The Gold – Season 1 Episode 1 “To Be King” Recap & Review

To Be King

Episode 1 of The Gold begins with a glimpse of an attempted robbery on 26 November 1983 at the Brink’s-Mat Depot, in the trading estate of Heathrow Airport. Two guards are taken by the armed robbers to the vault in the back. One of them feels the nerves and forgets his part of the combination. The robbers can’t get it open but find something way more valuable: £26 million worth of gold bullion. DI Nicki Jennings and Tony Brightwell of the Flying Squad are called to the scene.

The robbers contacted noted gold dealer Kenneth Noye to “wash” the gold. He is one of the only persons in the UK who could move this amount of gold back into the market unnoticed. That is the only way they’re making anything of the gold”: by moving it back into the market. Jennings and Brightwell are told the whole story. They suspect it is an inside job (which it was, in real life). They focus their attention on Robert Wright, who looks nervous and keeps changing his narrative to avoid being a witness.

Before they can do anything more, Jennings and Brightwell are called back to the station at Scotland Yard. Micky McAvoy is the leader of the gang and greets Kenneth in a storage space where they have stashed the gold with Brian Robinson. We meet the protagonist of the series next; DCI Brian Boyce. He is a decorated police officer who just missed becoming the head of the UK’s ACT unit. But the bosses have something more valuable for him. Boyce is put in charge of a special task force at the Yard to hunt down the stolen gold.

Although he does not put Jennings and Brightwell on the gold case initially, Boyce has a change of heart. We next meet two very important characters in the whole scheme of “washing” the gold. Gordon Parry is an astute middleman who offers an “investment opportunity” to Ewyn Cooper, who is a respected solicitor in London. These are the men who will be responsible for opening up shell corporations, buying land, and making all of that money come in real pound terms.

Edwyn is a street-smart mongrel who married into old money. His wife’s, Isabelle, parents are affluent and established members of society. They always make him feel like he owes them something and take most major financial decisions about their lives without Edwyn’s involvement. Kenneth meets with John Palmer, who is a skilled gold merchant, to cover the bullion gold. Palmer thinks the task is too big and since the stolen gold is 100% pure, it would be nearly impossible to get all of it back into the market without raising alarms. 

Palmer is taken in by its beauty and agrees to smelt the bar that Kenny gives him. Parry and Edwyn plan to acquire and rezone the wharves in an underdeveloped area near the river. This will be one of their first gold-related investments. The coppers are able to catch Wright in a lie and he is forced to identify the robbers from a lineup. He was indeed the inside man who let them in the building. Micky is having an affair and his wife points the police to his probable location. With the help of DC John Fordham, the police are able to catch Micky.

Wright identifies Robinson and him from the lineup, giving the police two of the robbers. Palmer is able to sell one of the bricks smelted with other metals but once again reiterates to Kenny that it will be a huge task to move the rest of the gold. Parry arranges a meeting between Edwyn and Kenny. The former agrees to wash the money but takes a hefty commission for the same. Kenny agrees the deal.

While questioning Micky, we learn that Nicki’s father is an infamous criminal. She herself has no ties to his past criminal activities but people still recognize her as his daughter. The episode ends with a phone call between Micky and Kenny, where the latter claims that the stolen gold will make sure “new kings” are established in the old system. Kenny has already accepted the job and started working. He moved the gold from the storage space which Boyce’s task force visited to bookend the episode. 

The Episode Review

Episode 1 of The Gold hints that this BBC retelling is not seriously rooted in historical facts. As is the case with most BBC offerings, this one also seems focused on breaching the veil of facts and context to explore Britain’s complex class structures through a mix of fictional and real characters. The Gold has many moving parts and hence it will be important for the creatives to establish a baseline.

In the absence of such an act, the storytelling threatens to become convoluted and messy. We hope that does not happen but did find traces of evidence of the same in the season opener. Although I like the setup, I do wish the writers would have trimmed down on the heavy exposition that settles deep into the show’s character. 

Episode 1 was quite long in the runtime and felt dragged at times. The acting is top notch and with this capable cast, expect that to be consistent throughout. It remains to be seen how much of the real story is translated in the teleplay here. For now, on to the next episode!


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You can read our full season review for The Gold here!

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