He robbed his own cash-counting facility because he hated himself so much?
Inside Men, the four-part BBC1 drama about three insiders involved in a heist of the cash-counting facility where they work, has now concluded. All in all, it was quite a good drama. Good acting, but not as clever or gripping as it had the potential to be. I actually expected more twists and turns in the last episode, but there weren’t many forthcoming. We always knew the heist does take place, but what happens afterwards and what happened in the final month leading up to the September heist? In fact, it’s the aftermath that is more interesting but perhaps we don’t go far enough into the future to explore the story fully.
It starts towards the end – in October. Marcus (Warren Brown) and Chris (Ashley Walters) come to meet their boss John (Steven Mackintosh) at an abandoned warehouse where their 50% of the boxed up money has been left. But Chris is pissed off. Why was he shot? And what is he going to tell the police, who he had been grassing up to before the event even happened?
Much of the programme is done with the voice-over of Steven Mackintosh/John. I wondered if it would be revealed that this narration was John explaining everything to the police, but it’s just him explaining himself to the world. And there’s a lot of exposition by John in this episode who is really the central figure throughout. What drove the meek, mild-mannered boss to co-ordinate a violent heist over the cash-counting factory and a mock hold-up of his wife and daughter? The answer given by the show is that he basically hated himself, i.e. the meek version of himself, and wanted to show everyone that he was stronger, clever and more ruthless than they thought. There’s a bit, just before the heist, where his wife tells him that she likes the assertive person he’s become over the last few months (she thinks it’s because of fatherhood over their adopted/foster daughter, but actually it’s his masterminding of the robbery). She then goes on to tell him that she hated the milder version he used to be and would rather spend one night with the new John rather than a lifetime of the old John. Later on, John tells Chris that he also hates the person he used to be and never wants to be him again. There’s a lot of loathing and self-loathing going on in the episode.
So to proceed chronologically. In August, the plans are escalating. Marcus is meant to be the one who holds up John’s wife and kid, but the Asian outside men realise that they need him on the inside with them. So John suggests that Gina, Marcus’s partner (later wife), hold up his family and get an equal share as a result. They make a plan for 5 September, the first day of school. Gina will hold up the family in their home; Chris will be doing the night shift, and John will be “kidnapped” from the parking lot in town. But John’s wife and daughter aren’t at home that evening because they’ve gone out for dinner to celebrate the first day at school and so the whole thing is called off. However, without knowing that the heist would be cancelled, Chris leaves work pretending to be sick so he doesn’t have to be involved. It’s then decided, without Chris, that the heist will be re-arranged but without telling Chris, as he doesn’t need to know – he just needs to be surprised and give the security codes – and John doesn’t need to know either so he can act properly surprised.
There are some sub-plots with a new woman who comes to work in their Bristol facility, who is a rival to John, who is having an affair with the top boss; and a monologue by John to his daughter (while reading The Gruffalo) on how lying is often necessary. The heist takes place; Chris doesn’t know the new code and is shot in the knee; John nearly kills Chris until Marcus stops him, and everyone gets away. Back to October. Chris has locked John up while he admits to Marcus that he already told the police about the robbery. But he didn’t tell the police about Marcus’ involvement. The police, by now, have caught the Asian dudes and are hunting John. Marcus (and Gina) can’t lie about their involvement but Chris suggests they say they were coerced into it. But this means leaving the money.
The show ends rather open-ended then. Marcus goes to Gina and tells her they need to give themselves up, but not before taking 2 days off to sort out their story, and not without a box of cash. Chris goes back to his new-born child. And John goes back to the cash storage warehouse where he used to be boss with a caravan of cash – to wink and smirk at his female rival and to give himself up – but presumably making some kind of point that he was able to mastermind such a massive heist and yet, as he tells Chris, it’s not about the money, it’s about proving that he is able.