The Syndicate Ep Four – BBC One: We learn more about Luke’s background in another lacklustre instalment

by Matt D

the syndicate

Sometimes it’s hard to keep making excuses for a show and admit that it’s just not that great. Having very much enjoyed the first series of The Syndicate, I have found this second run to be very hit and miss. Despite a great cast, especially Alison Steadman who carried last week’s episode, the series has had some fairly weak stories since it started. This week is no exception as Kay Mellor’s drama focuses on the relationship between Becky and Luke. It explores Luke’s background and what really happened on the night he met Becky. Though there wasn’t much wrong with this episode I just got the feeling that we’ve seen it all before.

This episode starts where the last one left off, as we see a shocked Rose re-enter her house after being attacked by a reporter. While Alan seems intent on carrying on the party, it appears as if Rose is in no mood so they decide to move on to a club. While this decision is being made, Luke is asked to return to Mandy’s house in order to pick up a new pair of shoes for Becky. After letting himself in, Luke almost rumbles Mandy’s secret but she is able to lie about the noises he hears in the basement. When he finally gets to the club, Luke spots a couple of the Bradford Bull players and Becky sees this as a way to jump the queue. In the club Becky spies her old mate Tamsin and informs of her lottery win. When Becky catches the eye of one of an attractive Bull player he ushers her and her friends up to the club’s VIP area. It is here that the rugby players are keen to hear whether Becky and Luke met before or after she won the lottery. So to tell us all what really happens, the story then flashes back to the night of the win.

Once again we see Becky and Luke meeting for the first time and her writing her number down on the back of the lottery ticket. But this time we see him heading back home and putting her number into his phone before throwing the ticket away. We also learn that Luke’s brother Jonathan is slightly brain damaged following an accident involving Luke. It transpires that Luke feels guilty that he was riding the moped that Jonathan fell off when the pair were on holiday. Since the accident, Luke hasn’t been able to forgive himself and wants to help Jonathan as much as possible. Luke eventually realises that he has the winning lottery ticket in his possession and initially plans to use it himself so he can spend the money on Jonathan. This explains why he hesitated when giving Becky back her lottery ticket as he had considered keeping it for himself. But ultimately he realised that he cared about Becky’s feelings so handed the lottery ticket back over to the syndicate members.

Back in the present day, Becky agrees to buy a table at a Bradford Bulls event along with some of the other syndicate members. While shopping for the event it is clear that Tamsin is attempting to take advantage of Becky’s new wealth. She tricks her into buying her a new dress and also attempts to invite herself to the Bulls event. Becky wises up to Tamsin’s scheme however this distrust makes her question her relationship with Luke. When Luke starts to talk about taking his brother her on holiday she believes he’s implying that she pays for the trip and the two start to row. Eventually he reveals all about the lottery ticket and how he almost kept him for himself. This row leads to the pair separating but not before Becky learns the truth about Jonathan. Becky later agrees to become a sponsor for the Bulls, who are apparently close to going under, which sees her get close to star player Matt. While out with Matt, Becky learns that Luke did in fact play for the Bulls but quit after Jonathan’s accident. With this new knowledge Becky heads round to Luke’s and admits that she’s been a bit off. Though the pair reconcile, Becky’s woes don’t end there as she discovers the truth about her father’s disappearance.

With Becky and Luke taking dominance, none of the other characters really get that much of a look in. We do of course see Rose’s story splashed over the tabloids and Alan continue to drink himself silly but neither story really features heavily in this episode. In fact the only continuing strands are Mandy’s imprisonment of Steve and Helen’s attempt to get revenge on the syndicate members for shutting her out. I feel the lack of cohesion between the episodes is the reason that this series of The Syndicate feels fairly flat. Though the episodes in the last series did focus on one particular character in turn, it still took the time to continue to tell the other characters’ tales. However I’ve found this second series to employ more of a stop/start approach to a lot of the stories as Mellor introduces new plot strands. This is especially true of the character of Tom who seems to have been completely forgotten about since his episode two weeks ago.

In terms of this particular instalment I found it to be fairly clichéd and quite dull in places. In fact it was fairly predictable that it would take around an hour for Becky to learn that money doesn’t buy you happiness. I also didn’t appreciate having to endure endless montages of Becky and Tamsin trying on dresses in department stores in order for her to learn this lesson. This episode also saw Kay Mellor flesh out Luke’s storyline as we learnt more about his family life. It’s a shame then that I found Luke to be about as dull as Tom even if Luke did appear to be a little more decent. I felt that the introduction of the mentally-handicapped brother was an emotionally manipulative endeavour that didn’t really work. Even the brilliant Natalie Gavin struggled in this episode as the character of Becky went through several transformations in the course of one hour.

I have to say that this fourth episode of The Syndicate continued the series’ form of being incredibly inconsistent. While I enjoyed the performance from Natalie Gavin, even she seemed to struggle to understand her character’s motivations. I felt the introduction of a mentally handicapped character was quite manipulative and I also found Luke to be a fairly dull protagonist. Ultimately the problem with this series of The Syndicate is that it seems to start and stop stories at a moment’s notice. So next week I fully expect for Luke and Jonathan to have been forgotten about as we see more of Alan’s alcoholic antics.

What did you think of this episode of The Syndicate? Were you as disappointed as I was? Leave Your Comments Below?

1 Comment

  1. Julia Middleton on April 10, 2013 at 3:36 am

    I found the whole episode absorbing and the quality of the writing and acting is first class !!

Comments are closed.