The Syndicate Series 2 Episode 2 (BBC) Review

The second episode of The Syndicate brings us a powerful story of family and identity, and whether the two are mutually exclusive. We follow Tom, who is desperate to start a family with his wife Natalie while all the while searching for his deadbeat dad.

Before they received the news of their lottery win, Tom and Natalie had used up their three cycles of IVF covered by the NHS, and were now faced with a hefty £5,000 fee for each new attempt. What this series of The Syndicate has done really well is included lots of everyday, yet monumental, problems that audience members can identify with. Last week we saw the toll of domestic abuse and teenage motherhood, next week it seems we’ll be dealing with benefit fraud, but here we’re simply looking at one couple’s desperate attempt to start a family by any means necessary.

But the plot is driven forward most by Tom’s search for his father, whose disappearance when he was ten put him in a psychiatric ward and emotionally crippled his mother. It’s a commanding story that pays off with the understated disappointment Tom experiences when finally meeting his father, who it turns out had a ready-made family that were a little more appealing than his mistress and bastard son. He missed the culture that they couldn’t offer him and, quite simply, Tom got the short end of the stick by default.

And there’s no heartfelt resolution to be found, as what was true two decades ago was still true today. Not only this, but Tom and Natalie’s surrogate family of close friends weren’t best pleased with their drinking buddy’s lottery win, and the couple end up ostracised by those they thought would be there for them the most. Watching previously close confidants turn their back once the bitterness and jealousy sets in isn’t a new plot point for dramas like these, and the whole thing feels a little forced when compared with the rest of the episode’s relatively compelling drama.

And Tom might have gotten his happy ending, since Natalie reveals at the end of the episode that she may, in fact, be pregnant. It’s the ultimate irony since, now that they have the money for unlimited IVF treatments, they may not actually need them. It’s a sweet ending for an endearing pair of characters, but I bet this is the calm before the storm that other characters will inevitably bring about. The sudden disappearance of Mandy’s husband, for example, is starting to raise suspicion, and Becky’s apologetic boyfriend is almost certainly bad news after his outburst last week.

What did you think of the episode? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.