Last week's opener was a slow-burn setup to the shocking climax, where well-heeled Alvo (Ben Chaplin) was shot in the head by an undersized gangster wearing a grinning Tony Blair mask, in full view of the four friends he'd invited to his luxury Majorcan villa. Part Two dealt with the immediate aftermath of the bloody murder; resulting in a less languorous pace, if ultimately giving things a less innovative, insidious feel.
The key thing this episode had to do was make it seem plausible the gang wouldn't just call the police to report Alvo's murder, as they've done nothing (knowingly) illegal and have each other as support. This was handled very well: the shooter "Tony Blair" (Tomas Pozzi) incriminated Baxter (John Simm) by smearing his saliva on the murder weapon; "Tony" was seen driving away in a police car (placing doubt in everyone's mind that the police are even trustworthy); Baxter reasoned that implicating the cops would make theirs a federal case, meaning they'd be stuck in Majorca for months awaiting trial; and Woody (Max Beesley) realized it looks very suspicious that they arrived on the island and Alvo's villa was signed over to them, shortly before he was killed.
If you didn't enjoy the easygoing pace of last week, Part Two was much livelier and nicely broadened the story. I particularly enjoyed Botto's performance as the peculiarly friendly detective, who nevertheless sensed something's amiss about the four men. At times Maria felt like a headmistress arriving to see what four naughty schoolboys have been up to behind their teacher's back (notice how she held Baxter's hand when she took him in for questioning?) This episode built to scenes where Maria interviewed each of them individually at the villa (after they'd hidden Alvo's body in a freezer, having sliced his feet off with an electric knife to fit), and various discrepancies in their story came to light.
Will the foursome split into pairs soon? There were signs here that Baxter and Quinn (Philip Glenister) are closer friends; likewise Rick and Woody. Right now the boys are united as a foursome, but I'm wondering how long it'll be before desperation has them turning on each other.
The only problem with Part Two, in comparison to last week, is that we didn't really learn anything about the characters, and most of the plot was instead driven by hide-the-corpse/money black comedy. There's such a brilliant cast involved in Mad Dogs that you can't help wanting to get under the skin of their characters, but beyond Rick poking fun at Woody's chiseled physique (shades of Alvo's mickey-taking last week), there wasn't much fleshing out of the four leads. It was all about seeing how they reacted to a horrendous situation.
Mad Dogs is proving itself one of the more entertaining British dramas in awhile; beautifully filmed, nicely acted, with a storyline you can't help feeling gripped by. I can't wait to see how it pans out, how about you?
- I wasn't convinced by the gang's plan to dig up Alvo's body and plant it on the yacht, so the cops will eventually find him and think a drug deal went south. Forensics would surely detect Alvo's body was recently covered in earth, right?
- I wondered how long it would take Max Beesley to deliver full frontal nudity.
- I didn't like Part One's flashforward opening, but the same device worked a lot better here; with the four lad's sitting by the pool and the surprise arrival of detective Maria.
- The mannequin being used as Alvo's dead body was, unfortunately, quite apparent.