Prisoners’ Wives Series 2 Episode 4 (BBC) Review

There might have only been four episodes in this second series of Prisoners’ Wives but, boy, did they pack those four hours with some really great stuff. The show might be consistent in delivering entertaining, gritty drama, but this finale was thrilling and brilliant by anyone’s standards.

As has been the case across the entire run, Francesca’s story dominated the story this week. As soon as we saw the drastic action Paul was willing to take in episode one, there had to be some sort of retribution in store for him and his family. That arrived here, as little Lauren was taken by the rival gang and held to ransom. With Matt coming to her rescue later on, however, he realises that they wouldn’t be satisfied by money alone – it turns out that they quite liked their old boss and are irked that someone shot him.

With so much action going on with Francesca and Matt, the rest of the plot threads kind of faded into the background. Kim and Mitch’s story came off the worst, with Jaden’s retractment coming into play within the first few minutes of the episode and leaving little to resolve. That leaves us with their marriage problems and the trouble Mitch has readjusting to a world he sees differently – all very nice – but a little bit tame and off topic for a series that chooses to focus on the experiences of criminals and their spouses.

Then there’s Gavin and Harriett, which turns out to be one of the most emotionally powerful parts of the episode despite the lack of time offered to it. Spurred on by the rejection of the Chaplin, Harriett decides that enough really is enough and abandons Gavin for good. After watching him use and abuse his mother for so long, this is a hugely satisfying character moment for the audience to witness. If there’s a third series, will we see these two return and repair their fractured relationship? I kind of hope not, since it seems the short, sharp shock of separation could be good for both of them.

Meanwhile, Matt and Aisling finally figured out their relationship after Matt promised to quit his drug-dealing side business. With her previously threatening to move to London and escape from her world of prison visits and police, I doubt she had the fallout from a turf war on her list of things to do that week. But it doesn’t matter what she wants because, if we’ve learnt anything, once you’ve entered that world then you’re more than likely stuck there forever.

The moment in which she passes Francesca in the hall was an incredible bit of visual poetry, with the veteran passing the torch to a brand new victim of a life lived waiting. What did you think of the second series of Prisoners’ Wives? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.