You do not want to mess with Eamon Cunningham, the crime lord in Kin who will stop at nothing to be top dog in Dublin’s drugs trade. The always reliable Ciarán Hinds has given us a character for the ages, a truly menacing and intimidating man. It’s there in his physical size, in his grimacing grin, in his slightly sneering dark eyes - and that’s when he’s in a good mood.
But in episode three of Kin, the Kinsellas have crossed Cunningham in killing one of his henchmen to avenge the death of Jamie, and he’s about to get very, very angry. When he calls the family patriarch (Aidan Gillen) and growls, “You have no fuckin’ idea what you’ve started. You’re all fuckin’ dead”, you tend to believe him.
RTÉ’s flagship series has taken its sweet time in building characterisation and story, and the slow pacing of the second episode left me feeling the series could go either way.
But Sunday night’s episode was a powerhouse of storytelling, full of grief and fury, showing us the brutal consequences of earlier actions - and in Cunningham’s response, a chilling and swift sense of what's to come.
That it manages to bring some real emotional heft to the tried-and-tested gangland story could yet emerge as Kin’s greatest victory. Writer and creator Peter McKenna, and director Diarmuid Goggins, have commanded audiences to invest in these families, and shredded many gangland tropes in the process.
For these are not cardboard cutout gangsters. The show’s most gripping scene - the build-up and immediate aftermath of a hit on Jamie’s suspected killer, in the middle of a busy pub - is told from the perspective of the hitman in a manner we don’t usually see on screen.
As the shooter, Michael, Charlie Cox has not only nailed the Dublin accent and movement, but the British actor's entire performance is spot on.
His character's breath quickens on entering the pub, and he panics on realising the emergency door is locked. His sheer stress - aided by David Holmes' edgy score - is palpable.
Not surprisingly, turf wars are not good for your health, and Michael has developed possible epilepsy. “Try to avoid stressful situations,” his doctor tells him. Eamon Cunningham is poised to ensure that’s not an option.