‘The Outlaws’ is a British television series produced by the BBC that came out on Amazon Prime this week. The show, set in Bristol, is about seven people fulfilling their court-mandated community service for an illegal act. Their task is to revamp a community center for the local community but along the way, each person’s personal life is also explored.
Episode 1 of The Outlaws starts in a mall shop. Rani is shopping with her mother. She sees a dress that she wants to buy but her mother tells her off. As Rani exits the shop, security personnel stop her for shoplifting. Her attempts to escape are unsuccessful.
Rani is then taken to the Avon Valley Probation Center where she meets the other five of the group. Frank Sheldon, the shifty old-timer; John Halloran, a right-wing blowhard, and a businessman; Myrna Okeke, the left-wing militant; Gregory Dillard, a disproportionately tall simpleton, and Christian Taylor.
During the middle of their first day, another member joins them. She arrives in style in a car chased by paparazzi and wearing expensive designer clothes. She is Lady Gabriella Penrose-Howe, the celebutante of the group.
The seven now work their first day under the supervision of Brenda. The group socializes and Brenda pulls Rani aside to make a pact: snitch on the group and get the recommendation letter to stay in college. Gabriella smokes a puff, which results in a tussle between John and Christian. Gabriella makes a video of them fighting as Brenda intervenes. After work finishes, the focus shifts to each of their personal lives beyond the community service.
Frank isn’t close to his daughter, whom he abandoned during her childhood and neglected through adulthood. His time with her is limited to the service getting over.
Rani is an Oxford student on a full scholarship, whose hard-working parents are not happy with her situation. Christian is revealed to be a former gang member, trying his best to keep his younger sister safe from his former gang mates. John is a family man behind the tough exterior. He has an important business meeting with Chinese investors, whose investments will be able to get his family’s enterprise out of the woods. They’re impressed with his presentation and agree to sign the deal, conditional on a fiduciary understanding.
The next day, Christian is bothered by his former mates at work. They force him into retrieving a phone line for them, in exchange for leaving his sister out of the mess. They hand him a gun, which Rani notices. After the work is complete, Brenda stops them from leaving as a heat gun is missing. During the checks, Brenda does not find either of the guns. Rani took the gun from Christian’s bag and after a tense scene, Rani’s brevity is able to pull her out of trouble at the security check.
The same day, John reaches the office in a hurry to sign the papers. But, to his surprise, the Chinese group shows him the video of him fighting with Christian that Gabriella uploaded. The deal stands cancelled, leaving him in a precarious situation.
Christian arrives at Lawrence Hill to steal the phone. Unknown to him, Rani arrives just in time to save him but the thugs take a picture of her van. The episode ends with Christian dumping the stash in the community center; John returning home a dejected man and ruminating about what he will do next to save his family; Frank, possibly reconnecting with his family, helping with his “borrowed” heat gun; and Rani, ecstatic after a wild night’s adventure.
The Episode Review
The first episode is all about first impressions and setting the pace. The characters are a diverse bunch and will make for an interesting watch as a unit going ahead. The writing is an endearing mix of funny and the grim realities of all the members of the group.
Sincere efforts are also made to make the storyline dynamic in nature and introduce a compelling subplot in the first episode itself. The Rani-Christian partnership looks like it’s going to be a thrilling development for the series. ‘The Outlaws’ starts on a promising note by making the choice to make the show about the characters as much as its central setting.
We get to take a peek into the lives of all the members, which is something that provides much-needed diversity to the plot. Britain is all about a potpourri of people from different nationalities and the show represents just that. The police taking a whiff of Christian’s robbery will further add tension to the narrative in the coming episodes. It will loom like a hanging knife over Rani and Christian’s heads.
Overall, the first episode of The Outlaws was a big hit. It strikes the rights chords and hardly gets anything wrong. Excited for the episodes ahead!