Culprits Season 1 Episode 4 Recap – Better the Devil you know

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: November 9, 2023 (Last updated: November 11, 2023)
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Culprits Season 1 Episode 4 Recap
Culprits Season 1 | Image via Hulu/Disney


A slightly less satisfying episode hurriedly introduces several new characters and suffers from the absence of Jules and the kids, but some decent swerves keep the back half of the season looking lively.

Maybe it’s just me, but I wasn’t as enamored with Episode 4 of Culprits as I have been with Season 1’s first three installments. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly why, but I have some ideas. For one thing, it introduces a few new characters in an especially hurried way, expecting us to care about them more than seems reasonable given how long we’ve known them. Something also seems to have been lost in the transition of the present-day setting from the U.S. back to London. The absence of Jules, Bud, and Frankie is strongly felt. “Circles in a Circle” tries to slot Officer in as the object of Joe’s affection and focus, but while the chemistry is there, the reaction isn’t quite the same.

There were still things to like, of course, including a couple of tense set-pieces and semi-surprising character swerves. But one has to hope that things get a little more on track as we head into the back half of the season.

Culprits Season 1 Episode 4 Recap

So, yes, Joe is back in London. His only connection to his family back in Washington State is the home surveillance he can still monitor on his phone, which is clearly going to be used for a dramatic set-piece at some point, but will have to wait for now. Besides, he has more pressing things to accomplish in the meantime, such as hooking up with Specialist and getting to the bottom of who’s killing off the gang one by one.

BEFORE — Two for the price of one

In the past, Dianne, with the blueprints that were stolen in Episode 2, is briefing the team on the specifics of the Wainwright vault. It’s built into the foundations of the building and is entirely analog and completely bomb-proof. There are only two people in the world who could hope to crack it, and one of them is dead.

The other is Malek Mizouni, who was trained by his father, Youssef, and did a shift for organized crime before doing a bigger stint in prison. Now reformed, Malek runs a company that creates and tests security systems, but Dianne reckons he can be tempted back to the other side. As it turns out, though, he can’t.

Malek has been let down by the safecracker life. His heart isn’t in it anymore, so he can’t justify sticking his neck on the line for one big score. He turns Dianne down, and as we know, she doesn’t take rejection especially well. To try and smooth things over and keep Malek safe, Youssef volunteers his own services for the job. Dianne, though, thinks he’s too old, and she’s probably right.

Luckily, Youssef has a trump card. He didn’t just teach Malek, but also his daughter, Azar.

The gang scoops Azar up, and Dianne tests her abilities by locking Youssef in a safe rapidly filling with water that she must unlock before he drowns. It’s a tense set piece, but the outcome feels inevitable and it’s difficult to care a great deal given we only met Youssef five minutes prior. Nevertheless, Cracker and Greaseman are welcomed to the team as a father-daughter pair.

We’re also introduced to another member of the gang, the fittingly nicknamed Fuse, who’s an explosives expert. The vault itself might be bomb-proof, but the gang’s escape and entry will require some holes.

NOW — “C” is for Colin

In the present day, Joe goes to meet Specialist and is surprised to find her in the company of Officer. It’s very obvious that nobody trusts each other, and for good reason. However, needs must, and at least for now, it seems they’re all in the same predicament.

Speaking of predicaments, Joe runs headlong into another. While meeting with the girls in the gallery, he happens to run into someone named Colin who seems to know him quite well. Now, if you cast your mind back to Episode 1, you’ll recall that the note left in the collected poems of Langston Hughes was signed “C” — for Colin! You can tell immediately that Colin is an ex of Joe’s, and that he isn’t over him in the least bit. This is the only time he shows up in the episode, but it’s difficult to tell just now whether he’s going to be a love rival for Jules — boo! — or just a general nuisance who gets himself into trouble and needs rescuing.

Anyway, after Colin has been shooed away, Officer reveals some details about the man who tried to kill her. When she mentions that he has differently colored eyes, Specialist looks very alarmed and promptly leaves when nobody is looking. She knows more than she’s letting on, clearly.

BEFORE — Bonding 

A good chunk of “Circles in a Circle” revolves around Joe’s relationship with Officer, in both timelines. In the past, we pick up after the heist, and after Officer has been treated by Doctor. She and Joe head back to base to discover that Brain and Fixer never turned up, and Cracker and Greaseman have cut and run. With Specialist, they decide just to flee with their share and make the best of it. It’s outside the confines of the plan, but the plan seems to be well out of the window at this point.

So, Joe and Officer end up alone. But she’s still quite badly hurt, so they have to stop off at a motel so he can essentially nurse her, causing him to miss his prepared flight out of the country in the meantime. When he reveals this, Officer allows him to use her “out”, and she remains behind to recuperate. It’s a nice gesture, but it’s difficult to put a finger on the tone of this dynamic thus far. I don’t think Officer knows Joe is gay, and their relationship has been a little flirtatious.

In the present day the two bond while trying to trace Azar through social media, and, again, the relationship is a little flirtatious. But it’s also undercut by what I considered to be blatantly shady behavior by Officer, whose story hasn’t really added up since she turned up in Norway in Episode 3, and as usual I was right.

How does Culprits Episode 4 end?

The big reveal at the end of “Circles in a Circle” is that Officer is in contact with Devil. When she and Joe stop off at a gas station, she pings him their location so he can follow.

One suspects that this isn’t a longstanding arrangement. The working theory is that rather than escaping from Devil in the previous episode, she was forced to help bring the gang back together with some kind of leverage, though what Devil might have on her remains, at this point, anyone’s guess. Perhaps she’s just trying to stay alive. Either way, though, she’s a turncoat, and it looks very much like Devil will catch up with Joe in the next episode.

On the subject of Devil, he also kills Malek in the present-day thread, believing him to have been the safe-cracker. Malek lies and claims he was, essentially sacrificing himself to protect his father and sister. Joe sees the news reported in a local paper while they’re at the gas station.

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