What to Watch Verdict
The penultimate episode cranks up the heat while leaving some questions left to be answered.
Amanda's nuanced journey
Clare Dunne and Charlie Cox's chemistry
An insight into the Kinsella power structure
Strong direction and tension building from Tessa Hoffe
Anthony's school would surely have better security than Con Doyle makes it seem
Still need to know more about Nikki (and even Birdy)
Perhaps too many red herrings and misdirects
This post contains spoilers for Kin episode 7. Read our latest review here.
The Kinsellas are now facing multiple threats to their business and lives from both legal channels and Eamon’s (Ciarán Hinds) men, who decides the the Kinsella kids become fair game, leading to another daring solution from Amanda (Clare Dunne) in the penultimate episode of Kin.
Last week concluded with Eric’s (Sam Keeley) arrest and the raid at the car dealership, which at the time seemed like it was at the hands of Amanda. The assumption I (incorrectly) made was that the Jamie memorial flier from their parish church prompted Amanda to choose her one remaining son over the family whose name she bears. This plot speculation was also informed by Birdy’s (Maria Doyle Kennedy) insistence that Amanda falls in line while also making sure she knows she isn’t a real Kinsella. Instead, the reason behind this series of events was good old-fashioned police work that led detectives to both Eric and the money-laundering scheme.
Am I disappointed it wasn’t Amanda? Somewhat, as while no one likes a rat there were logical steps to this choice. In fact, as the face of the car dealership, Amanda is in danger of also going to prison unless she can find a plausible story to suggest she had been kept in the dark about the whole scheme. Perhaps it's my own fault for pointing out the familiar storylines at the start of the season because now when something unexpected happens it is actually a misdirect. However, the red herrings littered along the way — such as Nikki’s smirk — come across as purposefully pointing the audience in the wrong direction rather than fitting the overall plot. I like surprises, but on occasion it feels like Kin throws in a reaction shot as a means to willfully mislead.
Tension flares further when Amanda seemingly aligns herself with no one when she hires her own solicitor to deal with the serious charges. She doesn’t want to be represented by someone with a reputation for getting criminals off because this implies guilt. Her only way out of this predicament is to think outside of the usual Kinsella box and turn to an old foe in a bid to place the blame on a dead man.
Money and motherhood are the keys to sweeten the deal, and all it takes is €500,000 (out of the €2 million they have stashed) to aid her chances at staying a free woman. Amanda is facing up to 14 years in prison — though she is more likely to do six to 10 years — for her part in a money-laundering enterprise, and she cannot fathom missing Anthony’s (Mark McKenna Jr.) milestones when she has already lost Jamie. When giving an update to the family about her precarious situation, she makes sure to emphasize her loyalty, and now I believe her.
Excusing herself, Amanda heads up the roof of her house and has a booze and coke party for one until Michael (Charlie Cox) joins her — but only for company and not drinking. Scenes between these two actors crackle with the tension of the past and this one gets to the heart of their parental fears.
Michael has come to the conclusion that Amanda was right about Anna (Hannah Adeogun) being safer without him, as almost being shot will do that to you. Meanwhile, Amanda is coming to terms with her role in the cycle of violence, “What a f***ing mess I’ve made of everything.” Michael is quick to stop her pity party and tells her that she still has time to find a way out of the inevitable prison sentence. When she notes his sentence, he is quick to explain, “I wanted to be punished.”
On the chilly rooftop snuggled under blankets — it must be cold as later in the episode it looks like snow falls on Anna’s hair — the sexual heat spills over into a comforting kiss, which is interrupted by loud footsteps on the stairs. Lucky for them Jimmy (Emmett J. Scanlan) didn’t catch them in the act, as there is already enough going against the Kinsellas before dealing with this love triangle.
During the last few episodes, Jimmy has been the opposite of a supportive husband because Amanda went to Frank (Aidan Gillen) before talking to him. In a welcome move, he puts that bitterness to one side and acknowledges all she has done. It is completely unprompted — well, other than the fact she is facing serious prison time — and he tells her he appreciates and loves her. It is another case of Jimmy showing vulnerability and one thing Kin does well is eschewing two-dimensional portrayals of gangster figures.
Even Eric, who has previously been painted with a pretty simple brush goes beyond the rage that defines him. Yes, he is still full of anger and bravado but there is a big difference between the image he gives off when he is safe in a cell yelling through the wall and the man who is about to be thrown to the wolves.
The original plan to blame Fudge is looking pretty good right now, but unfortunately this could be off the table as an option. Everything Amanda said would happen has come to pass, and Nikki’s (Yasmin Seky) life is about to get lonelier. It is also clear that while Nikki is being offered a choice there is pressure for her to stand by her man. Birdy asks whether she has discussed having kids with Eric and this intrusive line of questioning probably makes her want to flee.
“If you want to be with Eric, this is part of the life,” Birdy reminds Nikki. When she gets 10 minutes to visit her incarcerated boyfriend, he essentially tells her that she needs to put everything on hold until he gets out of prison. He also claims that he would wait for her if their positions were reversed and she does not believe this for a second — and neither do I. Yes, she will be looked after by his family, but a decade of hanging out at Birdy’s is not how she pictured her world. Considering who her beau is, Nikki should’ve factored in this as a possibility, and she is both blinkered and quick to point out how his impulsive behavior has consequences. While the women of this show are more than foils or accessories, Nikki is still a mystery and there isn’t much time to find out more.
Another character I am still desperate to spend more time with is Birdy and we learn a few more things about the Kinsella matriarch this week. She offers to talk to Eamon because she is pretty confident she can call a truce with a man she has likely been romantic with. Unfortunately, Eamon is in no mood for niceties and the only thing he gives her is a welt on her face from the barrel of his gun.
There is a lot of over-playing hands this week, which leads to plenty of rude wake-up calls being dished out. For instance, while Frank is in charge of the family, he is told by his brother Bren Kinsella (Francis Magee) that he wishes he had given Birdy the reins. The only reason he didn’t is that it would’ve humiliated Frank to be passed over for his sister.
Bren’s introduction comes about because Frank is worried Eric won’t last long in prison without some form of protection — the bounty on their heads is still in play. Michael has zero interest in seeing his father and we are left wondering whether something happened while he was also locked up or if this is a deep-rooted feud. Meanwhile, Bren barely acknowledges his other son except to admonish him, and this brief interaction paints a vivid picture. Bren’s quips about Frank looking like a hairdresser are not so thinly veiled homophobic remarks, and when they do leave Frank lets out his anger on a poor unsuspecting visitor heading into the Castlewood Prison.
Violence begets violence, which Amanda and Michael are reminded of when both their children are threatened by Eamon's men. Eamon really wants his drugs back and for the Kinsellas to pay for every grievance they have caused with their disobedience. His enlightening ayahuasca experience hasn’t made him more benevolent, rather, the drug kingpin's impatience has cranked up a notch.
Despite being told she cannot see her father, Anna has defied her grandmother and the courts to visit Michael at home. However, she abruptly leaves when he mentions it might not be safe for them to see each other. This isn’t simply a case of adolescent anger, as she has been put through the emotional wringer and it is clear she has been relishing this chance to get to know her one remaining parent. Michael’s fears come to pass when a group of Eamon’s men (including Jamie’s killer) try to push her into the trunk of their car and their plan is foiled when a passing motorist intervenes.
Elsewhere, at Anthony’s boarding school they really need to check the accessibility as Con Doyle (Keith McErlean) enters without any trouble and threatens to set Anthony on fire if his mother doesn’t give Eamon his stash back.
Amanda hasn’t even tried to find out where the drugs were in the limited time frame Eamon gave her, and she has come to one very extreme conclusion after Anthony and Anna are directly brought into it. If they want to break free of this endless bloody battle then Eamon has to go and there is only one way to ensure this is permanent.
Director Tessa Hoffe captures the intensity of these choices (she has helmed the second half of this season) by cutting between Amanda and Michael’s emergency summit with Eamon languishing in a tiny swimming pool. He is the snake whose head they have to cut off in order to secure the safety of their children, and with one episode to go the tension has somehow been raised further. Whether it is Eamon or a Kinsella, the season finale is promising a showdown and it is unlikely that everyone will make it out alive.
Emma Fraser spends most of her time writing about TV, fashion, and costume design; Dana Scully is the reason she loves a pantsuit. Words can also be found at Vulture, Elle, Primetimer, Collider, Little White Lies, Observer, and Girls on Tops. Emma has a Master’s in Film and Television, started a (defunct) blog that mainly focused on Mad Men in 2010, and has been getting paid to write about TV since 2015. It goes back way further as she got her big start making observations in her diary about My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase (and her style) at 14.