu), who has his own reasons for trying to get into the Wallace’s confidences. As this twisty, turny tale unfolds it becomes clear that it’s impossible to know who to trust, how many secret alliances exist and who is truly running the show.
I became absorbed in this Sky Original really quickly. It’s gritty, intriguing, violent (which isn’t for everyone, I realise) and very well acted. Although a lot of the draw of the show is the multiple reveals of secrets and unexpected motivations and links, the psychological elements are even more exciting. The show explores themes of familial relationships, love, desire, power and addiction. Within the Wallace family both Sean’s heroin addict older brother, Billy (Brian Vernel) and his mother, Marion (Michelle Fairley) are really interesting characters as is Ed’s son, Alexander (Paapa Essiedu) who has managed to distance himself from the true nature of his “business”.
The show features some of the best scenes of hand-to-hand combat I have ever seen on the small screen and some of the fight scenes had me equally open mouthed in amazement and cringing in horror. I am not sure if Dirisu did his own stunts but whoever did, deserves an award!
All of this said, the more I think about this show the more I feel like it was a little bit of style over substance. There are so many characters and so many threads that there isn’t enough time to really get into the depths of each character. Elliot should be the most interesting character in the show but he’s not given enough time to breathe. I loved watching him kick the shit out of various goons but I wanted more of the deep conflict that his life choices cause and the PTSD he’s fighting. I also wanted more of the relationship between Sean and Billy.
I would definitely watch another season of this. I really love Joe Cole as and actor and I think the story has legs but it doesn’t quite match up to other shows in a similar space like Line of Duty or Peaky Blinders on a good day.