6.6 The Hush Heist
I don’t think I’d argue that season six of Hustle was one of the best, yet, the season finale, The Hush Heist, was the show at the very top of its game. By that I mean that Hustle is like a finely tuned engine, and in this story it runs very smoothly without any distracting rattles or curious misfires.
It all starts where it normally ends, with the critical conclusion of a con, except the ones who’ve been led astray this time are Mickey and the gang. So, it becomes apparent that their mark is a police officer, and they’ve got Lucy Britford to thank.
I have only one complaint about this story, and that must be that Indira Varma (Lucy) appears only once, and in a pre-recorded video message! She was wonderful in the season opener, and instead we’re given Anna Madeley, playing MI6 operative Jennifer Hughes. She’s fine, and certainly conniving, although, as Spooks likes to regularly remind, us MI6 aren’t allowed to play on home turf, as that’s MI5 territory.
She tells them that they’ll go to prison if they don’t rob a bank, which seems a curious request to make of people who aren’t bank robbers. Given that these are essentially conmen, they all seem remarkably well versed in the art of elaborate security vault heists and much of the fun here is watching them go about casing the joint and working out a plan to take an unknown item from a safety deposit box in one vault and ten million in cash from another.
Being conmen, they also know that Jennifer’s promise that the charges will be dropped is a hollow one, and that they need to have a backup plan handy.
The execution of the heist was actually much better than I was anticipating, but nothing we’ve not seen in Mission Impossible or a hundred other heist movies. Sean gets false credentials from paranoid forger ‘Anxious’ (Kevin Eldon) that allows him to get an odd device Ash makes into the deposit box above the one they need to rob. This turns out to be powerful electromagnet that then allows them to fire a line across the room on which Emma can dangle to avoid the pressure pads and pick the box locks.
I’d had a wilder idea before I saw this that they’re put a burrowing machine in one box, that would then cut its way to the next and remove the contents, thus robbery without having to go in there. But I was too smart on this occasion it turned out.
Unusually for the show, we’re actually given much of the twist before it’s presented to the marks, in this case Jennifer and her grumpy sidekick, Nigel. Unable to resist Mickey’s charms, Jennifer is drawn to discuss what they’ve been asked to do by the security services and undermine herself in other unscreened ways. She does this in front of an entirely open window of a high building, so I was expecting she’d been filmed and recorded from the top of another, but it turns out Mickey had brought his own video camera along in the flowers.
He then gets Ash to burn off this video onto tiny CDs, scuppering Jennifer’s (and by association, Lucy’s) attempt to have them incarcerated for a very long time. This fits with the underlying theme of the show, that people ultimately con themselves, with a little help from Mickey and co.
The coup de grace is delivered succinctly, where they also reveal that they didn’t fall into the obvious trap of tryimg to steal the ten million in cash, and then it’s off to Eddie’s bar for a final celebration with their ill-gotten gains.
This final scene, where they make an impromptu video message for Lucy ‘bitchface’ is pure Hustle, and for me embodied everything I love about this show. The team behind it obviously get great enjoyment making it, and it comes over in the performances of those in front of the camera.
After it ended I pondered that this show reminds me of a favourite uncle who would turn up only very occasionally when I was a child. He was always huge amounts of fun, outrageously generous, yet never overstayed his welcome.
Will it come back for Season 7? I can see no obvious reason why not, as it’s head and shoulders above anything else remotely like this that the BBC has. If not, I’d certainly like to see some specials, as I think there’s an audience for the characters and schemes I’ve come to adore.
But then maybe we’re conning ourselves that the BBC thinks like that?
Read our review of the episode 5 here.