The penultimate episode of a TV series is supposed to be when things kick into gear. This second last episode delivered eventually, but too much of the hour was devoted to irrelevant relationships. I don’t care about Tommy and Mary’s love tryst and I’m not interested in Trish’s wedding preparations. The Sopranos used similar mundane scenes to inform the show’s themes and character development; too much of Love/Hate’s equivalent scenes were pointless and uninteresting.
The second half of the episode was a lot better though. Following TV fiction’s long tradition of getting incompetent henchmen to do important jobs, John Boy asked his brother Hughie to kill Jimmy, hoping to keep Darren unaware of his involvement. Darren had earlier picked up Jimmy – who was walking home alone for some reason – but decided he was innocent and let him go.
Hughie, coked-up and inept, shot Jimmy in front of his family with the help of an equally idiotic accomplice. In some nice scenes, the police rounded up the usual suspects, including John Boy who had just returned from a trip to Amsterdam, before quickly releasing them. The press though had got hold of some information linking John Boy to the murder. I really hope they explain where this info came from next episode, because it was very specific and I can’t work out who passed it on, other than John Boy himself and that doesn’t seem likely.
Meanwhile, Darren had told Rosie that he wanted to get back together and was willing to look after her child. Stumpy, jealous at Rosie’s attachment to her old boyfriend, suddenly and violently beat her. This came out of nowhere, and maybe that was the point, to illustrate how suddenly violent criminals can be, but the series should really have indicated earlier that Stumpy was capable of this. The violence completely broke with his characterisation up to this point, which portrayed him as reasonable and completely loving to his girlfriend.
It’s also a cheap way out of a corner for the show’s writer. The love triangle set-up between Stumpy, Rosie and Darren was complex, with no straightforward solution. Having Stumpy suddenly put Rosie in the hospital resolves the issue instantly.
Back with Hughie, things were getting even worse, as he killed his accomplice in Jimmy’s murder. John Boy showed up to fix things, at which point Hughie confessed: ‘I sort of shot Robbie.’ Hughie had killed Darren’s brother over a small debt. I never spotted this reveal coming, and got suckered in by the show’s misdirection, which made it look like John Boy was the killer.
Darren did work it out though, and phoned John Boy to let him know. And that sets up an interesting final episode, as the two most competent criminals in the show reluctantly go head to head. Given the easy out the show took with Stumpy and Rosie, I’m a little worried a deus ex machina might be used to resolve the conflict between Darren and John Boy, but the series has been good enough so far to suggest the final episode should be worth watching.
- Some nice scenes where Stumpy looked for evidence of Rosie’s supposed friend – the one she used as an alias for Darren – which avoided spelling-out exactly what was happening.
- The actress playing Rosie has massive eyes.
- I liked the directing better this episode, especially the quiet, understated final scene