Top Boy review – Episode Three (Series 2) – Channel 4

Top Boy Episode three opened with a nice little scene of Jason picking up breakfast for Sully, Mike and their captive, along with an avocado he thinks is a pear, a gift for Sully and an attempt to endear himself to the only adult in his life that might actually look out for him.

Sully was in some trouble though. Rafe, the brother of his prisoner, came calling and started a shootout. Sully just escaped, and reached out to his old partner Dushane, asking for help in resolving the situation. Dushane agreed to broker a deal, securing Sully’s safety in exchange for him helping in the upcoming attack on the Albanian drug thieves.

Why does Dushane need Sully’s help though? He doesn’t. Sully has no special skills and Dushane has plenty of muscle. It’s the first major misstep the show has made, and the whole storyline felt like a contrived way of getting Sully and Dushane back together. If I was being generous, I’d say that Dushane was simply looking for an excuse to reunite with Sully, and that explains the illogical deal, but I think it is probably just bad writing.

There was some similarly awkward writing in a scene with Gem. Vincent sent him to a Soho lap dancing club with a drugs delivery. As the deal was made, the recipient pulled out a clever and cut someone’s hand off. Really though; how incompetent and suicidal would someone need to be to show up at a drug deal and start amputating hands? He’d be dead before he got out of the room. The scene threw realism and logic out the window in order to push Gem’s character development along – making him witness something so horrible – and to advance the plot, as Ra’Nell later confronted Vincent and got himself viciously beaten as a result.

Top Boy Channel 4Dushane meanwhile was dealing with more top level concerns. His lawyer introduced him to the property developers who want to knock down Summerhouse and replace it with some shiny new buildings. Dushane was asked to put up the initial capital. In return he could, in the words of Rhianna, ‘sit back and watch the money roll in.’ While it would mean betraying his roots, the death of his drugs partner Joe, and Joe’s stated remorse at what his life of crime had resulted in, has Dushane thinking it might be for the best to move away from the streets.

It’s hard not to compare Top Boy to The Wire, as many of its themes and storylines are the same. Dushane’s choice between street crime and white collar crime is something already handled in The Wire’s third season. In that show, gangster Stringer Bell moved into property development while his partner Avon Barksdale mocked his attempts to go legit. In one powerful scene, Avon told Stringer ‘I ain’t no suit-wearing business man like you. I’m just a gangster I suppose. And I want my corners.’

It’s very similar to the conflict being set up for Dushane. Obviously, there are a lot of parallels between the inner city drugs trade in London and that in Baltimore, so of course there is going to be crossover between Top Boy and The Wire, but this property development stuff with Dushane is a little too close to The Wire, a show that was almost certainly a huge influence on Top Boy’s writer.

Dushane had to put his property concerns aside though, as Rhianna informed him of a worrying police development. The woman who witnessed his kidnapping of Kamale was arrested by the police. Dushane now has the police to worry about along with the Albanians who stole his drugs. At the episode’s end, Sully’s friend Mike was killed by Rafe, something Dushane had promised Sully he wouldn’t allow to happen. Problems are mounting for Dushane as we head into next week’s finale.

Random notes:

  • Dris this episode took his daughter to visit her mother in prison. One of the major themes in both this and the last series is how societal problems are passed onto the next generation.
  • Gem ended his horrifying day at his father’s fish and chips shop, asking to help him with the business, and deal in a different and less dangerous type of ‘food’ from the one Dushane works with.
  • Ra’Nell seems a little bit pointless this series. I guess the show is trying to make a point about how difficult it is to get out of deprived areas, but the storyline has been hard to engage with.

Top Boy Reviews: Episode One, Episode Two, Episode Four

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5 thoughts on “Top Boy review – Episode Three (Series 2) – Channel 4

  1. Finally watched it… I couldn’t really hear it but I took it as Dushane avoiding the question when Sully asked him to make sure Mike stayed safe. When Dushane was getting Rafe to give his word that he wouldn’t touch Sully, the two of them tacitly agreed that Mike would be the one to pay. After the kill, when Rafe and Sully eyed each other, it seemed that this was communicated to Sully by Rafe – this is the price you pay. Maybe I’m reading too much into it.

    Thought the developer thing was a bit rushed and forced and I see where you are coming from with the too many storylines thing with this – it sort of existed just to fit in with the plot rather than existing in its own right. I prefer the more random, slower moving stories, like the kidnap (lots of waiting around) and particularly liked the scene where Jason brought his mum down.

      • Cool, glad you found it. For future reference, you can often get song titles by turning on subtitles either on the TV or on 4oD/iPlayer/whatever.

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