This review contains spoilers.
I’m not sure how many bent coppers that Hustle has endured, but it’s a fair number over the years. So did this one add anything new? No, if I’m honest, even if this slice of conman pie was as succulent as ever.
Each season, its writers throw a story in where the viewer is kept out of the loop from the outset, like you’ve came to a party late and missed the joke that everyone found hilarious. This is one of those stories, where what goes on beyond our view is crucial, and only revealed when you’re entirely confused about what’s actually happening.
Their nemesis here is DI Fisk, played with sneering-mode-set-to-max by Patrick Baladi. He’s perfectly cast, and manages to remind you of every person you’ve met in a position of power who’s abusing the privilege. The crew appear to be working a simple inheritance scam when Fisk manages to sneak in Kat, a previous romantic interest of Sean’s, to spy on them.
Skye Lourie, who plays Kat, delivers a decent performance, which isn’t easy considering she’s supposed to act duplicitous to the audience yet not appearing to be obvious to the crew. In the final analysis, they knew all along, so she could have been as unsubtle as she liked, really.
There appeared to be a plot point that was approached, before being ditched, which was about the father of Kat’s child. Was it meant to be Sean? I think in one version of the script it was, because some of the dialogue suggested it was heading that way, before the connection was unceremoniously dropped.
In the end, the story deflates when you find out that Fisk has been conned by a senior copper played by Sophie Ward, because there’s nothing especially clever about such a massive omission. Part of the fun of Hustle is guessing where the story is going, or at least having a stab at doing so. Perhaps others might have guessed that Fisk was the real mark, but in retrospect, there wasn’t much evidence of that up to the point of the reveal.
There might have been some mileage in the delayed conflict between DCI Angela Wainwright (Ward) and Mickey if she had a possibility to return for a rematch, but she doesn’t, so other than neatly closing the story loop, it didn’t serve much purpose.
Because of the surprise by omission aspect, I didn’t enjoy this as much as the last episode, where it was the crew who were kept in the dark and not us.
What I did love, however, was the opening sequence, where Adrian Lester poses as a DJ, which was extremely funny. Part of me was laughing at the dreadlocks he was wearing that, irrespective of his head movements, seemed immoveable, but also at Lester’s amazingly over-the-top ‘street’ accent. Loved it.
Hustle is at its best when it takes things too far, I’ve concluded, and as such I’ve high hopes for the next story, purely because it has John Barrowman in it. I mean, it’s not like he’ll over-act or anything, is it?
Read our review of Hustle episode two here.