Kin (RTÉ One, 9.30pm) is finally starting to catch fire. The first two episodes of Montrose's high-profile new crime drama spent so long setting the table it was a wonder viewers didn't end up receiving a poke in the eye from a stray spoon. But in part three a slow-burner finally roars to life.
It's an episode with both a bombshell and a shoot-out. Inevitably, brothers Jimmy (Emmett Scanlan) and Michael (Charlie Cox) extract bloody revenge against Caolán Moore, after tracking the killer to a hipster bar in Smithfield. Meanwhile a dark secret from the past is apparently revealed with the very broad hint – and yes, children, here be spoilers – that Moore's victim, Jamie, is Michael's son rather than Jimmy's.
Sit down and pour yourself a cup of tea as you let that settle in. It seem that when Jimmy was behind bars for a stretch, wife Amanda (Clare Dunne) became friendly with her brother-in-law. Rather too friendly, Jimmy would say. This comes out as Amanda requests Michael be permitted speak at Jamie’s funeral.
Jamie’s parentage isn’t stated as fact yet is clearly implied (and chimes with the fact that Jamie was an introvert like Michael rather than a MMA wannabe like his “dad” ). Jimmy, though, doesn’t want to acknowledge an inconvenient truth. And so he vetoes Amanda’s plan for a eulogy by Michael, insisting he won’t allow himself be publicly humiliated.
That bolt from the heavens arrives as the Kinsellas are preparing to bury Jamie, a victim of the feud between Eric Kinsella (Sam Keeley), hotheaded son of the Kinsella patriarch Frank (Aidan Gillen), and Caolán Moore.
Moore is a hired thug in the employment of heroin wholesaler Eamon Cunningham (Ciarán Hinds). With hair slicked back, eyes black and empty, Cunningham turns up at Jamie's funeral. He's there to offer condolences. And to ensure the Kinsellas get the message that the matter is at an end. A tragedy will not be allowed become a vendetta.
It’s a wasted effort, as far as Michael, Jimmy and Amanda are concerned. In a tense set-piece Michael walks into Frank Ryan’s in Smithfield. This is surely the least “gangland” boozer in all of Dublin, where the only crime on display is excessive hipster-ism.
But it’s where Moore is on a bender, and where Michael shoots him dead. The hitman’s exit is temporarily delayed, though, as he tries to leave through a locked door. The laboured getaway means he’s apparently identified by another of Cunningham’s thugs. And now, as Cunningham tells Frank in what might be described as a frank exchange of views, it’s all out war.
It’s what we wanted from Kin: dark secrets and explosive set-pieces. That said, the episode probably won’t do much to assuage those who have accused the show of glamorising gangland violence. In a nod to the milieu of Dublin criminals with colourful tabloid aliases, we learn that Michael is known as “The Magician” because “he makes people disappear”.
Is that in poor taste? Or is RTÉ to be commended for bringing real life, in all its awful grittiness, to our screens? The debate is sure to run.
What is undeniable is that Kin has shaken off its early doors lethargy and is at last going places.