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McMafia recap – series one, episode six

Alex Godman … in limbo
Alex Godman … in limbo Photograph: BBC/Cuba/Nick Wall

‘In this business, it’s easier to have no attachments’ – Antonio Mendez

If there’s a theme to this week’s episode, it’s that of family, not merely as source of solace, trust, comfort, meaning and purpose in a cruel and dirty world, but as a source of vulnerability. Vadim at one point recalls the many torture victims he has witnessed over the years. Even as their fingernails were ripped out, they would cry out: do as you want to me, but please spare my family. It’s on that basis he proceeds in his operations against Alex, having discovered his involvement with Kleiman.

That said, personal relationships are at a dismal ebb throughout this episode. At Alex’s place with Rebecca, a yellow bath of lamplight reflects the sallow, tense state of their relationship. She is frustrated at his lack of communication about his clearly dubious business affairs, including last week’s spectacular events, and not satisfied with his bland attempts to explain them away. She wants to know what’s really up. He coldly suggests they separate for a while, to her shock – but she does indeed move out. In fairness to Alex, this is out of a desire to protect her from Vadim, rather than any cooling off on his part, as shown when he stares wistfully at images of them in happier times.

Alex is right to be worried about Vadim, whose instincts are permanently set to homicidal, but, as ever, his mellow consigliere Ilya advises caution. Similarly counselled by his lawyer, Vadim puts together a surveillance team that will carry out surveillance against Alex and his family.

Rebecca … at the pool.
Rebecca … at the pool. Photograph: BBC/Cuba/Nick Wall

Aware that he needs to up his security, Alex contacts Joseph in Israel. It so happens Joseph want to enlist Alex as an ally in his efforts to help Lyudmilla, the romantic undercurrents of which are becoming increasingly evident, as she places a soft kiss on his lips for his efforts. Kleiman, though, who seems to have regained his composure after last week’s drama, is having none of it. In London, Joseph puts Alex in touch with a trusted security expert, and a team is assembled, who are all introduced to Alex’s family. They take it in their stride. “Whatever you do, I am on your side,” Dimitri assures his son.

Rebecca moves into an apartment and, at the pool, befriends one Sylvie, who has a baby. They get along sweetly. This, you fear, will not turn out well. Masha, carrying Dimitri’s child, goes for a consultation at an abortion clinic. She tells Katya, however, that she wants to keep the baby. Meanwhile, she is still secretly seeing Dimitri.

Katya breaks the news to Alex about the pregnancy and his father’s involvement, and we have never seen him so stricken. He is altogether cooler – indeed, Tony Blair in his oily approach to troubled waters springs to mind – when he and Katya meet Masha and offer to pay £20,000 a month for her to look after the baby as long as she disappears. She refuses.

Vadim has decided to get to Alex via Benes – his daughter, Carolina, is his weakness. After his daughter is assaulted, Benes arranges a meeting in London with Alex. They meet at a Czech restaurant, where Benes lets slip a reference to the swimming pool at Rebecca’s apartment block – how could he know that? Alex never told him. Alarmed, he excuses himself and alerts Joseph before returning to the table. Soulful and a little drunk, Benes cannot help but guiltily reveal that Vadim’s people got to him via Carolina. “They could have tortured me for days, I would have revealed nothing – but my child …”

Rebecca has invited over lovely Sylvie for wine and pasta as Sylvie’s nanny takes away her child. Rebecca intimates to Sylvie that she is pregnant. We’re still absorbing that when Sylvie holds a gun to her and, with ice-cold blood, shoots her in the belly. Yes, to no one’s surprise, she is a hired killer. Alex has dispatched Joseph to the apartment, however. He arrives in time to kill Sylvie, if not save Rebecca, who is critically injured. A distraught Alex arrives at the hospital.

Torn … Dimitri.
Torn … Dimitri. Photograph: BBC/Cuba/Nick Wall

Additional notes

  • Rebecca looks askance at Alex in the shop when he takes a shady business call and tries to disguise it. The giveaway? He says “goodbye” at the end of the call. This is TV drama. No one ever says “goodbye” at the end of a phone call.
  • Benes tells Alex they are at the only Czech restaurant in London. A quick internet check suggests this is indeed the case – it’s in West Hampstead. Try the pork knuckles.
  • The most blatant Godfather allusion to date this week, as Vadim, in a meeting, sees daughter Natasha in the hallway and has one of his men shut the double doors on her as she peers in, much as Michael Corleone so memorably does to Kay.
  • With Rebecca’s attempted murder, the stakes are now desperately high for Alex. Will he capitulate to Vadim, like Benes, or make matters worse by responding hotheadedly? Is Kleiman really out of the picture? Everything is lined up to fall apart dramatically in the final two episodes. Can’t wait.
This article titled "McMafia recap – series one, episode six" was written by David Stubbs, for on Sunday 28 January 2018 10.00pm

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