If you’d told me a month ago that I’d be sitting on the edge of my seat rooting for a child kidnapping, witness intimidating, child exploiting murderer to see through a drugs snatch, I would never have believed you.
Such was the power of the writing, casting and acting in Top Boy.
I didn’t blog after watching last week’s episode, because I was a bit uninspired. Although I like moody and reflective, it was a bit too reflective and there wasn’t enough action to paper over the visible plot joins.
By contrast, this week the complicated plot strands came together, to form a veritable apex of atmospheric adventure. Dushane needed to retrieve his drugs from the Albanians. Lisa wanted to find a way of releasing Ra’Nell and Gem from the clutches of Vincent. Sully was still sore over losing Mike. The cops wanted , through Kayla, to get their hands on Dushane for the murder of Kamale. And Dushane wanted to make sure that he had covered his tracks, especially where twelve year old Michael’s revelation to the police was concerned.
By the time Dushane and Sully had descended upon the Albanian lair, they had already kidnapped Kayla’s son and forced her solicitor to carry the message back to her in custody regarding what would happen if Kayla co-operated with the police. Despite this vile act, I was still rooting for Dushane to get even with the Albanians, and for him to get through the operation safely. This is due I think wholly to Ashley Walters’ acting. He manages to convey ruthless efficiency with an inner soul. He exudes a powerful menace, prowling round his patch, mulling over his betrayal to the police by a witness on the night of Kamale’s death. and his knowledge that it must have been Michael who did this. But you can also see his reluctance when he realises that he may be forced to kill Michael in order to save himself.
Little vignettes of the emptiness of the children’s lives were scattered like discarded needles all the way through the series. Jason’s junkie mother, and the brief moments of patience and understanding that Sully offered him. Michael and the other children’s awe of Dushane and the appreciation of his attention and protection as the only care that they can hope for. I don’t want to feel like I’m watching a documentary made by some concerned outsiders, who’ve worked hard to be allowed just a glimpse inside. But by offering an understanding why this cycle of gang violence perpetuates itself again and again, the series shows its soul.
There was a huge theme of sacrifice running through this episode. Mike’s death, or rather, his offering up by Dushane in return for Sully’s life, ultimately led to Sully sacrificing the kinship he might have had with Dushane. He couldn’t forgive this, even if this act had saved his life.
But the most, heart stopping moment was when Dushane approached the flat early in the morning in which Michael had been taken by another of the gang members. I thought I had it nailed; Dushane was going to change his mind; he couldn’t bring himself to kill Michael; thus showing his first flaw and opening himself up to a third series which would chart his dramatic downfall.
Well, of course I didn’t have it nailed. I had no idea of how this episode and series were going to end. The best thing about this twist was Michael’s actions were made understandable by the emptiness of his life and therefore the need he had of his protector, Dushane. (Although I did have to ignore the voice inside my head saying – how did they all get into those positions in the first place?)
It’s not just about sacrifice and sadness. It was also VERY EXCITING!!! If you haven’t watched, it’s all still available on
4oD, so hop over and have a look, before it metaphorically does a runner to Ramsgate, as Gem and his father did to avoid all the flak flying around.