A better, more ambitious follow-up that would have been well served by another episode or two.
This review of Top Boy: Summerhouse Season 2 is spoiler-free. You can check out our thoughts on the first season by clicking these words. If you’re looking for the new, Drake-produced version of the show on Netflix, we have you covered.
In most of the ways that matter, Top Boy: Summerhouse Season 2 is a superior follow-up to an already-great first season. It continues to develop old characters in new and compelling ways, it complicates the power struggle over London’s underground, and it retains an even focus on both those vying for control and those who’re caught in the crossfire. The problem is that there’s not enough of it. Whereas the first season’s four episodes felt generously packed with just enough drama, Top Boy: Summerhouse Season 2 feels overstuffed with major and minor storylines that could have used at least an additional episode or two to breathe.
This is mostly a minor quibble; a case of everything being so good that you can’t help but want more of it. The show’s messy chaos can be overwhelming, but mostly feels intentional, as Top Boy: Summerhouse Season 2 deals with the new rivalry between Dushane (Ashley Walters) and an increasingly unhinged Sully (Kane Robinson), the legal fallout of Kamale’s execution in the first season, encroaching Albanians, Gem’s (Giacomo Mancini) indentured servitude to the psychotic Vincent (Benedict Wong), and even the estate’s on-going gentrification turfing struggling working folk out of their homes. There’s so much going on that it’s difficult to keep track of, for us and the characters involved.
The script keeps matters together admirably, everything and everyone defined by lines of loyalty and principle that hem these people into a life that doesn’t extend beyond the neighborhood they were born in. And that neighborhood has been convincingly bled of opportunity, still speaking in an authentic voice for people whose current circumstances are all they’ve ever known. We meet some characters in Top Boy: Summerhouse Season 2 who’re slightly apart from the rest, the odd police officer and solicitor, and their skewed perspective tends to only make matters worse, both for the Summerhouse residents they’re forced to deal with and, increasingly, themselves.
With some more room to breathe and more time for certain storylines to simmer, Top Boy: Summerhouse Season 2 would have felt like a perfect crime drama. As things stand, it’s simply a stylish and outstanding one that you can’t help but long for a little bit more of.