When Gangs of London dropped on Sky several years back, it became the biggest premiere seen on the channel in a long while. The visceral violence, intriguing characters and fast-paced storyline made it an easy recommend.
It’s always difficult to follow up a successful season like that with an equally urgent and enthralling follow-up, and in many ways Gangs of London does fall into the pitfall of thinking “more is more” when it comes to gore and squeamish violence. Unfortunately, it does so by sacrificing the core elements of a compelling storyline, with a narrative that falls apart with even the smallest bit of scrutiny.
Whilst watching in the moment though, the episodes are easy to digest and binge-through but when you take a step back and look at the bigger picture, cracks definitely begin to form.
The story here takes place a year after Sean Wallace’s death. Asif has taken control of the streets and brought in his new lapdog, Koba, to instill fear in the other gangs and keep them under control. However, a rebellious force is brewing in the background, intending to knock this new world order off its precarious perch.
In the middle of this is Elliot, who’s still working for Miss Kane but largely because his father has been kidnapped and he wants him back. He inevitably ends up entangled in this whole gang warfare once more, right around the time that Billy Wallace returns to London after an extended period of absence.
From here, the show throws a couple of lovely twists in the fold – one at the end of episode 2 and the other at the end of episode 6 – but largely struggles to actually produce a comprehensive and intelligible storyline. There are so many plot contrivances here that by the end you’ll have enough to match the size of The Shard in London!
The police are absolutely nowhere to be found either, while crime scenes have boatloads of evidence dotted around that could easily be led back to the gangs. Not only that, but late on there’s a scene where a character drags a dead body from the backseat of a car into the trunk inside a petrol station… with CCTV cameras operating everywhere. It’s these sort of careless and sloppy bits of worldbuilding that really take you out of the show, and it’s a shame because there’s definitely some good stuff here.
Koba in particular is a real highlight. He’s a great antagonist and completely unpredictable. He’s dangerous and ruthless, while returning players like Marian and Luan get a good deal to do this season.
However, the real draw is going to be the action. There are a plethora of action sequences dotted throughout the season, with episode 6 in particular trying to emulate that barn scene in season 1 with a comprehensive and drawn-out fight for a good 15/20 minutes. There’s also a particularly good home invasion shootout too, which will have you o the edge of your seat.
Although the action is good, the narrative leaves a lot to be desired. Unlike something akin to John Wick 3, which manages to stick with a simple narrative to put its action center-fold, Gangs of London Season 2 tries to have its cake and eat it too.
In a bid to attempt and intricate story, the narrative falls apart with a number of contrivances and jumps in logic. Don’t get me wrong, the season is still worth a watch and individually, the episodes are a decent popcorn-munching spectacle, but in terms of longevity, Gangs of London struggles to emulate the excellent first season.