‘The Syndicate’ Season 3 Episode 2 review: Lenny Henry remains exemplary

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The second episode in this new season of Kay Mellor’s BBC One drama sees the staff of Hazelwood Manor coming to terms with their new found wealth, but it also brings to the surface a lot of new issues, as well as the continued disappearance of diabetic maid Amy (Daisy Head).

The Syndicate does some wonderful stuff this week in regards to the Amy plot. The reveal of Amy’s apron being found on the moors beyond the Manor adds a distinct note of intrigue while the subsequent police investigation shows Godfrey in a guilty light, dividing loyalties amongst the syndicate winners.

In a clever piece of misdirection, they showed a flash of Amy in last week’s post-episode preview, but we learn here that the scene in question was a flashback with Amy, meaning that the worst possible outcome may still have befallen her, heightening the drama.

The Syndicate S3 Dawn Stevenson (ELIZABETH BERRINGTON)

“My daughter Amy’s gone missing…she’s a diabetic and she needs insulin to keep her alive. I’m offering a reward to anyone who’s seen her or can tell me anything that can lead to her being found. Money’s no good to me without my daughter.”

Elizabeth Berrington continues to play Dawn with a fragility and genuine sense of worry. However, while we are being led to believe Godfrey was capable, the script subtlely highlights that Dawn’s partner Andy, (Kieran O’Brien) may have some involvement. Last week he had just returned from ‘the pub’ around the same time that Amy disappeared. This week, he lashes out blaming Godfrey for Amy’s disappearance.

But is that just to throw us off the scent?

The Syndicate S3 Godfrey (LENNY HENRY)

Alas, poor Godfrey. He is having a hard time of it. We learn here that some of his friends are genuinely convinced he could be responsible for Amy’s disappearance, as well as being manipulated by Amy to take modelling shots of her: a fact that later lands him in hot water with the police (led by the always excellent Polly Walker).

It has to be said though, that Lenny Henry is doing an exemplary job at portraying Godfrey’s Asperger’s, approaching the role with enough sensitivity, vulnerability and sadness to make the character feel rounded, but also injecting some offbeat humour into the darker elements of the script.

The Syndicate 3

However, that’s not all going on at Hazelwood Manor. Overly bubbly Syndicate rep Denise (Lorraine Bruce) has popped down to confirm the group’s win and to get them to go public with their win.

This brings up old issues for Sean (Richard Rankin) who is unhappy with the group’s open view to their newfound wealth. Preparing to leave Hazelwood for reasons that have yet to become clear, this causes a huge argument with fellow worker Sarah, who also discloses about her miscarriage.

“Julie, will you promise me you won’t let Hazelwood become a hotel or a golf course?” begs Lord Hazelwood. “I trust you…I know that you have my best interests at heart.”

The Syndicate S3 Lord Hazelwood (ANTHONY ANDREWS)

Melanie Hill and Anthony Andrews continue to display a lovely and genuine chemistry as manor chef Julie and Lord Hazelwood. A situation not entirely unnoticed on by his wife, Lady Hazelwood (Alice Krige) but she has her own problems, covering a deal she has made with her son to sell a valuable painting and replace it with a fake.

The discovery of which has led to real tension in the Manor, but also prompts Julie and Sarah to offer up a chunk of the £14 million lottery win to fund repairs on the stately home. (“We’ve decided that we want to put a percentage of our win into Hazelwood Manor. To keep it going, to keep it in your family.”)

By episode’s end we have learned a little more about each character but are still no further forward in knowing Amy’s fate. Given that the first episode focused so much on her character, this episode gave everyone else a chance to shine.

The Syndicate continues to win us over.


Aired at 9pm on Tuesday 9 June 2015 on BBC One.

> Buy Season 1 on DVD on Amazon.

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