The Syndicate Series 2 Episode 5 (BBC) Review

Episode five of the The Syndicate’s second series is much like the preceding four – unambitious and frustrating. This week we finally focus on Alan, the alcoholic porter who, last we saw, had gotten himself a looker to hang off of his arm. Now, we learn a lot more about both of them, and you could probably write the ending before we even begin.

Sulim is a Thai bride from a web agency Alan discovered while searching for lavish trips to Thailand. We caught a glimpse of his lonely home life and broken family a couple of weeks ago while following Rose around and, when things between them don’t work out, he sees no other choice than to pay for the companionship he so craves. It’s a sad and frustrating episode to watch, as it’s quite often sad and frustrating to watch an alcoholic gradually relapse, but things are lifted by the apparent, and unexpected, sweetness between Alan and Sulim.

He flaunts his cash around like there’s no tomorrow, his spending not limited to buying himself a wife. He showers her with gifts, books rooms at the Ritz and attempts to buy his son’s affections back. What’s very strange about the episode is how much it focuses on alcoholism and its devastating effects on a life, but glosses over Alan’s son’s heroin addiction and, later, Sulim’s gender issues. Because – as you probably guessed – Alan’s bride-to-be isn’t quite what he expected.

A woman in every way but one, he rejects her outright and leaves her heartbroken. It’s actually a really sad scene, played perfectly, and I’m impressed that The Syndicate considered the realistic outcome to such a situation – Alan would never have been able to get past what he’d seen, no matter how much he wanted to take the easy option. When he gets home, broken and lonelier than ever, Alan breaks open another bottle of vodka and passes out in his weed-filled attic. He drops the joint he was smoking, and the place catches alight.

Rose and Alan’s sponsor eventually save him, and things look as if they might start repairing themselves. Someone in more trouble than they might have bargained for, however, is Mandy, who is finally caught out this week. Strangely, it’s revealed that Alan knew about her hostage situation all along, and I wonder how Becky’s discovery will reflect on him. I’ve made no secret of how much I hate this storyline but, sadly, it looks as if it will take centre stage in next week’s finale. Maybe reality will start to intrude on this ridiculous soap opera plot, but I really doubt it.

What did you think of the episode? Did you see the twist coming or were you as surprised as Alan? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.