Run Series 1 Episode 2 (Channel 4) Review

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The second of this week’s grueling dramas set in the underside of London, Run, this is Ying’s story. Introduced to us in the previous hour as she took stolen phones from Carole, we discover that her ‘work’ is selling dodgy goods on the street to pay her debt to a local Chinese gangster. Her situation is pretty dire, but begins to look up slightly when she’s taken in by a friendly local businessman.

The episode could be labelled ‘not all men are that bad’, as we begin the episode with a classically horrific picture of young girls ‘paying’ their debts to an older, male overlord – often with sex. When Ying doesn’t make enough money following Carole’s no-show at the laundrette, her excuses don’t wash and Gao takes what he’s ‘owed’. It’s a harsh reality, much harsher than that of Carole and her boys, but it’s also a slightly more hopeful episode once guardian angel Jamal steps into the picture.

Their relationship is sweet and innocent, with Ying practically forcing him to let her stay in his shop in exchange for cleaning jobs, but she soon graduates to his flat. While there, he reveals that his son lives far away in Nottingham and you get the sense that he’s enjoying Ying’s company as much as she needs his. In a series that plans to show the grim realities of certain walks of life, it’s a surprise that Ying actually finds this sort of kindness enter her life, and she’s equally flabbergasted.

But, as is most often the way with cases like these, her presence in Jamal’s life puts him in danger and she returns to her old life rather than run away to Nottingham for a new one. It’s tragic for them both, as the planned move would most likely has allowed Jamal to reconnect with his son and give Ying a way out of her tragic existence, but that would have been too easy. There was too much at stake, in the end, but her glance out of the frosted window suggests that, now that Ying knows there is a way out and people willing to help, things might get a little bit better.

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

Run airs on Channel 4 in the UK.