REVIEW: Republic of Doyle - "Con, Steal, Love"
At first blush, I thought this week’s Republic of Doyle was headed down an all-too-familiar road. It looked like the show would employ its usual multitude of plotlines, which has led to overstuffed, incoherent episodes and lacklustre characters in the past.
I was pleasantly surprised when “Con, Steal, Love” managed to keep all of its parallel stories on an even footing. While it sometimes felt like the “main” case took the backseat to Malachy’s investigation or even Tinny and Des’ adventure, the episode did a good job of constantly pushing its characters towards next week’s finale. For the first time in a while, I’m curious to see what happens on next week’s Doyle.
In a smooth bit of storytelling, the episode carries over from last week’s “Live Wire”. We’re brought back to the case of Malachy’s murdered partner and the separate story of George Thomey (Graham Abbey), who’s strongarmed Kathleen into helping him recoup some old debts. At the same time, Jake investigates a missing violin alongside a familiar face from Season 2: con artist Annabelle Kent (Kathleen Monroe).
As much as I dislike Kathleen Doyle’s side-stories, I’m impressed by the thug played by Graham Abbey. I kind of expected him to flake out like the other Kathleen-related characters, but Abbey displayed some real menace in his scenes – I especially liked his weapon of choice, the telescopic baton. It was interesting how the writers brought Tinny and Des into this thread – hopefully, it will lead to a solid showdown in the finale.
I also liked how Allan Hawco approached Jake’s character in this episode. He opened up a bit to both Des and Annabelle, and it was refreshing to see him be slightly introspective for once. Often, we’re left to imagine this side of Jake when the episode ends (usually following a romantic rejection), so to have it play out on screen warmed things up nicely.
I’ll admit that I was intrigued by Annabelle when she appeared in the Season 2 premiere. Perhaps that’s just because Jake Doyle and I seem to have a similar taste in women (perish the thought!). But Annabelle provided some pleasant plot twists in her first appearance, and if there’s anything wrong with this episode, it’s that the writers overuse Annabelle’s charms.
Annabelle’s impossible to trust, and yet men keep falling for her. Eventually, we wonder when they’ll finally start thinking with their brains (as opposed to other parts of their anatomy). The story started to annoy me with what felt like a dozen different seductions by the lovely con artist. I wonder if Doyle can resist bringing the character back if the show gets renewed (with an average of 1 million viewers each week, it’s likely).
As I mentioned at the outset, “Con, Steal, Love” was jam-packed with narrative. You’ll notice that it was subdivided into at least four man-woman teams: Jake and Annabelle, Malachy and Sonja, Des and Tinny, George and Kathleen. It’s probably asking too much in such a full episode to want the stories to intersect, though the episode would have earned a high score for doing it.
As long as the writers can keep such parallel threads from skimping on details or falling into implausibility, I’m fine with all the side-stories that the show is wont to include. Just give me some structure and some honest scripting, and I’ll be along for the ride.
As for next week, I saw the cliffhanger (such as it was) coming from far away, though I didn’t mind it. I simply hope the show has the guts to follow the framing it established for itself. It’ll be tempting for the writers to sweep the story possibilities (like an imprisoned or fugitive Doyle) under the rug, and I want a good tense moment to close Season 3, other than Leslie’s latest excuse to deny Jake’s affections.
For its consistent pacing and controlled narrative, “Con, Steal, Love” gets three stars out of four.
What did you think of Episode 12 of Republic of Doyle Season 3? Like/Dislike? Would you care to see the Annabelle character return? How do you feel about the Malachy storyline that’s playing out? Are you excited for the finale? Post your reaction in the comments section. If you’ve missed any of my previous Doyle reviews, click through the links below to catch up: