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TV review: McMafia, Episode 4

Jenni Frazer sorts the evil from the deeply dodgy in the BBC's thriller series.

    Nice but dim Alex (James Norton) has a word with not-so-cuddly Semiyon (David Strathairn)
    Nice but dim Alex (James Norton) has a word with not-so-cuddly Semiyon (David Strathairn) (Picture: BBC)

    We are halfway through the BBC’s gripping thriller, McMafia, but I regret to report that the Russian Family Godman has got no better at being Jewish than in previous episodes. 

    Sadly, they don’t appear to know the difference between the toast “l’chaim” and wishing someone “long life”, but patriarch Dmitri, as always, shows the way by wishing the newly engaged Rebecca and Alex “long life” — though to his daughter Katya’s disgust the toast is being levelled in rubbishy cava rather than champagne. Katya goes to find the real thing and throws an unconvincing tantrum, where glass appears to be broken. 

    However, the Godmans, fortunately, were not front and centre of this week’s thriller, which depended not so much on an ability to grasp international finance as an understanding of what manipulation can be done at a distance by computer. 

    Evil Benny Chopra, (Atul Kale), is Even More Evil Vadim’s man in Mumbai, responsible for shifting large quantities of heroin from Pakistan to India and onward into Europe. But not-so-cuddly Israeli Semiyon Kleiman, (David Strathairn), is Evil Vadim’s enemy and has engaged nice-but-dim Alex Godman (James Norton and his cheekbones), to launder his money. 

    Last week Alex was approached by the deeply dodgy Mexican Antonio who wants a piece of Evil Vadim’s action. This week Semiyon warned Alex that getting cosy with Antonio was A Very Bad Idea. All Antonio had to offer, he said, “is an open grave in the Mexican desert with 50 headless corpses”. 

    Admittedly that wasn’t the best line in episode four; that honour went to Mrs Dmitri, who, having seen off his mistress last week, this week told her husband: “You have spat on my soul”. Gosh. 

    Meanwhile in Mumbai, Semiyon’s representative is doing his best to scupper Benny Chopra’s operation, with the help of an at first unwilling computer genius, who excitingly manages to break in to the Mumbai Port Authority internet via a quick snack chocolate machine.  

    Back in London, Rebecca, the world’s dimmest fiancee, now reckons Alex is behaving oddly, and confronts him. There follows five minutes of thuddingly dreadful dialogue on the lines of “Did you visit tax havens to launder some politician’s dirty money?” and Alex’s clunking reply, “Everything I have done, I have done for you’. Rebecca gives him a look which may mean she is not quite so daft after all. 

    And Evil Vadim, once he finds out his heroin shipment has been disrupted, is livid and determined to find out who is responsible. Putting the pressure on Kleiman’s man in Prague, Karel Benes, he soon finds out about Kleiman. “Was there anyone with Kleiman when he met Benes?” Oh, Alex, you are going to have a horrible week next week. 

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