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‘Kin’ 1.06 Review: The Rat

Loyalty is put to the test when danger strikes close to home.

Charlie Cox and Clare Dunne in Kin
(Image: © Bernard Walsh/AMC+)

Our Verdict

Amanda Kinsella makes an unexpectedly bold move in an episode that somehow ups the stakes further.

For

  • - Amanda Kinsella did not come to play happy families
  • - The range of emotions Charlie Cox delivers over a short space of time
  • - Unexpected plots twists
  • - Finding out that Eamon isn't as infallible as he makes out

Against

  • - Frank's judgment isn't particularly solid for a man who is meant to be the boss
  • - The ayahuasca retreat ceremony is a tad long in the lead-up to Eamon's vision

This post contains spoilers for Kin episode 6. Read our latest review here.

Last week’s episode of Kin ended with Eamon (Ciarán Hinds) giving Amanda (Clare Dunne) an ultimatum regarding his missing drug stash, which seemed to be nothing more than wanting his gear back. It turns out that everyone has someone to answer to, and Eamon’s threat is motivated by how much money he owes to the person who supplied this haul. He is granted a two-week grace period to settle his debts, but is incredulous at the €100,000 surcharge for every day he cannot pay the full amount back. It is a bad week for Eamon who also agrees to take part in an unorthodox ceremony at the behest of his ex-wife who is dying from cancer. Meanwhile, Amanda isn’t even trying to comply with his demands and instead takes a very different path to protect her son.

One of the drawbacks of making a family crime drama is it's near impossible to make something that doesn’t feel derivative of other great titles in this subgenre, whether it's the all-time great The Sopranos or the recent hit Peaky Blinders. Despite its contemporary setting, Kin is more aligned with the latter, and there are several familiar story beats in earlier episodes that lent themselves to this comparison. Heading into the second half of the season has seen a shift toward a more surprising turn of events, which is a result of Amanda’s journey from a grieving mother to a challenger to the throne. Except she isn’t trying to take Birdy’s (Maria Doyle Kennedy) matriarch role, and it becomes clear in episode 6 that her priority truly lies with her son Anthony (Mark McKenna Jr.) rather than a power grab.  

It takes the entire episode to understand what Amanda is striving to achieve and I don’t think even she could foresee the big swing she was going to take — or at least the swing that is implied. Several things have to happen to push her toward this act of betrayal and at first, it looks like she was squeezing Kem (Ryan Lincoln) to help with her Eamon problem. Rather, she dangles the promise of a new car to determine whether he was the mole leaking information about the Kinsella movements. Over coffee, she asks Jimmy (Emmett J. Scanlan) and Michael (Charlie Cox) whether they have had previous issues with rats in the Kinsella affairs, and the answer is an emphatic no. The reason is Frank (Aidan Gillen) keeps the “need to know” circle small, and Jimmy uses this moment to voice his disdain toward Amanda’s recent interest in the business. “Frank runs this family, not you” he pointedly tells her, which comes across as his own attempt to reassert dominance. He is still unhappy that she went to Frank first about the Eric problem, but this is nothing in comparison to what he will do if he finds out she rang the cops. 

Hanna Adeogun and Charile Cox in Kin

Hannah Adeogun and Charile Cox in 'Kin' (Image credit: Bernard Walsh/AMC+)

Amanda doesn’t reveal why she is suddenly concerned there might be a leak and sets about her investigation targetting the most obvious suspect. Kem has already brushed off accusations like this after Fudge was shot and it turns out that Frank didn’t press him hard enough. He stonewalls Amanda, but his petrified reaction when she threatens him with Jimmy is all she needs to confirm her suspicions. The information Eamon spouted when he delivered his warning was too specific, and from this conversation she deduced someone was talking. 

While they don’t have the biggest operation, the Kinsella success story owes a lot to loyalty. Times have changed, and in the first episode it became clear that those in charge of the game are no longer playing by the old rules. In fact, Eamon’s decision not to challenge Caolan Moore’s (Lloyd Cooney) disrespect toward the Kinsellas is what leads to Eric’s drive-by shooting — and Jamie’s subsequent death. This was the catalyst for everything that has followed, which includes the major act of betrayal enacted by both Kem and Amanda.

During this chat, Amanda finds out that Kem set up Fudge in the shooting that took his life, and he also tells her Eamon’s people have been watching Michael’s daughter Anna (Hannah Adeogun). The latter piece of information had nothing to do with Kem — it was Michael who led them directly to her — and rather than attempt to engage in conversation with her (as I suspected they might), they have been simply tailing her. This is a major issue as Anna has arranged to meet her father in a public location for a coffee, which puts them directly in the crosshairs. Timing-wise, Amanda gets in touch with Michael moments before his brains are about to be blown out and he manages to grab his daughter before it is too late. She is not the target but we have already seen one innocent Kinsella meet their end before they turned 18. 

Before this interruption, Michael had been having a rather lovely if not awkward hang out with Anna. There is a cute generation gap moment when he explains how a Bluetooth speaker works to her (of course, she knows), and this conversation is far less fraught than their other recent interactions — well, that is until gunmen enter the cafe. 

“She thinks you’re the devil,” is what Anna’s gran thought of Michael before the shootout, and whatever inkling of hope he had about building a relationship is snatched away thanks to the mortal danger she is put in. Her phone number has been disconnected and there is no way for him to reach out. In a way, Anna has been his tether to the possibility of a better life and the man he wants to be, and without this beacon, Michael might head down a very dark (and bloody) path. Once again, Cox deftly moves between a range of emotions that begins with sheer joy as he is sitting across from his daughter to palpable fear with just a door between him and death.   

Amanda’s message gave him precious seconds to hide in the cafe’s storage closet and the speedy arrival of the police ensured the worst that happened was shots fired into the door. No one is physically hurt, however, Michael is close to having another seizure — Anna’s presence stops the stress trigger. The whole sequence is incredibly tense and the tiny storage closet is far from a fortress. 

When Michael asks Amanda how she knew Anna was being watched, she spills everything Kem told her, and he is unsurprisingly furious. He thinks she was too busy playing detective when real people’s lives were at stake. Michael is genuinely shaken by how close he was to getting killed in front of his daughter, but Amanda also notes “they were always going to look for our weak spots.” She has a valid point because it was his actions that led them to Anna and not Kem’s intel. In a move that makes no sense to him, Amanda explains she let Kem go because she doesn’t want to risk either him or Jimmy going to prison for life — she knows they would definitely kill him. Enough blood has been spilled and she breaks this cycle of violence with this act of contrition.  

Maria Doyle Kennedy and Aidan Gillen in Kin

Maria Doyle Kennedy and Aidan Gillen in 'Kin' (Image credit: AMC+)

The grilling doesn’t stop for Amanda and when she returns home she is summoned to a meeting to discuss Eric’s future. It turns out that his conversation with Birdy did wonders and Frank has been convinced to fight for his son’s freedom. Sure, he was reluctant when his sister approached him earlier in the episode, but Birdy made a solid case by emphasizing family loyalty. A similar tactic doesn’t work with Amanda because when Birdy emphatically states she doesn’t want a divided family, she does so by reinforcing the notion that Amanda isn’t a Kinsella by blood. If she isn’t considered a legitimate Kinsella then she isn’t going to play by their code. 

One final push toward the choice Amanda makes is due to a piece of mail from their parish church and a memorial image of Jamie. At this moment it becomes clear that if she doesn’t act now then both sons will pay the largest price. 

“You’re making a huge mistake, Frank,” is Amanda’s response to his decision. From Eric’s arrest and the car dealership search warrant the following morning, it appears Amanda has done what no other Kinsella would dream of: she called the cops. Frank’s judgment has been shaky before he sided with his son, and one prediction I did land is the method Eamon’s men use to get to the Kinsella patriarch. After arranging to meet someone using the Cruisr app, Frank’s most loyal man Dotser (Neill Fleming) offers to check his hot hook-up isn’t a plant and he loses his life for this act. Frank barely gets out of the situation and is shocked when he arrives home to find more than the one police patrol car, which he quickly realizes is for his son. After last week’s victory, this is a very bad run of events for the Kinsellas. 

Meanwhile, Eamon has temporarily gone off the grid to give his dying ex the one thing she wants, and that is for him to accompany her to an ayahuasca retreat out in the Irish wilderness. He is reluctant to engage in this alternative therapy and instead wants to send her to the U.S. for experimental medical treatment. Eamon is the kind of man who doesn’t like to be vulnerable, and what follows is him literally puking up the past. When he stumbles outside my first thought was the rules that were implemented in Nine Perfect Strangers regarding a buddy system are surprisingly absent here. Considering how close they are to a river it might not be best to let people who are tripping wander outside alone, but Eamon doesn’t make it far before he collapses. 

What follows is a vision of him as a young boy drowning and a woman who is most likely his mother jumping in and saving him. Unfortunately, she dies and he is left speaking to Amanda wearing the same red dress. “She’s happy you’re alive,” this version of Amanda tells him and he sobs hysterically while lying on the grass. This trippy sequence did make me think of both The Sopranos and Peaky Blinders, and the implication here seems to be that, unlike the Kinsellas, Eamon doesn’t have any close family. Or at least that is my Psychology 101 reading of this psychedelic therapy and how Eamon’s hallucination fits with the overall themes. While it is good to get more Eamon backstory — and Hinds is terrific — spending that much time on the initial ceremony did feel unnecessary. Although, the actual dream itself is an effective narrative device, as is considering what the ramifications might be.

With only two episodes left to go in Kin’s first season, the tables have turned in a major way. Birdy didn’t want a divided Kinsella family, but she hasn't factored in Amanda’s drive to protect her son; Eamon changed the rules in the first episode; and Amanda has seemingly blown matters up further by picking up the phone. Bloodshed kicked this whole thing off, but violence isn’t the only way to change the landscape.