The Wrong Mans episode 3 review

Sarah finds plenty to admire in the third instalment of The Wrong Mans, feat. Mat Baynton and James Corden...

This review contains spoilers

1.3 Dead Mans

The thing I’m really enjoying about The Wrong Mans is that it doesn’t waste time. Every episode introduces a new twist, clears up an old problem, and throws in a new complication for good measure. This week, for a moment, it looked like Sam and Phil might actually manage to scrape through this whole mess and go back to being normal, boring council employees – but since there are three more episodes to go, things soon turned sour again.

The hostage situation was, thankfully, resolved without any further bodily functions being involved: Sam dropped his work ID during the negotiations/explosions last week, letting Lau track him to the office and demand his nephew back. Since Sam and Phil didn’t actually mean to kidnap him in the first place, Sam agreed to exchange him for Mrs Stevens.

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That should’ve solved everything, at least where our ‘mans’ are concerned, but unfortunately for Sam, while he was brokering that deal Phil was busy trying to be a hero by breaking Scarlett out of the van. (It’s a very unusual van, that Double Dragon one, isn’t it? You’d think they’d pick something less conspicuous.) Cue a dramatic rooftop chase scene, followed by a couple of nicely awkward moments when Phil has to introduce Scarlett and Sam to his mum.

In my review last week I said it was good to see Phil interacting with his mother, being slightly more likeable than when he’s showing off around Sam – this week, bringing all of those characters together revealed just how sad his life really is. Okay, yeah, there were a couple of cheap shots in there, but I think the show’s doing a fairly good job of making Phil into someone who really would be up for this kind of adventure, even if it is incredibly dangerous. It’s not like he’s got anything else going on, after all.

This episode also manages to come up with a good reason why Sam and Phil can’t just give up and call the police, too. After dropping Scarlett home, they stick around long enough to witness the Stevenses getting into a fight, and despite their efforts to help, Mr Stevens ends up dead. And then Mrs Stevens helpfully calls 999 and tells the police that Sam did it. It’s a preposterous development, but it’s no more preposterous than everything else that’s happened thus far, so when a secret agent rocks up and drives Sam and Phil to safety, well, why not?

Agent Jack Walker (played by Dougray Scott) is the kind of guy you’d expect to be involved in an elaborate kidnapping/blackmailing/murder plot: he’s cool, he’s tough, and he doesn’t mince his words. He wears a black leather jacket and clenches his jaw. And set against the mundane and silly world of The Wrong Mans, he’s utterly ridiculous. People just don’t act like that in real life, do they? This episode really did a good job of mixing action tropes with absurdity, and the appearance – and subsequent horrible death – of Agent Jack Walker was a great example of that. (Though the sedate car chase through a residential area with traffic calming islands in the street was probably my favourite joke of the whole series so far.)

The episode ends with a brief cameo by Horrible Histories star Jim Howick (yay!) and another cliffhanger, as Sam and Phil discover a nearly naked man tied up in the boot of Walker’s blood-smeared car… and a bagful of money. Now they’ve got approximately £799,950 of stolen money, they’ve left a trail of corpses everywhere they’ve been, and Sam’s friends are eating his special lasagne without him. Where can they go now? I don’t know, I’ve got my switching-over-when-Next-Time-appears technique down to an art, so I’ll just have to wait a week to find out.

Honestly, if The Wrong Mans went on for longer than half an hour a week, it’d probably be terrible. The reason it’s fun is that it’s so fast-paced you don’t get time to think about what’s happening, you just have to go with it. It’s kind of fluffy and it’s inarguably silly – but for a gentle half-hour comedy, it does exactly what it needs to do.  

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Read Sarah’s review of the previous episode, Bad Mans, here.

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