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TV review: McMafia Episode 5

The focus shifted to Israel in the BBC's thriller this week. And Alex finally showed a bit of life.

    Semiyon Kleiman's in trouble...
    Semiyon Kleiman's in trouble... (Picture: BBC)

    Departing from its usual format, this week’s entertaining McMafia confined its locations to London and Israel — both Tel Aviv and Eilat. And heavens, Alex Godman was actually a functioning person, rather than a cardboard cut-out as in previous episodes.

    So what did we learn? We discovered that Semiyon Kleiman, Alex’s partner in crime, was trying to launch his casino business in Eilat, in pursuit of which he wanted Alex to transfer £5 million — but nevertheless warning him to be cautious because of the risk of offending Evil Vadim, the Godman family’s mortal enemy.

    Masha, friend to Alex’s sister Katya, has something to confess to Katya — with the best excuse ever. Yes, she is pregnant by Katya’s father, Dopey Dmitri, but “he was so depressed after your uncle Boris died that I wanted to help him.” Katya, who seems to specialise in tantrums (remember last week and champagne glass-smashing), is not thrilled.

    Another Russian in trouble is the doe-eyed Lyudmilla, once an innocent beauty therapist and now a leading light in Semiyon’s sex-trafficking operation in Israel. Semiyon, whom we now discover to be gay, nevertheless has an eye for beauty and shleps Lyudmilla along to a party given by his old friend from Moscow, Yariv Ableman.

    Ableman gives legendary parties which last into the small hours, but Lyudmilla, in the course of avoiding Deep Creeps at the party, stumbles on two gay guests enjoying themselves rather too much.

    And this, it turns out, becomes a crucial lever in dismantling a set-up case against Semiyon, who is arrested by Israeli police, accused of beating up and raping a young photographer, Ezra Levy. (A nice vignette here from McMafia’s creator, Misha Glenny, doing a BBC TV piece to camera about Semiyon’s arrest and what it means for Israeli politics).

    Of all people to exert pressure on Semiyon, Alex is the least likely candidate: but his desire to avenge his Uncle Boris is so strong that, despite Semiyon’s warnings, he decides to get in bed — metaphorically — with the dodgy Mexican crime lord, Antonio.

    Watch those metaphors, Alex. For while he is in Tel Aviv his dim fiancee, Rebecca, is whining and dining — yes, the “h” is intentional — with Antonio, in one scene apparently wearing her underwear for lunch. Let us conjecture, delicately, that getting into bed with Antonio may not be a metaphor for much longer.

    And all of this is without paying attention to the lovely Joseph, Semiyon’s bagman, or Alex’s chance encounter at Ben-Gurion Airport — in a very smart lounge obviously reserved only for the super-rich —with You Know Who. Oo-er. Menace with a sparkling water. Extra strong.

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