Top Boy Recap: Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: September 13, 2019 (Last updated: December 4, 2023)
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Top Boy (Netflix) Episode 3 recap: “Big Flame”


“Big Flame” provided a sobering reality of what personal ambition can mean for people around in another strong chapter.

This recap of Toy Boy Episode 3, “Big Flame”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.

Following on from Tilly being unfortunately caught in a crossfire during the previous episode, in “Big Flame” Jamie (Micheal Ward) is out for revenge. Top Boy Episode 3 basically opens with a chaotic brawl in which Jamie and his antagonists swing bats and knives at each other in the street; when one of the instigators is stabbed and taken to the local hospital, the brawl continues there, too. The whole thing is shot for maximum confusion and senselessness and thoroughly works on those terms.

Now free, Sully (Kane Robinson) learns that his young protégé Jason (Ricky Smarts) is using drugs. Dushane (Ashley Walters) approaches Sully candidly, clearly in the interest of winning Sully over so that he can use his hidden money as a deposit for Sugar’s first product import. It’s a great scene in which Dushane confesses that, in his mid-30s, he has achieved virtually nothing in his life, but Sully sees through it, declining to take the deal. In a subsequent scene, though, it becomes clear that Sully maintains similar thoughts about himself; he watches his daughter through the bars of the playground but doesn’t consider himself fit to see her. The same theme crops up with Sully later in “Big Flame”, when he laments never having seen the ocean or left the country.

That latter scene in Top Boy Episode 3 occurs when Sully and Jason hook up with an older, much more strung-out Gem (Giacomo Mancini) in the dilapidated seaside town of Ramsgate, where an arrangement is made with an immigrant hiding in a squat that is constantly vandalized by racist locals. Sully’s relationship with Jason, an intriguing thread in the second season that didn’t have room to be fleshed out, is receiving plenty of attention here. A bizarre scene in which Jason reveals how his mother died is played for dark laughs, but the revelation of what he wants most in the world is played for tragedy: It’s just to watch Arsenal play live.

The episode’s title, “Big Flame”, is taken from a money-making scheme Stefan and Ats come up with in order to help Ats’ mum out with the rent now that she can’t work anymore. Their plan is to skip school and sell burgers, which Aaron (Hope Ikpoku Jnr) helps them with after catching them at home cooking. The idea of calling them Big Flame Burgers is his; they prove enough of a success that Ats get to touchingly hand over £15 to his mum.

Having been rejected by Sully, Dushane is forced to entertain other ideas of how to raise the ten grand he needs for Sugar, including potentially robbing his mum. However, Shelley (Little Simz) catches him rifling through her savings, leading to a moment of profound embarrassment for him when he’s confronted about it. His other option isn’t much better. Tipped off by Jaq (Jasmine Jobson) and who I think might be her sister about the house of a holidaying wealthy woman, he goes with Dris (Shone Romulus) to rob it. The plan goes wrong, and he returns to the car to find Dris completely out of it.

Throughout Top Boy Episode 3, Jamie receives calls from Tilly’s mobile, though nobody speaks when he answers. Visiting her at the hospital, he meets her father, and is told she has brain damage. This, he’s told, is the consequence of him and his friends wanting to make easy money. He returns home utterly dejected, glimpsing his brothers playing video games and imagining, I assume, how they could just as easily become victims of his ambition.

Netflix, TV Recaps
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