Mongrels series 2 episode 4 review

Episode four of Mongrels season two represents a great return to form. Here’s James’ review of a typically sweary instalment…

Something that anybody who knows me will tell you is that I hate admitting I’m wrong. But this week, I must do exactly that. Those of you who read my previous Mongrels reviews may recall that, last week, my predictions for this episode were more doom-laden than the average opinion about David Yates’s planned Doctor Who film. But I was completely and utterly wrong. This episode is certainly the best of series two so far and, without doubt, lives up series one. Let’s take a look. 

Other than a brief establishing scene before the credits, the story pretty much starts in the middle of the action at Vince’s wedding reception. This is a refreshing change as usually we spend two or three minutes at the start of each episode setting up the main plot. Nelson is Vince’s best man and, on pain of death, must portray Vince in a positive light in his speech – in short, not telling stories that involve him “Doing anything vulgar, or killing anything, or using coarse language of any kind”.

This renders the majority of his speech unsuitable, leaving him with no choice but to ask the other characters for stories about Vince.  From that point on, the episode is pretty much just a series of short vignettes. But, surprisingly, it works incredibly well. This is mainly because it’s a collection of shorter stories.

Therefore the focus is tighter and they don’t feel padded out or overdone. It’s also a brand new approach, which makes the episode feel fresher, for lack of a better word.  Things don’t go well for Nelson as Marion’s input is bringing up the sore subject of Vince’s weekend access visits with son, and recounting the plot to Twilight, Tron Legacy, and Freaky Friday with himself and Vince as the main characters. This is a bit of a low moment for the episode, as it feels like the joke doesn’t need to be done three times over.  

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Nelson tells the story of when he and Vince were stranded on a traffic island. After managing to talk Vince out of cooking him alive, Nelson settles into a comfortable routine with him. Nelson cuts the anecdote short, declaring it not suitable, after remembering an unspecified incident that involved sexual deprivation and the assurance that “What happens on the island stays on the island”.  

Destiny contributes an anecdote about how, before Gary’s wife died, she was left on her own in the pub for extended periods of time, much to her delight. On the day of his wife’s funeral, Gary places one of Destiny’s tennis balls in the coffin as a keepsake. Destiny’s attempts to rob the grave and, as a last resort, she prays to Helen to return the ball. At this point, the ball sails through the kitchen window and lands in her paws. It transpires that Vince had been out desecrating the graves of people born outside the EU, and had decided to rob Helen’s grave.

Disappointed with what he finds, he dumps the body in Milwall Docks and throws the tennis ball away – conveniently, through the kitchen window. A happy side effect (for Destiny) was that what happened left Gary so distraught that he ended up in counseling for five days a week, giving Destiny back the freedom she previously had.

This sequence has the laziest joke of the episode, if not of the entire programme up to this point. Kali recalls that she saw Destiny trying to dig up the grave at a point in her life where she thought she was Will Smith. All this consists of is Katy Brand delivering her lines in an appalling attempt at a ‘ghetto’ accent and repeating the title of the majority of the films Will Smith has been in.

Quite frankly, it’s like something out of a Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer film and is, without doubt, the worst Mongrels moment yet.  Back at the reception, Nelson finally remembers a story that might save his life. Before Marion joined the Mongrels gang, Gary owned a depressed and solitary cockerel named Nathan that he rescued from a battery farm. Nathan’s girlfriend was killed in front of him and, from that point on, he vowed never to crow again.

Nelson attempts to break Nathan out of his depression but fails. But even though Nathan’s girlfriend died, Nathan kept her last egg. When it hatches, he is overjoyed and proudly begins to crow again. Nelson decides that this story is perfect until Marion reminds him that Vince isn’t in it. Nelson remembers that Vince’s involvement was killing Nathan because the time the egg hatched and he started crowing was four o’clock in the morning. 

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Nelson is resigned to his fate and the Morgan Freeman Lamb (last seen in series one) suggests that Nelson stands up to Vince while he still can. Nelson uses his speech to denounce Vince in front of everyone and tells him that he no longer wants to be his friend. To everyone’s considerable surprise, Vince thanks Nelson and confesses that he is, in his own words, “a c***”. The cast then launch into a rousing musical number titled Vince Is A Massive C***. After the song, Vince tells his bride that he’ll get out of her life. She tells him that she loves him for who he is, and says, “Kiss me you c***”. Of course, we all know by now that if there’s one thing you should never do, it’s call Vince a c***.

As per usual, Vince’s reaction is to murder whoever it was who called him a c***. Vince is now widowed and, once again, things behind the pub are back to normal.

A first for Mongrels is that this episode largely takes place in real-time, with the characters narrating much of their Vince stories, making it so that we hear them at pretty much the same speed as the other characters. 

Given the structure of this episode, subplots pretty much take a back seat. A side story is set up at the start of the episode about Destiny not wanting to be at the wedding because she’s single, but this is only returned to briefly, later in the episode, when she brings a crystal meth addict to the reception, claiming he’s a pilot from Knightsbridge. It’s a little bit clichéd, but how low Destiny sinks in order to not appear single lends it some originality. Kali’s subplot is touched upon throughout the episode, but it’s usually through a single line among the main story’s dialogue. She discovers that her cousin Warren is the main course at the reception, and gradually decides that she has no qualms about eating him. 

The real highlight of this episode is the song. It really captures the spirit of the programme, with an upbeat melody (Which is curiously reminiscent of the F*** The Chickens song from the very first episode) with lyrics about topics such knife crime. The song and the episode itself is an absolute delight to watch. Let’s just hope the writers can keep up this standard for next week.

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