The second episode of the new Hustle series shifts focus onto Emma (Kelly Adams) and the return of an old flame who needs her help.
There’s always a danger that when an ensemble show such as this concentrates on one character that things can quickly become dull and sadly this episode falls into that trap. The dialogue between Emma and Joe (guest star Joe Armstrong) is uncomfortably stilted and doesn’t really improve as the episode progresses.
Joe tells Emma, in a speech full of clichés, about his money problems after taking a loan from Dosh4U following his wife’s death – he and his son are now set to lose their home. Emma takes this in, whilst batting puppy dog eyes in Joe’s direction, before convincing the team to give the company owner a taste of her own medicine.
Despite a great turn from Angela Griffin as the nasty CEO, Georgina Althrop, the best moments of the episode come from the scenes between Albert (Robert Vaughn) and Eddie (Rob Jarvis). As the rest of the team travel up to Birmingham to con Georgina, Albert remains behind to act as a ‘base’, spending the majority of the time in the bar with only Eddie for company. The pair’s scenes, although short, feel very real and as such are funnier than the more obvious humour within the episode. Eddie, in particular, shines: although he’s often made the butt of everyone’s jokes, the character is full of warmth and is far more endearing than any of the leads.
Meanwhile, the relationship between Emma and Mickey (Adrian Lester) is much more convincing and realistic than her dalliance with Joe, and the viewer does breathe a sigh of relief when Emma realises that Joe isn’t the idyllic human that she’s imagined him to be.
Despite the corny writing and Emma/Joe sub-plot, the chemistry between the con-artists is still the best thing about Hustle and holds the show together. There’s an undeniably satisfaction when Georgina realises what an idiot she’s been, but, like last week, it constantly feels like some crucial element is missing to keep the viewer as fully engaged. Our biggest wish for the next episode: more Eddie!
Airs at 9pm on Friday 14th January 2011 on BBC One.