Television

Kin Season 1 Episode 8 Review: Queenpin


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It was almost too easy.

On Kin Season 1 Episode 8, Amanda takes over as head of the Kinsella crime family and becomes one of Dublin’s most powerful — and dangerous — people.

But for Amanda to rise, others had to fall.

Amanda in church - tall - Kin Season 1 Episode 8

The power dynamic has shifted. Amanda is the one making the decisions now. Her evolution has been the most satisfying through-line of the season.

The scene between Amanda and Eamon is easily one of the best in the series. Two power players negotiate, neither one willing to compromise until they finally come to terms.

It’s thrilling to watch two incredible actors tackle a scene like this. Not only that, but it’s satisfying to see Eamon give Amanda her due, respect her game, and treat her as an equal.

I’m negotiating. You’re a businessman. You know how it works.

Amanda

Eamon should have known that when Amanda acquiesced to his demands, she was actually buying herself time. He underestimated her, and she outplayed him. He paid with his empire and his life.

Eamon - Kin Season 1 Episode 8

Frank does not like Amanda taking over. He’s still sore from his meeting with Bren, and then Amanda comes and compounds it by saying Eamon wants his son. Frank cannot keep it together when he needs to the most.

Let me know when he’s dead. I’ll send some fucking flowers.

Frank

Unfortunately, Bren was right — everything spiraled out of control under Frank’s watch.

Aidan Gillen has his finest hour here. Frank is wracked with shame at his powerlessness to assert authority over his family. His weaknesses have been exposed. There’s now the genuine fear he will lose his son.

Frank’s arc was gradual enough that his incompetence only became glaring when Dotser was shot and then descended from there.

Frank Unravels - Kin

The scenes between Frank and Birdy are beautifully done. It’s great to see actors who can convey decades of a character’s history through a simple touch and meaningful glances. 

Birdy was likely the peacemaker between her two brothers — brutish bully Bren and the younger, more tender Frank. Birdy reaches out to comfort him, and he turns into a little boy for a moment. He’s lost and doesn’t know what to do, but his big sister will look after him.

It makes sense that she’s the only one who can get through to him — and the only one who cares enough about him to clean up his mess in a meaningful way. Even when she expresses her frustration at his tantrums (which he’s had coming for a while), it’s only because she knows he’ll take what she says to heart.

Stop being so fucking pathetic! You’re the boss, then show it! Stop stamping your feet and shouting and do something!

Birdy

You have to wonder if she’s seen him overdose before. That was a lot of cocaine, but either he thought he could handle it, or he just didn’t care anymore.

Eric in Prison - Kin Season 1 Episode 8

Eric, meanwhile, is having a rough time dealing with the consequences of his actions. He lost any sympathy he garnered in Kin Season 1 Episode 7 when he decided to put out a hit on the eyewitness. He’s willing to end an innocent person’s life to avoid doing time. Eric is selfish and entitled — it’s hard to figure out what Nikki sees in him.

Speaking of Nikki, Yasmin Seky has been criminally underused. Her purpose is unclear. She barely did anything. Nikki didn’t even do the bare minimum of the “supportive woman” trope — facilitate the growth of her male companion, as Angela did for Eamon — because Eric doesn’t seem to have learned anything, except that he doesn’t like prison.

It’s just a shame her character development has fallen by the wayside. Peter McKenna obviously knows how to write fantastic female roles in that Amanda is a groundbreaking queenpin, and Clare Dunne has portrayed her magnificently.

It would be nice if the other women on the show could have as much dimension as Amanda. 

Nikki - Kin Season 1 Episode 8

The divide between Jimmy and Amanda has become a chasm.

Jimmy knows Amanda and Michael loved each other, but he’s not angry — just sad. His whole speech to Michael is a brutally honest example of male vulnerability that we rarely see in these kinds of shows, and Emmett J. Scanlan navigates it with grace and tenderness. He loves her, but he doesn’t know how to love her in the way she needs.

If Frank has been angry about Amanda’s rise, Jimmy has been resistant and finally sad and resigned. He knows he’s his wife’s second choice after his brother. The most heartbreaking part is that Jimmy has realized too late how truly masterful and ruthless she can be and that he’s become a mere pawn in her plans.

When he took Michael to the airport, Amanda didn’t say a word to Jimmy. She only expressed her concern for Michael. Jimmy was an afterthought. 

Michael remains enigmatic, but it’s clear he would follow Amanda to the ends of the earth. He respects her and was quicker to see her worth and her intellect, unlike Frank and Jimmy. He has nothing to say to Jimmy’s devastating guilt trip, except that he’s sorry. What else could a brother say to something like that?

Amanda & Jimmy - Kin Season 1 Episode 8

Kem’s part in all this was surprising — he’s lucky Amanda gave him the opportunity to redeem himself. Kem was smart enough to know he’d be dead in the water, so luckily, he chose the right side in the end.

Con’s death scene was tense and savage — remember, Jimmy has never actually killed someone before. His initial hesitation and vomiting afterward are par for the course.

So, the Kinsellas are now in possession of all of Eamon’s drugs, and there is no longer a bounty on any of the family since Eamon is dead and could never pay it. It’s almost surprising how easy it was for the Kinsellas to destroy Eamon and steal his empire.

Everything I am, everything I’ve built, all of it, is dependent on one thing — that people know I’m fucking ruthless.

Eamon

The Kinsellas are our protagonists, but everything terrible thing Eamon did to them was a response to what they did to him or his mean. Yes, he “started” the feud by asking for exclusivity and more money, but Eric drew first blood. To Eamon, the Kinsellas were the bad guys who kept killing his men and stealing his property. 

It just feels like the Kinsellas got off too lightly. The instigating incident was losing Jamie in the beginning, but after that, it was Dotser and Fudge, characters we didn’t have much emotional attachment to, even if the Kinsellas did. It would have been good to have seen more of how they planned it all out, but that would probably have taken away from the surprise. 

Amanda & Anthony - Kin Season 1 Episode 8

The editing, art direction, and cinematography, as always, are on point. Great editing is often overlooked if done well, so it should be noted that Dermot Diskin did some amazing work this episode, particularly with the murders-and-mass sequence.

The starkness of the wide shots of the city, parking lot, and landscape suggest a vast and meaningless world, with these humans being of little significance in the grand scheme of things. There are also some beautiful, warm shots of the church and particularly Amanda at the shrine of the Virgin Mary, another mother who lost a son. 

Does Amanda believe in atonement? As she recites her confession, is it meaningless, or is her vengeance for Jamie so all-consuming that she considers it to be just? If she asks for forgiveness, is she absolved or her sins? 

Overall, the lack of resolution is somewhat frustrating. There are so many questions left unanswered and plotlines dangling. Cliffhangers are fine, but there ought to be some sort of wrap-up to the narrative other than “we killed the kingpin whose drugs we stole.” 

The New Killer - Kin

What needs to be resolved or explored Kin Season 2?

  • Will Frank survive his excessive nosebleed?
  • How will Michael get back to Ireland, and will he be arrested for all those murders?
  • Will Birdy confront Amanda about her “choice” of Eric, regardless of how it played out?
  • WHO IS ERIC’S MOTHER? What is the story there, and why has she never been mentioned at all?
  • Will Eric’s hit on the eyewitness come to fruition? To that end, will Nikki get anything interesting to do? 
  • Will we ever see Anna again? Jenny? Angela?

How do you feel about how everything went down? Were you satisfied with the season finale? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Mary Littlejohn is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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