★★★ (out of five)
LAST NIGHT’S episode of Love/Hate continued at a high-octane pace as director David Caffrey brought us deeper into the world of gangland Dublin and the crime, family feuds and violent drama that goes with it.
Following last week’s highly charged opener, episode two sees Darren (Robert Sheehan) and Mary (Ruth Bradley) attempt to deal with the grief of their brother’s murder.
Their emotional turmoil is set against the commotion of a drug importation, bringing John Boy (played with menace by Aidan Gillen) into the fore.
Darren too is firmly established as our brooding anti-hero, steering the gang’s criminal activities out of the reach of the Gardaí who are on to their drug deal.
He also guides the series plot through a romantic turn, confirming him and Rosie as our couple.
Again, David Caffery’s direction effectively juxtaposes the innocence of a young child’s birthday party against the debauchery of a drug deal.
In this dystopian Dublin, the criminals rule the roost and drive past the Garda with nonchalance - and a car full of cocaine!
Like episode one, Sheehan is again excellent as Darren as he’s caught up between dealing with life back in the drugs gang and his ‘responsibilities to them’ amid striving to ensure his sister’s happiness (in one memorable scene he threatens a medium who claims their dead brother is unhappy).
He also displays a sense of vulnerability through his burgeoning relationship with past flame, Rosie.
The drug deal itself does little more than establish Jon Boy as leader of the gang as we are subjected to numerous quickly edited and clichéd montages and the audience can expect to encounter a range of dim witted familiar criminal archetypes.
David Caffery’s direction places the majority of the action over the phone which albeit renders it immediate, detaches us from the unfurling drama.
Despite the lack of effective drama, Stuart Carolan’s script succeeds in several moments of comedy where abuse is continually hurled at the innocent: the psychic medium, the clown at the birthday party, and an unsuspecting neighbor who inadvertently places his rubbish in the wrong bin!
But away from the gang and what will happen to them, the emphasis is clearly placed on the series’ romantic angle and we’re firmly left with the question as to what will become of Darren and Rosie?
Love/Hate continues for the next two weeks on Channel 5 every Wednesday at 10pm