The second episode of Love/Hate revolved around a criminal enterprise that was both exciting in delivery and realistic in detail. There was no bank robbery, or heist with high speed pursuit and guns and death. Instead, John Boy’s gang picked up some drugs and drove them to a safe location. That’s it. But such a simple description doesn’t do justice to the scene as Darren showed his competence and ability in shaking the police and conducting a new plan on the fly.
Episode two also revealed a little more about each of the characters. Nidge is a little unhinged, threatening his son’s birthday clown because ‘you can’t let these arseholes take advantage.’ Tommy seems the least likely so far to start randomly attacking people, while Darren is the best and most capable criminal, confident and in control, despite his mind all episode being drawn to his quest for vengeance, and to Rosy, the ex-girlfriend he can’t let go of.
After the successful drugs delivery, the gang celebrated with a party at John Boy’s. Aidan Gillen is outstanding in this role. John Boy does little to suggest he’s anything other than an easy going guy but Gillen plays him with a subtle menace underneath every line. When Darren finally made an appearance at the party, John Boy’s frustration with him was conveyed through mundane dialogue and facial expressions alone. ‘You drinking that?’ he said passive-aggressively after handing Darren a drink. ‘Because if you don’t want it, I’ll have it; don’t waste it.’
Gangsters, it seems, are easy to offend. I mentioned last week that this show has been compared to The Wire but I see more similarities to The Sopranos. In that show, ordinary people continually found themselves corrupted and ruined by being drawn into the criminals’ sphere and inevitably offending their fragile egos. In this episode, one character made the mistake of entering the gangsters’ world, and got randomly attacked for his troubles, after refusing to give someone a loan of an expensive car – a scene that had echoes of the famous ‘funny guy?’ scene in Goodfellas.
At the end of the episode, Darren, angry at his failure to find his brother’s killer, took his frustration out on someone putting rubbish in his sister’s bin. Again, similarities to The Sopranos, a show where the characters had a tendency to manifest their extreme anger in unhealthy ways, usually catching ordinary people in the cross-fire.
If I had one major issue with Love/Hate so far it’s the directing, which I find to be too heavy-handed and unsubtle. The episode opened with a pretty dodgy montage that bordered on ludicrous at times – zooming in on a shirtless Stumpy lifting weights while growling at the camera. At times, the directing is reminiscent of something from The Bill ten years ago, with too many post-production effects and fast electronic music.
This aside, it was a good episode, and better than last week’s. There are only two episodes left though, which is a little annoying. There’s a good chance that the series will end just as people are starting to settle into its rhythms and getting to like the characters. Hopefully Channel 5 have plans to air the second series soon, although given the channel’s track record they’ve probably spunked all the cash on a 12-part Peter Andre documentary. So maybe enjoy this while it lasts.
- A quick mention of what else happened this episode: Stumpy suspected Rosy was spending time with Darren, and she was, and is clearly still hung up on him; Nidge proposed to his girlfriend; John Boy’s brother is clearly a bit mental; and Jimmy, the guy Darren suspects of killing his brother, phoned Darren and told him he was not involved in the murder. Jimmy is coming back to Ireland, so expect fireworks maybe.
- What kind of idiot tries to defraud a known gangster’s sister?
- I’ve been pretty harsh on the directing but the drugs delivery scenes were done well, and were consistently tense throughout the 20 minutes or so it lasted for.
- ‘Taxi is on the way.’ ‘I don’t want to be late.’ The show cut straight into that dialogue at one point, with the audience being left to work out on their own that the taxi was taking a long time, and that Darren had just phoned to check where it was. Like I said last week, the show has an admirable willingness to avoid holding the audience’s hand.
- ‘Ireland is fucked for the next ten years, you know that. This is the only game you can make any money.’ This will be the type of thing that resulted in The Wire comparisons.