As I pointed out in my last review, the main failing of The Syndicate is that it primarily focuses on one character every week. That meant last week’s episode was a rather dull affair due to Jimi Mistry’s Nurse Tom not being a particularly interesting character. Thankfully this week Kay Mellor’s drama got back on track by switching the focus over to Alison Steadman’s auxiliary nurse Rose. As we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks, Rose has trouble with her knees and hopes to get them fixed with her lottery money. But last week we also saw a government official attempting to track her down for some reason.
As with every episode of The Syndicate we flash back to the day before the win to learn more about Rose’s personal life. Apart from her bad knees, Rose has issues with her extended family and particularly trying to raise five children after her late husband passed away. Her son Sean is giving her particular grief as he has been kicked out of his girlfriend’s house and moved back to his mum’s bringing his baby with him. Rose’s other children include Bethany, who aspires to make it as a dancer, and Michaela who wants to go to university. We are then once again shown the scene of Rose going to bingo with Helen and Mandy, where she tells her friends about her dancing background. After she leaves them, she sneaks off on the bus and ends up at the house of Mark Addy’s Alan. It appears as if the two have a regular relationship in which he supplies her with cannabis to help ease the pain she gets from her knees. However on the night of the win it seems that their relationship might be getting a little bit more intimate. But as they get closer, the news of the win is revealed and their lives change forever. As the syndicate’s story starts to gain national exposure, Rose attracts the attention of the benefits office who have her name on their books.
It transpires that Janice Weaver, who appeared in last week’s episode, is investigating Rose fraudulently claiming benefits for the last few years. It is later revealed that Rose has been claiming benefits since her husband died and didn’t come off them once she got her job at the hospital. Janice finally tracks Rose down and informs her that the board may want to make an example of her by sending her to prison for a maximum of seven years. Realising she might not be around very longer, Rose starts to put her money to good use by helping out her children. She attempts to reunite Sean and his wife by offering to buy them a laundrette with a flat above it. Meanwhile Bethany is rewarded with her own dance academy and Michaela’s university fees are sorted. Rose also finally gets her knees sorted and finds out that she may well be able to dance again. The final section of the episode sees the syndicate members holding a party for Rose as they feel she may be feeling down about her impending court date. Luckily Rose discovers that she simply has to pay a fine rather than serve a prison term. But there is a sting in the tale as the papers get wind of Rose’s benefit scandal and seemingly aren’t going to let her get away with it.
While this is definitely Rose’s episode, we do get some plot developments revolving around the other syndicate members primarily Mandy. As we saw last week, Mandy is lying about her husband being out on a job and this week we found out why. This happened in a scene in which Rose visited Mandy as we saw her journey to down to the cellar where she is keeping Steve as some sort of prisoner. She seems to have stolen a lot of stock from work as Steve is now being fed through a drip and is also strapped down so he cannot move. It seems that Mandy is also being blackmailed by Helen for some reason though it’s not yet clear if the two stories are related. Meanwhile Becky is still loved-up with Luke who is now giving her driving lessons. However I’m not sure how long Luke will stay with Becky after he finds out what her mother has been doing to her father.
I wasn’t quite sure about this episode of The Syndicate especially after finding out Rose was a benefit cheat. While Mellor does try to explain Rose’s reasons for falsely claiming handouts, there’s no getting away from the fact that Rose broke the law. But for me there was one reason that I cared so much about Rose and that was Alison Steadman. Steadman’s gave a mesmerising turn as the put-upon nurse with the hectic family life and the dodgy knees who just wanted to do something for herself. Through Steadman’s performance I believed Rose’s whole backstory about being a former dancing champion who’d lost a lot after her husband had died. I also thought Steadman had surprisingly good chemistry with Mark Addy which was evident in the scenes between Rose and Alan. Though I found it hard to believe Addy and Steadman as a couple the pair somehow made it work and there love scene was oddly touching. The problem I had with the episode was that Rose had far too many children and I really struggled to tell them apart. It seemed that every scene introduced yet another one of Rose’s offspring and I felt that some really didn’t get any exposure at all. I’m also not sure about the scenes involving Mandy’s weird new storyline and I hope Mellor finds some way to make it believable because at the moment it’s pretty far-fetched.
Overall I think this was a return to form for the second series of The Syndicate as I was really gripped by Rose’s story. I felt Steadman made us sympathise with her world-weary nurse who just wanted to have a bit of fun in her life. Despite some heavy-handed moments, I enjoyed Rose’s story from beginning to end and I hope Steadman continues to be a presence in the remainder of the series. I’m just not sure about Mandy’s wacky new storyline which will be incredibly prominent in episode four.
What did you think to this episode of The Syndicate? Did you enjoy it as much as I did? Leave Your Comments Below.