“Press Gang” sees the war between Summerhouse and Zero Tolerance begin in earnest, to disfiguring results.
This recap of Top Boy Episode 6, “Press Gang” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Warning shots are fired in the opening sequence of “Press Gang”, as Summerhouse’s youth contingent are ambushed by Zero Tolerance goons in a spate of acid and knife attacks. As a young dealer is stabbed twice outside a block of flats, the camera pans out to take in the kids playing football on the balcony above, just to remind us how unsurprising attacks like this can be in certain malnourished parts of the country. For Dushane (Ashley Walters) and Sully (Kane Robinson), the message has been received loud and clear — and it can’t go unanswered.
But they have bigger problems. In Top Boy Season 1, Episode 6, Sugar’s next shipment contains more drugs than they can possibly move, especially since so many of the area’s youth are too scared of Jaime (Micheal Ward) to sell any product that isn’t his. In charge of recruiting new “talent”, so to speak, is Jaq (Jasmine Jobson), who very much encourages the comparisons between Top Boy and HBO’s The Wire, since she’s so reminiscent of Snoop. Her girlfriend apparently knows people who might be interested in purchasing the kind of product Jaq has for sale, but Jaq doesn’t want her involved. The way she talks about her work in “Press Gang” as though she’s gainfully employed and not, in fact, an exploitative criminal, is a bizarre example of how ordinary this kind of lifestyle can become to those who feel as though it’s their only option.
Jaq needs to step up even more now since Dushane takes Dris (Shone Romulus) aside and tells him that until he starts to fix himself up he needs to take a step back — exactly what is wrong with him remains unclear. He also isn’t happy about his demotion, retreating into weed and alcohol, but there’s more dissent in Jaime’s ranks. Leyton (Kola Bokinni), working under the advice of Modie — he’s the one Sully disfigured in prison — believes that Sully and Dushane need to be taken out immediately. But that wouldn’t be easy, and more to the point it’d bring too much attention to what Zero Tolerance is up to. Lizzie is already worried about the visibility of acid attacks, but Jaime assures her that getting the kids off the street so Dushane can’t move his product or pay his supplier is the smarter course of action.
Since Ats learns in “Press Gang” that he and his mum are being evicted, he and Jaq seem like a match made in heaven. She sets him up with a phone and begins teaching him the basics, though it’s pretty clear that his relationship with Stefan, Jamie’s younger brother, rather than his ability to move product, is why Summerhouse are interested in him.
Kane Robinson impresses in Top Boy Episode 6, as he attends Jason’s memorial service with fragility written all over his face. As he’s leaving, Leyton and Jermaine (Ashley Thomes) attempt to kill him, but he’s able to escape. Returning to Summerhouse, he delivers another emotional outburst in the direction of Dushane, who doesn’t seem particularly concerned about the assassination attempt. The same grievances as ever crop back up again: Dushane always talks about himself as an individual, not the pair of them as a partnership, and so Sully feels he has to respond himself. He takes Jaq with him to acquire an arsenal of firearms, returning with them to Dris’s flat where his poor daughter is just lounging around on her laptop. The team has been assembled and armed. Payback is coming.
First, though, another major development. “Press Gang” ends with Dushane video-calling Donovan, to find him held captive by one of Sugar’s goons. As punishment for attempting to hide, Donovan is shot and killed.