Warning: contains major spoilers for Guilt Series 1 & 2.
Arguably the best British thriller of recent years, and unarguably the British thriller with the best soundtrack of recent years, Guilt is back. The Scottish comedy-drama from Neil Forsyth (The Gold, Bob Servant) about brothers Max and Jake McCall returns for series three on Tuesday the 25th of April on BBC Scotland and iPlayer, with episodes airing weekly on BBC Two at 9 p.m. from Thursday the 27th of April. This final four-episode run caps off an excellent trilogy about good people doing bad things and bad people doing… more bad things.
Series three finds the brothers in Chicago, one year on from Max’s transatlantic escape from the Lynches. Things are rocky for Jake and Angie (the girlfriend Jake met when she was posing as the niece of Walter, the old man he and Max accidentally knocked down in a hit and run they tried to cover up in series one), and disbarred lawyer/former money launderer Max is still plotting to regain his former wealth.
As the McCalls are forced back to Edinburgh to confront some old enemies, here’s what you’ll need to remember from this complex and twist-filled tale.
Series One: Sheila, Angie, Walter, and the Hit and Run
Series one revolved around Max and Jake committing a hit and run on their way back from a wedding. Max pressured Jake into covering up the crime, and into posing as a friend of the deceased – an old man named Walter who turned out to have been suffering from cancer – at his wake to retrieve potentially incriminatory evidence. There, Jake met and fell for Walter’s American niece Angie.
Angie, however, wasn’t Walter’s niece at all. She was a stranger who’d been promised £20k by Walter’s neighbour Sheila to pose as his niece so that Sheila could swindle the deeds to Walter’s house after his death. A ‘black widow’ with multiple previous victims, Sheila had been poisoning Walter under the guise of caring for him, to steal his home and money. On the night Max and Jake ran Walter down, she’d given him a lethal dose.
When Max discovered Sheila’s crimes, he tried to blackmail her into testifying that Jake was the sole driver in the hit and run and he wasn’t involved. He told Jake and Angie – now a couple – to leave the country, knowing that his brother would never be able to come back to Scotland with the hit and run charge hanging over him. Angie foresaw the double-cross, and she and Jake worked with Sheila and disgruntled PI Kenny (whom Max had betrayed) to pin the blame entirely on Max, who was arrested in the final minutes of the series.
Series one ended with Max on his way to prison, his wife Claire having kicked him out of their plush house and securing an easy divorce by blackmailing him about his money laundering (which she’d discovered thanks to her affair with Roy Lynch employee Tina). Max had tried to take over Roy’s money laundering scheme but corrupt police detective Stevie had told Roy his plan, and instead, Max lost his business to Roy.
Series Two: Max, Erin, and Roy and Maggie Lynch
Before he lost his old life as a wealthy lawyer and was sent to prison for the hit and run, Max used to wash cash for Edinburgh gangster Roy Lynch. To secure an early release after two years, Max agreed to work as a police informant against Lynch for an officer who was obsessed with taking Roy down in revenge for historical wrongs he’d caused to her family.
Max’s investigation into Roy’s finances led him to discover the man’s estranged daughter Erin McKee (Endeavour’s Sara Vickers). Erin resented her father for having abandoned her and her mother Maggie decades ago. Max and Erin hit it off and realised they both shared the same goal of taking Roy Lynch down. They concocted a plan to betray him in which Max signed a profitable plot of Roy’s development-earmarked land in Leith over to Erin, stealing it from her father.
Roy rumbled the scheme and the fact that Max was working with the police, and threatened him and brother Jake, whom the Lynches had flown back from the US (where Jake and Angie had been living for the last two years, running a bar he’d bought with money the Lynches gave him to deliver up his brother to the police after Max attempted to pin all the blame for Walter’s death on Jake – see above).
The Lynches eventually sent Jake back to Chicago but before he went, planted his DNA on a knife and sent a henchman to Max and Kenny’s office to kill Max using the knife, to frame Jake for the murder. However, Max had already escaped. In a series two finale twist, he’d flown to Chicago and reunited with Jake at his bar The Edinburgh Castle. That was where we left the McCall brothers.
While Roy was presumed murdered by Teddy (see below), Maggie Lynch was arrested at the end of series two under suspicion of common purpose attempted murder for the stabbing of a property agent she’d had cross words with and then sent Roy after. Maggie went willingly but planned to hide behind a fake dementia diagnosis to avoid prison.
Erin’s Real Father, the Christmas Eve Murder and the Truth About Maggie Lynch
Erin hated her father Roy Lynch and his gangster lifestyle, and wanted to escape from under the shadow of being his daughter. As a teenager one Christmas Eve, she’d witnessed what she assumed was the aftermath of a murder Roy had committed, just before her parents’ car was forced off the road resulting in her mother losing the ability to walk.
Erin was reluctantly forced to let Roy back into her life when she accidentally shot dead a man who’d killed her coke-addict partner Adrian in their basement after Adrian stole a holdall filled with 100k in cash. Roy’s men disposed of the bodies and sent the 100k to Max to be washed clean before Erin could use it to pay off her husband’s secret debts.
It turned out that Roy wasn’t the one who committed the Christmas Eve murder all those years go – that was his wife Maggie. As children, Roy and his friend Sandy (an ex-villain turned vicar) had been sexually abused by the same teacher in a residential home. As adults, they arranged to confront their abuser, but before they could, Maggie murdered him in revenge for the pain he’d caused to her husband and others. Roy, Sandy and Maggie buried the body in the grounds of Sandy’s church (which occupied a key position in the planned development, and which several parties were trying to buy without success). Soon after the murder. Sandy ran Roy and Maggie’s car off the road resulting in Maggie becoming a wheelchair-user.
Except… the wheelchair was a ruse. Maggie Lynch had always been the brains behind the family firm, and used the chair – in her words – to hide behind. She and Roy agreed that they would separate so she would have plausible deniability over his criminal activity, and he would eventually go straight and use their ill-gotten cash for the development, where they would live together with their daughter once reunited.
As it turned out though, Roy wasn’t Erin’s biological father. That was vicar Sandy, who’d had an affair with Maggie decades earlier. When Roy found out, he dropped his and Maggie’s plans to live in the housing development. Max stumbled on Sandy’s secret, but instead of telling her to get revenge on Roy, he arranged to meet Erin at Sandy’s church then stood her up, telling her that inside she would find the escape she sought from being Roy Lynch’s daughter. The last time we saw Erin and Sandy, they were smiling at each other.
Kenny and Leith Legal, Yvonne and Stevie
In series one, Max exploited and lied to alcoholic private investigator Kenny Burns, whose drink problem had lost him his family. When Max got out of prison, it was a leap of faith for the newly sober Kenny to give him work at his new small firm Leith Legal, but he did it anyway, sharing his ambition of opening a chain of low-cost legal firms across Edinburgh’s working class areas.
Max, of course, lied to Kenny and didn’t tell him he was a police informant with a revenge scheme against Roy Lynch, and had no intention of being Kenny’s partner for longer than he needed. When Kenny found out, he also learned that his new girlfriend Yvonne – a fellow recovering alcoholic whom he’d met at an AA meeting – is a police officer who knew about Max’s double-dealing, and felt wholly betrayed.
When she was still drinking, Yvonne had failed to appear as a key witness in a hit and run case – something her work partner Stevie used against her to secure a promotion that should have been hers. Stevie was the corrupt officer working for Roy Lynch in series one, and Yvonne was forced to work underneath him. When Jackie (the officer with the vendetta against Roy Lynch who was running Max’s undercover operation) went rogue and started working with the corrupt Stevie, Yvonne quit the operation and tried to take them all down – Jackie, Stevie, Roy Lynch and Max.
It must have worked, because at the beginning of series three, Yvonne and Kenny are still together, she’s been promoted, and Stevie has been demoted.
Teddy and Maxie
During his two years in prison, Max shared a cell with violent offender Teddy (Fresh Meat‘s Greg McHugh), who committed brutal attacks when he felt a “red mist” descend. Teddy looked up to educated Max, whom he saw as a font of knowledge about the legal system and books.
The man who killed Erin’s coke-addict husband in her basement, and who was later accidentally shot by Erin, was an ex-soldier who turned out to be Teddy’s brother. When Erin’s husband stole £100k in cash (that was intended as a bribe from a property developer to vicar Sandy, whose church stood on land in a key position for the new Leith development), Teddy’s brother followed him home and killed him before being killed himself. Erin called her father for help and he and his men disposed of the bodies.
In the final moments of series two, Max used Teddy as a weapon against Roy Lynch. Max told Teddy it was Roy who killed his brother and gave him Roy’s home address. We saw Teddy turn up at Roy’s penthouse flat. Appearing to accept his fate, Roy asked Teddy if he was also from Leith, and when Teddy said he was, Roy commented “That’s something”. The strong suggestion was that Teddy then killed Roy off-screen. Series three picks up the action one year later…
Guilt Series 3 is airing now on BBC Scotland, with all 4 episodes available now on BBC iPlayer in the UK. Episodes air weekly at 9 p.m. on BBC Two from Thursday the 27th of April.