Sky Atlantic’s Tin Star
Season 1, Episode 9: “Fortunate Boy”
Directed by Craig Viveiros
Written by Rowan Joffe
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “This Be the Verse” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 1 finale, “My Love is Vengeance” – click here
Open on England, ten years before our current timeline. In a trailer out in the country, a young boy named Simon (Jack Veal) wakes to find Jim (Tim Roth) just waking up, too. His mother Helen (Leanne Best) likely still drunk, not wanting to deal with him. So he and dad work on breakfast together in the kitchen – crisp sandwiches this morning. They have a bit of a macabre conversation while they eat. We see that while Jack is more of a playful influence in the boy’s life, mom is an angry, pushy alcoholic. She can barely let the lad enjoy Saturday morning.
“Would you rather know how you‘re gonna die, or when you‘re gonna die?”
Later, Jack takes Simon out to the barn where they’ve got a load of puppies. They fed them all, reciting their names, naming the ones who’ve not been named yet. What’s evident is that, while Jack is clearly an alcoholic, an addict himself, he’s the more positive influence of the two adult figures in the boy’s life. At least from what we can see.
Then we discover the truth: Helen is Frank’s (Ian Puleston-Davies) half-sister. This means Whitey (Oliver Coopersmith) is Frank’s nephew. It all comes together. So, we can see the betrayal coming for the little lad, once it’s discovered Mr. Devlin is an undercover copper.
So now we know, Whitey isn’t Jim’s actual child. But, boy, do they ever have a history!
Eventually Helen wants more, and to know more about Jack. He’s reluctant to talk, though. He’d rather fuck off. But his work means more than that, so he doesn’t leave. She has a husband, too. It makes the entire mess all the more complicated. She worries if her man finds out, he’ll cut her throat. Then she suggests talking to Frank, getting him to help. Leading our copper right where he needs to go.
Meanwhile, back in the city, Jack is Jim. Angela (Genevieve O’Reilly) waits in bed at home. His dual personalities on either side of the law don’t come into contact with one another. Except for the fact he’s gone for weeks at a time, undercover, no calls. He has to tell her truthfully about his work when she asks: “Do you fuck her?” He doesn’t need any words to tell her, she knows by his reaction.
But the next day, regardless, he’s back in the countryside at the trailer with Helen and Simon. The boy mentions to Jack his mother was talking to Frank, soon the uncle and the boyfriend will meet. Simon also wants to know if the man loves his mother, and if so why Jack has to leave all the time. A complicated situation for a little fella to try understanding. It’s also unnerving to see Jim slip into the Jack persona, in how he has to go undercover so deeply, pretending to love this woman, maybe actually loving her, in addition to getting close to the kid. Makes for a loaded situation.
One night, Simon goes to look for his dog, and men descend on the trailer. One of whom is Malcolm (Geoff Bell), dear ole dad, Helen’s husband. He wants to find out how long the boy knew. He’s a scary man, an even worse father. Simon gets away after stabbing dad in the leg, running back to tell Jack what’s happened. This sends Helen into a fit, but Mr. Devlin’s prepared to face the music.
When Jack comes to after a shotgun barrel to the face, he’s blood spattered, and Malcolm is ready to finish him off. “Take one for the force then, shall I, hey?” our copper grins through the pain. This gives Malcolm pause, so he goes outside to tell his wife that Jack is “Old Bill,” he’s the “Filth.” Now he’s wondering how much his wife told the copper about whatever nasty business he’s been doing.
He puts a gun in Helen’s hands, telling her to kill Jack. But she can’t do that. Frank eventually shows up asking about it all, wanting to know how a guy like that could’ve so personally infiltrated their ranks. He makes clear to Helen he could lose everything he’s built if the coppers come down on him because of Jack, their situation.
They’re keeping Jack out in the dog cages, bloody, beaten, while deciding on what to do with the cop in their midst. Malcolm and Frank are both a bit worried about killing one of Old Bill’s lads. So, they’ve got to put him down, then get away for a good, long time.
Malcolm goes out back to do the deed. However, before he can, Simon’s let Jack out, so the copper beats his father to a pulp with a board. After that he takes off into the night, even if the kid wails, begging him to stay. Jack promises to come back later. We know that after this night, he likely never ever came back.
And in present day, Whitey tells this story to Jim’s daughter, the truth about her father. Ever since he was put into a care home, the young man’s been trying to track down Jack, a.k.a Jim Worth. It doesn’t impress Anna, after realising this is the one who’s killed her brother. She’s left at the end of a gun, he won’t let her go.
This episode finally shows the truth, as well as gives us so much intensity, emotional agony, tension, that it’s one of the BEST of the series so far! Hands down.
“My Love is Vengeance” comes next, the finale of Season 1. Lucky to already know Season 2 is locked in, for those of us who’ve become huge fans in these initial ten episodes.