“The Squeeze” sees lifelong criminals beginning to wonder what else they could be as the war for London worsens.
This recap of Top Boy Season 1, Episode 7, “The Squeeze”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
With Sully (Kane Robinson) out for revenge, Jaime (Micheal Ward) needs to go into hiding. Before he leaves, though, he needs to lay down the law for Aaron (Hope Ikpoku Jnr) and Stefan: nobody comes in the house — including Aaron’s girlfriend, Abby — and nobody leaves the house unless it’s to go to school or uni. Even Jaime is starting to feel the squeeze — a fitting title for Top Boy Episode 7 — from rival gangs and traitorous elements within his own ranks, especially Leyton (Kola Bokinni), who in “The Squeeze” is caught conversing with further enemies of Zero Tolerance.
After Donovan’s cliffhanger death at the end of the previous episode, Dushane (Ashley Walters) is devasted to be told by his mother how ashamed of him she is; she knows it was, somehow, his fault, and so does he. But the exploitative management of Summerhouse has to continue, so Ats is sent by Jaq (Jasmine Jobson) to Manchester to deliver a rucksack in exchange for another; he’s not allowed to look inside either. But he is allowed to take a friend, and so he predictably takes a reluctant Stefan. Manchester is treated in Top Boy Season 1, Episode 7 as kind of maniac safari. The boys are intimidated and hassled but ultimately leave with what they came for, excited to receive the promised £500 as payment for the delivery.
Of course, the delivery never happens. Back in London, the back is pried from Stefan’s hands by a masked assailant, and when forced to explain themselves to Jaq, they’re sworn to terrified silence. Once they’re gone, it quickly becomes obvious that it was all a ruse. The pack they retrieved was full of literal paper. It was just a ploy to gain some leverage over Jaime’s younger brother, and thus Jaime. A smart play, and fitting for a career-criminal like Dushane, who hasn’t been presented at all favorably in this season.
Speaking of Jaime, he drops off the latest bag of profits for Lizzie in “The Squeeze”, and sleeps with her again almost entirely because he was about to leave without trying to. It’s clearly a control thing for her; for him, it’s something else. He evidently wants more, but a married Irish drug supplier probably isn’t where he’s going to find it. But what he will find is solid advice about how best to kneecap someone, either to maim them forever or just to send them a message. The latter strategy is what he decides to punish Leyton with, but since Sully has been spotted roaming the streets, he has to hand the task over to an acolyte.
And predictably the kneecapping goes horribly wrong. The bullet nicks one of Leyton’s arteries, and he begins to rapidly expire. At the same time, Jaime and his goons ambush Sully and shoot one of his companions dead. A cover story is invented to explain Leyton’s death: He was killed by Summerhouse as revenge for the attempted hit on Sully. It’s hardly bulletproof, but it’ll do for now.
As a final torment for Dushane, Sugar’s representative tells him that if he doesn’t come up with the money he owes, he’ll kill Shelley (Little Simz), her daughter, and Dushane’s brother and mother. Eventually, he’ll kill Dushane too, and it won’t be quick. After that thoroughly awful exchange, Dushane understandably becomes disillusioned with his lifestyle, asking Sully why they’re still, at their age, doing the same thing they always have been. Sully asks what else people like them could be. As “The Squeeze” ends, Dushane goes to see Shelley for something even a big-shot gangster needs from time to time: A cuddle.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.