It seems like television in the last decade or so has decided to favor the downtrodden, quiet, unassuming characters looking for something more—those characters with a silent demeanor and an uncertainty raging inside, the darkness bubbling to the surface. Take for instance, Dexter or science teacher-turned-meth lord Walter White on Breaking Bad. These are people tired of getting kicked aside and pushed around, sick of the bullshit. BBC’s newest miniseries, Inside Men, features three such characters fed up with the way that life has treated them thus far who decide to do something about it.
The opening for the first episode of Inside Men is confusing and compelling. We are caught in the middle of a robbery of a counting house, essentially a place where money is sent to be counted. A group of masked men lead John Coniston into the counting house, where he is the boss. The masked men start taking the money, shoot a security guard and then leave John alone for just a second…in reach of a shotgun. As John stands up to presumably go after the criminals, the show announces that this is what happened in September and flashes to the previous January.
The show then introduces us to John, a man who is in power at the counting house, yet is too timid to use it. He tries his best to do what is right, yet he consistently comes out on the bottom because of it. We also meet Chris, the security guard who was shot. After having to escort a worker named Dita out after John catches her stealing some money, Chris and Dita start a relationship. Unfortunately his drunk mom gets in the way, and he needs to move out. Meanwhile Chris is friends with another worker at the counting house named Marcus, who transfers the money. After a business venture doesn’t work out, Marcus needs money fast and as a laugh, discusses with Chris how they could rob their job.
Marcus and Chris get away with it for a while, until John notices some discrepancies in the books and sees Chris making a large purchase. When John confronts Marcus and Chris, it’s not to fire them, but to find out how they did it and figure out why they wouldn’t do it on a larger scale. By the time the show flashes forward to September and we see John with the gun, there’s something different about him. There is a darkness in his eyes; he is not the man we have just seen through flashback. Inside Men does a great job of basically showing us the same scene twice, yet by giving us information throughout the flashbacks, gives us two different ways to view what is happening.
Inside Men is a four-episode miniseries, and already the show has covered one month in this job. We’ve seen character motivations, character changes and the beginnings of a large-scale heist. The next three episodes surely will become more entangled with the months leading up to this epic robbery. There is a quiet nature to the show though, as we truly get to know these characters, rather than just get to the meat of the robbery. Inside Men’s first episode is the prologue to the planning of an event that will change all three of these men’s lives and so far, it’s already quite a captivating story.