Hustle series 6 episode 5 review

Mark explores the mobility of mojo in this week's Hustle, which turns out to be the funniest episode of the series...

Hustle: Conned Out Of Luck

6.5 Conned Out Of Luck

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really buy the premise of Conned Out Of Luck from the outset. That being that Mickey is so dumb as to fall for some mobile phone scam artist, and in doing so loses his mojo. That said, the entire exercise was even more tongue-in-cheek than the show normally pushes, so plenty of breaking the fourth plane from the actors was to be expected.

But the highlight of this minor tale of mojos lost and ultimately found was the wonderfully crass character played by Daniel Mays, called Mervyn Lloyd, who sold Mickey a near useless phone. He’s the very worst wide-boy it’s possible to imagine, and comes out with every clichéd business jargon buzz-phrase you’ve ever heard, and possibly a few new ones.

In retrospect, what worried me more after seeing this show was how many of them I already knew, and the number I’d experienced in anger. For that sad person who once said to me, “Let’s run that up the flagpole,'” may your personal hell be to be trapped in a confined space with the likes of Mervyn Lloyd for eternity.

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That’s not to say it’s not entertaining. On occasions, he’s hilarious and this is undoubtedly the funniest story this season as a result. The highlight for me is his daydream where he’s sold a business idea to the Dragon’s Den business gurus, and they actually got Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden and Duncan Bannatyne to play themselves for this brilliantly satirical sequence.

Less convincing, however, were two later scenes where Mervyn is convinced that Albert is meeting with Sirs Richard Branson and Alan Sugar. The budget didn’t quite spring to either of those luminaries, so we get lookie-likies instead, neither of which looked remotely like the person they were supposedly to be. In fact, if I’d been Branson, in particular, I think I’d have been tempted to sue.

For me, personally, there was an added dimension to all this, as about 25 years ago I met one of these two in a business context. I won’t say which one it was, but at the time he was frighteningly similar to the fictional Mervyn Lloyd of this story. Your guess.

That weirdness aside, this was actually a neatly constructed story where the emphasis wasn’t the con, but how confidence is the key to the hustle and without it you’re doomed to fail. It also pushed the Taoist philosophy view that the world is in a form of balance which is easy to disturb and destabilise. As such, as soon as Mickey can’t do anything right his mojo transfers to hapless barman Eddie, for whom everything then goes right.

Much time is given over to Mickey’s loss of mojo, and how it makes him intrinsically unlucky. But in the end, this is rather undermined by him changing Eddie’s luck to bad again intentionally, rather than just waiting for the natural balance to be restored. It’s actually Mickey’s plan that succeeds in extracting £160,000 from Mervyn Lloyd, so the impact of his loss of mojo didn’t really stand much scrutiny.

Along with the pitch perfect performance of Daniel Mays here, it delivered another strong performance by Matt Di Angelo as Sean. He and Kelly Adams are now inhabiting their characters in the same natural way as the other Hustle personalities, and the ensemble seems more coercive for it.

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With Mickey given less to do this week it also gave the excellent Robert Glenister a chance to shine, and he rarely passes them up.

And so, only one episode remains in season six, a brief encounter by American show standards. So far, I don’t think it’s been up to the standard of previous years, but it’s had its moments.

Next week sees the welcome if predictable return of Lucy Britford, the ambitious fraud cop from the season opener looking to add Mickey and the gang’s scalps to her resume. Somehow, and this might just be a wild guess, but I can’t see her altering the natural balance in this production, and succeeding.

Read our review of the episode 4 here.