“Birthday” makes for a funny if functional introduction as a hit clashes with some celebration plans for Fran and Jamie.
This recap of Hitmen season 1, episode 1, “Birthday”, contains spoilers.
Hitmen episode 1 wastes no time in establishing its so-called “heroes”, Fran and Jamie, as idiots since they accidentally drop Jason Maza from a balcony to his death. Now, his death might have been the objective in the first place, but there are cleaner ways of achieving it.
“Birthday” is designed to introduce these two bumbling middle-aged contract killers, and give a sense of their relationships to each other and other people, such as the gay man Fran has married to sort him a visa. The episode is titled as such because it’s Fran’s birthday, but nobody is coming except Jamie, who would have probably been around hers on a Friday anyway. A recurring gag in this opening episode is Fran calling people up to invite them to her birthday meal and them all saying no.
Anyway, Fran and Jamie work for the seldom-seen Mr. K, and in the back of their rundown blue and yellow Transit is a lawyer who wore a wire to a meeting with him. They’re waiting for a call from Mr. K to determine if this bloke (who we later learn is played by Jason Watkins) needs to be killed or not.
The Lawyer, which is how Watkins is credited, is later made to a wear a party hat over the sack covering his face since Fran and Jamie have decided to celebrate Fran’s birthday in the van. They hit up a McDonald’s drive-thru, and Jamie hires a man dressed as a spider (Nick Mohammed) from an agency that she thought was sending a stripper. The Human Spider thinks the Lawyer is from the agency since there’s apparently a guy who wears a bag on his head who makes more money than he does.
One of the funniest sequences in Hitmen episode 1 is the Human Spider performing a dance routine. The Lawyer tries to tip him off about his current predicament, but the penny doesn’t drop until he sees blood in the van, at which point he flees and Fran is forced to shoot him. Later, when Jamie is dumping his body in the canal, we meet Liz and Charles, fellow contract killers for Mr. K who’re Fran and Jamie’s sworn rivals. Fran is smitten with Liz, who laughingly rejects Jamie’s invitation to Fran’s birthday meal.
The most tragic joke comes at the end of Hitmen season 1, episode 1, as the Lawyer, after playing parlor games with the girls, gives a nice speech about how everyone has to do things that they’re not proud of. Fran gets a call from Mr. K and morosely holds her gun to the Lawyer’s head, but she laughs it off as a birthday prank and tells him he’s free to go as he messily vomits everywhere. They all laugh, and the Lawyer even agrees to attend Fran’s meal, where he reads a message from Mr. K asking Fran to confirm he’s dead. Just as he figures out that he was never free to go, and Fran kept him alive just to have someone attend her birthday dinner, a scuffle occurs and Jamie shoots him from behind. Happy birthday.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.