The Syndicate Episode 2 review: Jimi Mistry’s Tom takes centre stage in a slow instalment of the BBC lottery drama
As I mentioned last week each episode of The Syndicate focuses on one of our five lottery winners. Here the main star is Nurse Tom, played by Jimi Mistry, who has been trying to have a baby with girlfriend Natalie for several years. This episode starts with the syndicate informing Natalie of the win before flashing back four months earlier to fill in some of the gaps of the story.
As the flashback begins, Tom and Natalie are being informed that their third attempt at IVF has not been successful. Learning that they will now have to pay for further treatment, the couple’s situation looks bleak. While in the shop Tom notices that the four of the syndicate’s numbers have come up and rushes to tell the rest of the group. Helen later reveals that she didn’t buy the lottery ticket as she didn’t have enough money in her bank account. It is at this moment that Helen snaps and finally leaves the syndicate meaning that she no longer has a claim over the money. We then move to a scene shown last week where Tom and Natalie meet the people from the adoption agency. During this exchange Tom becomes quite angry with the constant questions these visitors have for him namely about his mental health and financial worries. It transpires that Tom once tried to run away from home when he was ten after his father left his mother. After this he spent some time in a children’s psychiatric hospital as his mother felt she couldn’t care for him properly. We also find out that Tom has tried to track down his father however this search has never been successful. Eventually an angry Tom walks out of the meeting with the adoption people leaving Natalie heartbroken.
However Natalie’s mood brightens when she learns about the money believing that this will help them continue IVF treatment. She also informs Tom that she has tracked down a man who will assist him in finding his father as the couple can now afford to pay for his services. However it’s not all good news for Tom as the lottery win starts to alienate him from his old friends. As Tom holds a party for his friends he quips about how he could afford to buy all of their houses which causes them to leave the party early. Later his friends tell Tom that they feel he is no longer one of them as he doesn’t share their money woes any longer. Meanwhile the meeting with at the IVF clinic is a success as they tell Tom and Natalie that they can start the treatment straight away. At the same time Tom is informed that the private detective has tracked down his father who has now moved down south. Tom and Natalie are later shocked when they arrive at his father’s front door and meet Tom’s older sister. Tom later learns the truth that his father Mohammed already had a family when he met Tom’s mother and she also knew about this. But the episode’s end brings happier news for Tom when Natalie reveals that she may well be pregnant as her period is late.
Despite this being Tom’s episode we do learn more about the other syndicate members. After seeing several of Mandy’s husband Steven’s violent outbursts last week, we finally learn that he beats her up on a regular basis. However in the scenes set in the present, Steven is nowhere to be seen with Mandy lying about him being away with work. There’s better news for Becky as she is reunited with the lovely café assistant Luke. He apologises to her for his outburst last week and the two share a sweet kiss together. Unfortunately Alan’s alcoholism rears its ugly head as he starts drinking on a regular basis and makes a drunken play for Natalie’s sister during Tom’s party. Finally we see a different side to Rose after she dodges a visit from pension officer Janice. At the moment it is unclear what secrets Rose is hiding but I’m sure we will learn more when the series focuses on her next week.
After last week’s fast-paced opening episode, I felt this instalment of The Syndicate was a little bit of a let-down. This can partly be attributed to the fact that the character of Tom is probably the dullest of the five syndicate members. I also got a feeling that I’d seen all of Tom’s traumas before and I felt at times that Kay Mellor’s script lapsed into laziness. Long lost fathers and pregnancy struggles are both fairly clichéd plot lines and Mellor did nothing original with either story. To me it was also fairly predictable that Tom’s pub friends would turn against him the moment he started using his lottery winnings. I personally had no sympathy for Tom’s friends as I felt they acted completely maliciously towards Tom who had really done nothing wrong. Despite Tom being a dull character, I thought that Jimi Mistry’s performance was fairly engaging throughout. Mistry is an amiable screen presence and I felt he added a sympathetic edge to the character of Tom. However Mistry’s performance doesn’t take away from the fact that there are a lot more interesting characters in this series of The Syndicate. I’m personally still gripped by Siobhan Finneran’s story and I think Mandy’s episode will probably be the best of the whole series. Meanwhile Mark Addy and Alison Steadman are also lending fine support as they flesh out their characters week by week.
Overall I felt this episode of The Syndicate was a bit of an anti-climax after last week’s cracking opening instalment. This is because I felt Tom was a rather dull character and Mellor’s script really did nothing to ease this feeling. The only positive about this episode is that now it is over we can focus on some of the more interesting syndicate members. My hope is that the other episodes of The Syndicate are a bit livelier than this one because if they’re not then this series could be very dull indeed.
What did you think to this episode of The Syndicate? Did you like the character of Tom? Leave Your Comments Below.