The Outlaws season 2 review – a mildly enjoyable comic caper

By Marc Miller
Published: August 5, 2022
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The second season of The Outlaws is a mildly enjoyable caper at its best when Stephen Merchant and Jessica Gunning are on screen.

This review of the Amazon original series The Outlaws season 2 does not contain spoilers.

Access the recaps, reviews, and news for The Outlaws.

The Outlaws is a flawed series that hits most viewers’ favorite cliches for caper shows but is accepted because of its talented cast. The other reason is the writing of Stephen Merchant, one of the showrunners. Here, we find the series returning for a second season as Rani (Rhianne Barreto), Ben (Gamba Cole), and Christian (Charles Babalola) are taken by The Dean (Claes Bang). Why, exactly? Because even though they made it through season one unscathed, Ben still has not paid back the hundreds of thousands of pounds he stole. If you remember, when Ben hid the money, three of his fellow community service workers took and spent it. Frank (Christopher Walken) paid off his daughter’s mortgage, John (Darren Boyd) put the money into his father’s failing company, and Myrna (Clare Perkins) donated the money to the foundation she started, the Bristol Justice Campaign.

Just as The Dean is about to kill Ben, Rani shouts she can make the money back in eight weeks. How do you ask? She tells him that she is brilliant and has a scholarship to Oxford. (One would think a drug kingpin may rely on street smarts and more experience in the drug trade or even references). They bring everyone together because they will kill everyone’s family if they do not pay the money. John has the business expertise, and Gregory (Merchant) has the legal know-all to launder the money. He also utilizes his access to Gabby’s (Eleanor Tomlinson), Myrna can use her charity as a beard, and Frank is the savvy criminal with experience in challenging situations.

Merchant and Elgin James created The Outlaws, both penning all 12 episodes. While Merchant (along with John Butler) directs most of the first season, Alicia McDonald helms the final four installments. This marks a noticeable shift in tone and is enjoyable. In the season’s fourth episode, the series finds its sweet spot. In a hilarious episode that finds Merchant’s Gregory on a “practice” date with Diane — the series’ funniest star, Jessica Gunning. The show is never more amusing when it settles on these two comedic actors. The writing here combines comedy and a high-stakes con game. As we know, there is a thin line between anxiety and hilarity.

My main issue with The Outlaws is there is very little thought put into the “thriller” aspect of the series. For a character who often sells the series as the most intelligent person in not only the room but Bristol, Rani often makes ill-advised decisions that border on dumb. One could argue that this is within character to ride a fine line. Usually for the thrill, but it goes well beyond that. For a show that asks viewers to believe plot points should work because of Rani’s intellect, this is used as a beard to forgo an explanation of deeper details on the operation. Everyone else produces a plan to save their growing empire. It is an obvious fault here that, by far, Rani and Ben are the series’ most uninteresting characters.

The Outlaws is best when it treats its large cast equally and when Merchant and Gunning are involved. For that reason, and when the series finally hits its stride for most of the mid-season, this Merchant and Elgin series is a mildly enjoyable comic caper with a deep bench.

What did you think of the Amazon original series The Outlaws season 2? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Amazon Prime. 

Amazon Prime Video, Streaming Service, TV Reviews
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