How Do I Fix This?
Fully Loaded Headache
De Capa y Espada
We Ride Out for Family
Top Boy has always been a solid crime drama, depicting life on the streets of London’s criminal underbelly through a raw and authentic lens.
When the show dropped on Channel 4 all those years back, the two 4 episode series fell largely under the radar. Netflix then snapped up the rights to Top Boy, but instead of a third season, rebranded the whole show into “Top Boy: Summerhouse” and “Top Boy”, with Summerhouse serving as a prequel to Netflix’s soft reboot/ continuation of the show that preceded it.
With a bigger budget and aspirations, Top Boy successfully captured what made its predecessors so enthralling while simultaneously adding enough originality and excitement to justify its reboot.
It’s been 3 years since Top Boy released on Netflix and now the second season (or fourth, depending on how you look at it!) takes the same ideas and expands that out for a wide-spread 8 episode romp.
All the familiar characters make a return, while the story serves as both a slice of life snapshot to how these youths eke through life while simultaneously centering on Dushane and his operation’s expansion, which serves as the stable pillar to which everything else gravitates around.
This season picks up with Jamie released from prison while Dushane expands his empire, casting his sights to Morocco and Spain for lucrative shipments coming in. When a man named Juan makes a move on Dushane’s newly acquired turf and the feds start to intercept drops, Dushane sends Jamie out to try and sort this out. Only, Jamie finds his loyalty wavering.
This storyline is the predominant arc but there are several other subplots that revolve around that, including a redevelopment plan for Summerhouse. With the very real threat of the residents being displaced, Amma finds herself on the verge of being deported. Only, a family tragedy hits even harder for her.
Meanwhile, Shelley continues to work at her nail salon but finds a face from her past sniffing around, looking for trouble. Speaking of which, Lauryn finds herself in trouble thanks to controlling boyfriend Curtis.
Lauryn’s sister Jaq serves a little better, and she has a big role to play this year, serving as Dushane’s right-hand woman. Finally there’s Sully, who remains off the grid for most of the first half until he’s thrown unwittingly into the thick of action and back to the forefront of the action.
There are other subplots here too but largely the season focuses on each of these plots, with an organic feel to jumping across to each of these storylines.
The word authentic is thrown around a lot but anyone who has been in the drug trade will know that some of these scenes are pretty accurate. Maybe not the shootouts but from personal experience in the past, some of the dealings outside and the very-real threat of police suddenly showing up and searching you is something that many youths have to deal with.
The one problem with this season though comes from how the police are handled. There are detectives here but the police work is largely an after-thought and only really shows up when the script calls for it.
That’s a shame because for the most part, Top Boy does a great job with its characters – especially Jamie who gets a lot of character growth and development across the 8 episodes.
Much like seasons past, there’s a consistent effort to try and keep things tight and compact, with close-up shots and handheld cameras used a lot throughout the season. This is probably one of the biggest grips I had with some of the material in season 1 and it’s great to see that addressed here, especially given how Summerhouse was filmed all those years ago.
With great acting, a tight, organic script and some shocking twists and turns, Top Boy solidifies itself as a worthy crime drama. After the final episode, you’ll be crying out for Netflix to renew this one for season 3. And you know what? This show absolutely deserves it.
Verdict - 8/10