Gangs of London
Congratulations to Finn Wallace for having a midlife crisis so selfish and so devastating that I want to open all my windows and yell “Misandry!” into the cicada-filled sky. What an absolute tool, honestly. Practically every bad thing that has happened so far in this season of Gangs of London can be traced back to Finn’s decision that he was going to leave his wife and his children, walk away from the organized crime empire he’d built over decades, and go full Johnny Depp with a $36 million yacht, private island, and life with the pregnant Floriana. Yes, sure, Finn died. But he thoroughly screwed everyone over before (and potentially even after) getting shot in the face by Darren Edwards, didn’t he?
“Episode 7” reveals more about Finn’s betrayal, and uses those disclosures to further — and possibly forever — drive a wedge between Sean and Marian Wallace on one side and Ed, Alex, and Shannon Dumani on the other. Everything between the two families is out in the open now, I think, and I’m not sure how either comes back from this schism. Sean always thought of himself as Finn’s son, but I think he’s revealing himself far more as Marian’s son: quick to temper and quick to action, often for worse than for better. The Sean who shot at Ed, the man who seems to have cared about him more as a son than Finn ever did, is out of control. How does Ed forgive him for that? And Marian comes from a crime family of her own? Who is this woman, and why wasn’t she running this business?
Consider that it’s Marian, not Sean, who understands who Finn Wallace truly was. I cannot be the only person who laughed when Sean said to Alex that Finn’s only weakness was “He could never confide in us when things went bad.” Buddy! Remember those pictures of the entire Albanian family your father ordered the murders of? And the fact that the man Finn wanted the child version of you to kill was a one-night-stand of Marian’s? I think his pettiness and cruelty and corruption of his children were probably weaknesses, too!
Anyway. Recall that as soon as Finn died, Marian asked her private investigator Serwa to figure out what Finn was up to, and learned about Floriana, the yacht, and the island. Recall too that she had Serwa trailing someone else, now revealed to be the Dumanis, because Marian is nothing if not suspicious. And now we know that Marian’s sister Niamh (Frances Tomelty) and Colin (Ian Beattie), who I think is Niamh’s husband, are players too. When these Irishmen roll up in the Wallaces’ bougie neighborhood in their Jeeps, it’s as declarative of a moment as Mosi and the Nigerians striding into the investment house or into Luan’s daughter’s birthday party. There is power here to be claimed, and there are new players in the game. And as Sean increasingly pushes everyone away — the Dumanis, and now I think older brother Billy, too — I’m not sure his allies of Marian, her couple-dozen-strong army, or Lale are enough.
Let’s begin with Lale. Ah, what a relief to have Narges Rashidi back on my TV. That glare! I love it too much. The woman who lost her husband to Asif and who nearly lost her sister and nieces to Sean again faces tragedy when Asif, still resentful of her stealing his heroin shipment, massacres everyone working at her landscaping company warehouse/drug depot. A few scenes in this episode didn’t track for me, and I’ll admit this was one of them: When we watched Lale’s right-hand man Hekar (Aksel Ustun) walk through that building, there were men with machine guns everywhere! That place was seemingly very well-protected! And yet Asif’s mercenaries easily and quickly wipe out everyone in this place: the hazmat-suit-wearing people working with the drugs, the legitimate employees of the landscaping company, those aforementioned security people, and Hekar himself. When Elliot later tells Shannon that he helped get rid of 12 bodies from that place — sure looked like way more than 12 to me!
Lale had a point later on when she sneered at Sean that his security wasn’t shit, and I’ll admit that this is a recurring confusing point. Tove nearly gunned Sean down in the Wallace home! They still haven’t captured Leif! Why don’t the Wallaces have more security on everyone? I’m surprised that Marian would wait until midway through this episode to venture out to Ireland to retrieve reinforcements, and I’m also surprised that Sean so inconsistently decides when Elliot will join him and when he won’t. That feels like a script decision rather than a character decision, as does a fair amount of the obfuscation and evasion in this episode written by Peter Berry.
I can understand that Ed is terrified of losing Alex, and that opening scene established how much Finn screwed him over by dropping that “I’m leaving, LOL, bye” bombshell. And I can understand that Alex is terrified of whomever has stolen so much money from them — over 1.5 billion pounds — from right under Alex’s nose. But like — talk to each other! Consolidate your resources! Mount a united attack against Jevan! Before all that money went missing this episode, I wondered why it felt like the Dumanis were stalling on cluing in Sean when it seemed like the Wallace organization should have enough resources and manpower to at least make an attempt at standing up to the investors. Now that just seems like the narrative spinning its wheels until the families could break up. If the Dumanis genuinely want to be in power, then I suppose that’s a different story. Until this point, though, that didn’t seem to be the case. The Dumanis and Wallaces have been together for so long that I’m not sure they can survive alone, and I doubt the wisdom of this when so many enemies — Luan, Mosi, Jevan, Leif — are still on the loose. (The Nigerian henchman who grabbed the handful of candy before leaving Luan’s party is #relatablecontent.)
Consider that in this episode alone, the violence going on in this city is wild: that massacre at Lale’s and the attack by Mosi and his men upon Adige are both horrifying, news headline-generating events. And yet, in another story development that didn’t quite track for me, Detective Inspector John Harks (Garry Cooper) chooses to pull Elliot out of undercover duty because he’s in a relationship with Shannon Dumani. Buddy … is that one ethical question really the priority right now? Mosi and his men just leaned into all of colonialism’s “Nigerians are savages” stereotypes by using fresh machetes to chop off nice white British people’s hands! Who cares that Elliot is kissing Shannon in a pizza place; I don’t think that matters so much.
But “Episode 7” is an episode that leaves a number of questions in its wake, and I suppose Elliot must be addressed here, too. Is he right that there is a leak within the police department? Is it Tony, like he suspects, or someone higher up — someone who had the power to close Finn’s murder inquiry, as Vicky says? Looking outside the police, who is carrying out Finn’s plan to steal money from his own family? I can buy Alex’s explanation that Finn set up “a couple of timed bank transfers.” But that doesn’t explain who hacked into the system and stole Luan and Mosi’s money, does it? Could Finn have been so sure that Ed would have honored that deal? Nor does it explain who might be handling these transactions and holding the money now. “He took it from each and every one in this room,” Ed said of Finn’s ongoing disloyalty and theft. But how does one get revenge on a dead man?
As Long as You Comply
• Rest in peace, Hekar, you were hot.
• Floriana update: Still being held by Leif, still pregnant.
• Not trying to brag, but I feel pretty good about calling David Avery’s Tony as similar to James Badge Dale in The Departed. Thank you for your guidance, Marty Scorsese! Thank you also, Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, for Infernal Affairs!
• Poor Billy. Sean goes from, in “Episode 6,” standing up for Billy, telling Marian that they don’t need her anymore, and watching Marian shoot at Billy with no remorse, to in “Episode 7” dissolving into tears in Marian’s arms in a slightly Oedipal hug that leaves zero room for Billy in this family. Billy is definitely going to score heroin when he walks out of the house at the end of “Episode 7,” right? Can someone protect Billy at all costs?
• Nasir swears off daddy Asif’s money right when Lale decides she’s going to “take what he most cherishes.” Uh oh! I love how much fun Asif Raza Mir is having, by the way; his playfully offended “I’m not a dealer!” was a wonderful line delivery.
• Related: “the Kurdish witch” slaps as an alias, and Rashidi put a lot of melancholy into “All I have left is a fight for a place I can never go back to.”
• No shade toward Shannon Dumani’s parenting style, but I would think maybe don’t bring your son Danny to the Wallace home anymore? Since terrible things seem to happen there all the time? As they just did again?!
• A nice continuity detail in that scene where Elliot rearranges his makeshift wall diagram of the Wallace crime organization using photos he swiped from Tove’s home.
• Kudos to director Xavier Gens for some satisfying compositions this episode, especially the mirroring of Ed on the bridge where Finn broke the news of his upcoming departure and the close-up on Asif’s eye illuminated in blood-red light as he watched the attack on Lale’s compound.
• And also kudos to Lucian Msamati, who has done consistent work as Ed Dumani and really distills the man’s conflicting emotions this episode: his verklempt shock at Finn’s announcement, his barely contained rage around Jevan, his utterly unimpressed reaction to Luan’s threats, and his final exhausted tone when spilling to Marian and Sean everything that has been going on with the investors. Please also protect Ed!