Hustle season 5 episode 4 review

Mr. P isn’t a suitable mark for this episode of Hustle, in the weakest episode of the series so far.

For the first time in this season I’m not going to lavish accolades on Hustle, because while the story offered some great potential initially, it slightly blew it in the final ten minutes for me. This was doubly annoying because the set-up they presented in the first ten minutes was one of the best I’ve seen the show do, but that only increased my disappointment with its ultimate conclusion.

Diamond Seeker opens with Mickey and Emma taking a trip to jewellery fence, Frank Rice, played by Nicholas Ball. Given that once Hazell star has been demoted recently to playing Lenny Henry’s manager in a recent hotel chain commercial, this looks like better work. His character in this might be an unsympathetic letch, but at least he doesn’t get to carry the luggage.

A mix-up ends up with him handing a priceless stolen necklace over to Mickey, and not a fake ruby. When the customer for the item turns up to collect it, both Frank and his son end up in hospital. At this point Mickey and the crew start planning their retribution, on obsessive collector Tony Baxter (Patrick Bergin) and his smartly dressed psychopathic ‘Tracer’ Pinky Bryne (Mark Bazeley).

Why they do this is something to do with the Grifters Code, which appears to be an idea they borrowed from the Pirates of the Caribbean. They try to get Robert Vaughn to sell it hard, but ‘con-man’ and ‘honour’ aren’t words I generally accept are naturally connected.

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They need to get the diamond necklace back to Tony Baxter, or at least make him think he has it. This involves them getting Emma to convince him that they haven’t got it, although that does make you wonder how he won’t keep looking for it.

With some Hustle stories the set-up for the con is half the fun; in this it just appears to involve creating a plausible story and convincing Emma to enter the ‘lion’s den’ of Baxter’s home to sell it. He’s a smart cookie, so I’d already accepted that she wouldn’t be able to convince him that they didn’t have the necklace even before she got there. I was also sensitive to the information that he owned a copy of the necklace already. What then happened was so predictable I found it hard to believe the Hustle writers had come up with such an obvious solution. She swaps the real thing for the copy, Baxter penetrates her lies, and Mickey turns up to provide the copy back (retrieved from Emma in a hug), and they make the second exchange.

The team then sell the real necklace to Baxter’s rival, sealing the deal. Except for this to work as intended assumes that Baxter would never take a close look at his ‘original’, which I just didn’t accept, even if they tell us he won’t “because he’s an old romantic”. I didn’t buy it and I’d worked out the precise method of the swap about five minutes before it actually happened, so no twist actually existed here. They also don’t get anything over on Pinky, and he’s the one that hurt people, so that was a missed opportunity.

Despite the neat initial premise, this story was sloppily conceived, and didn’t really make much use of Nick Ball or even Bill Bailey, who turned up again as snitch Cyclops. From the main cast viewpoint this was also a poor outing, with the exception of Robert Vaughn who got some decent screen time. Kelly Adams was given a reasonable slice to develop Emma, but I can’t say her character actually grew much here.

The most worrying lack of character development is Sean as played by Matt Di Angelo, who is relegated here to being the brother who worries about his sister again (if she is his sister…). With four of the six stories in this season told, the role of Sean has been a stunted exercise. I don’t find in beyond the bounds of possibility that he’ll be killed off soon, and that thought doesn’t actually concern me because I can’t say much affinity has been garnered by his presence. Maybe episode five will redeem him, but I’d be surprised if it does.

I’m hopeful that the last two stories in this season are better than this, because this was a low point of the current production.

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