Bulletproof Episode 2 continues to impress with more action, comedy, and a surprising amount of emotion as Bishop and Pike embroil themselves in an armed robbery that is much more complicated than it first seems.
Blimey, you lot don’t like Bulletproof do you? I got into more shit for giving the premiere episode a positive review than I did for implying the director of A Serbian Film was a child molester, and I almost got sued for that. Well, buckle up, folks, because I thought Bulletproof Episode 2 was pretty great as well.
In fact, it was probably an improvement over last week’s opening hour, but I can’t really justify giving it a higher score, so perhaps I did go a bit over the top there. No matter. What’s important is that the show’s promise is, thus far, at least, being fulfilled, offering action, comedy and a surprising amount of quite touching character drama, as well as the usual working-class urban patter that Noel Clarke in particular has made a career out of.
Now that I think about it, the bulk of the complaints I received about Bulletproof were related to the script and its preponderance of “bruvs” and other such inner-city slang terms, the implication being that Londoners – particularly, it must be said, black Londoners – shouldn’t communicate like black Londoners do. Not on telly, anyway. It’s an odd criticism, but I suppose no odder than whining about the inaccurate use of BMW hazard lights and air bags, which was something else that drew attention in a show that is otherwise blasé about including at least two public shootouts right in the middle of England’s capital. I’m not sure Bulletproof is all that concerned about realism, but then again I’m not a policeman, so presumably I wouldn’t know.
Anyway, the plot in Bulletproof Episode 2 was denser and more convoluted, and hinted at a larger conspiracy to be unravelled in subsequent episodes. It concerned an international criminal and an armed robbery and a safe deposit box, but not necessarily in the order you’d imagine. The initial suspect turned out to be a somewhat unwilling participant and, by episode’s end, a victim himself, which means that there are bigger, badder threats to law and order than Bishop and Pike first thought, and they might well include the King of Pop.
As before, the particulars of the story were less important than the on-going relationship between Clarke’s Bishop and Ashley Walters’s Pike, who continue to be funny and likable. After last week’s last-minute revelation that Bishop’s girlfriend, Sophie (Emma Rigby), had been playing away with his colleague after all, we got a surprisingly poignant little scene in which Pike checked him out of the hotel he’d been quietly living in and put him up at his house, with his wife and kids. The kids – now sharing a bedroom – woke him up with breakfast and a homemade card, which will be familiar for anyone who has ever been chucked out by the missus and forced to shack up with a mate.
Meanwhile, the testy relationship between Bishop and Nel (Christina Chong) continues to develop, as does, albeit briefly, Pike’s relationship with his father (Clarke Peters), whose English accent leaves a bit to be desired. Bishop visited Jonesy (David Elliot) in hospital to confirm that he was at least going behind his back for the right reasons, which was a more mature development to that subplot than I was expecting (or than the show itself suggested.)
None of this is entirely fresh material, but it all comes together in a way that evokes something specific about ordinary English goings-on – friendships, romances, working relationships, kebabs – in a way that continues to be recognisable and relatable, even if it is dotted with frequent gunfights and international criminal intrigue. Bulletproof Episode 2 suggests more to come, including shenanigans that will no doubt test the ability of Bishop and Pike to stay within the law, but what the show has managed to do so far is successfully anglicise a distinctly American idea – even if the idea itself isn’t a new one.