This week on Shantaram, Lin is ready to flee except for one big thing: He wants revenge. The Apple TV+ limited series about a benevolent fugitive on the run from his past is coming to a bloody head as Lin tries to square accounts, Karla runs around town preparing the double-cross of a lifetime, the grim specter of death arrives in Bombay, and everyone else is caught in the middle.
Though this episode is well-played, it focuses on Shantaram’s least-interesting characters.
Shantaram recap: ‘Dig Two Graves’
Season 1, episode 10: In this week’s episode, entitled “Dig Two Graves,” Dale Roberts/Lindsay Ford (played by Charlie Hunnam) remembers the cloud under which he left Australia’s Pentridge prison. Everyone thought he confessed to detective Wally Nightingale (David Field), and tried to kill Dale in short order. It was only quick thinking — and some hastily conceived body armor — that kept him alive long enough to flee in the first place.
In the present, he’s once again feeling the squeeze in Bombay. Didier (Vincent Perez) has discovered that Maurizio (Luke Pasqualino) has sold out Lin to his old client Raheem (Justin Amankwah). If Lin wants to live long enough to skip town, he, Prabhu (Shubham Saraf) and Abdullah (Fayssal Bazzi) are going to have to sort that mess out. And they’d better hurry. Wally Nightingale just rolled into town.
Meanwhile, Karla (Antonia Desplat) has an idea about how to get her soul back. As she tells Lisa (Elektra Kilbey), she’s going to have Kavita (Sujaya Dasgupta) kill her story on Lin and give her inside details on the feud between Khader Khan (Alexander Siddig) and Walid Shah (Mel Odedra) — how they kidnapped Minister Pandey’s (Alvin Maharaj) sex worker girlfriend (Tharanya Tharan) and stashed her at Madame Zhou’s (Gabrielle Scharnitzky) brothel for collateral. She plans to burn down the whole system, then flee the country.
Lin wants Maurizio dead
Abdullah, Prabhu and Lin break into Raheem’s room and beat some sense into him. When Raheem hears that Abdullah works for Khan, he gives up the ghost, sells out Maurizio and promises to leave. Prabhu tries to tell Lin it’s not worth it to go get revenge on Maurizio, but Lin’s a man, after all, and he can’t fight his nature.
Unfortunately, Maurizio escapes before Lin can reach him. So Lin goes to Karla’s place, finds Lisa, and drags her with him to Didier for help finding Maurizio. He won’t listen to reason. He wants to kill Maurizio.
This, I have to say, is pretty thin characterization. We have to believe that Lin Ford, angel of the slums, is such a hit dog about this one issue of pride that he won’t listen when everyone in his life is telling him it’s a bad idea to kill a guy, the very thing he got sent away for in the first place.
It’s a shame, too, because otherwise, Hunnam is especially good in the wounded mode he’s in this whole episode. The little gesture he makes when he sees Lisa trying to flee her apartment is maybe the best thing he’s done all season on Shantaram. I’m really enjoying this performance.
The hunt’s on for Dale/Lin
Nightingale goes to Kavita for information on Lin Ford, but she’s just promised Karla she’ll help Lin escape from Bombay scot-free. So she lies to the detective in order to preserve her new story about Pandey, Shah and Khan. Karla goes to bail Sunita (Tharanya Tharan) out of Zhou’s brothel so she can corroborate Karla’s story, and comes across Maurizio trying to talk Zhou into helping him get back the money Modena (Elham Ehsas) stole from him to start a new life with Lisa.
Lin has Lisa get Maurizio to agree to a meet-up, so he can beat the hell out of him. In the process, Maurizio says that it was Karla who actually set up Lin. He confronts her, and she won’t deny the accusations, out of pride. She thus can’t say that she’s orchestrating Pandey and Khan’s downfalls on his behalf.
Good, I say. Let these two stubborn idiots lie to each other and ruin their lives out of misplaced self-esteem. It’s just so silly. What do a murdering fugitive and a drug-running, prostitute-kidnapping opportunist have to be so proud of?
Why is this so important to you?
This episode is all business, and so it finds the whole creative and on-camera team doing what they do best. There’s no hanging, there’s no getting to know anyone — it’s all double-crosses and slowly dawning realizations about double-crosses.
The only part of the formula that’s a little out of the ordinary is the sudden introduction of David Field’s detective Nightingale into the mix. Field is one of the great Australian character actors. The little bits of his character’s cruelty proved compelling up to this point, but not nearly enough of Field’s performance was allowed into Shantaram’s good-vibes, high-stakes games.
Now that Nightingale’s here, pissing people off and reveling in his own sniveling grotesquery, the show can feel properly menaced by his presence. I waited all season for this, and I’m very grateful for the charge of the grim Field brings to his part.
And we need him, too, because the interpersonal drama this week, the stuff happening around all the action sequences and interrogations, is all frightfully ordinary. It’s a little bit of a bummer that Shantaram should come down to Lin trying to navigate his last days in Bombay by getting revenge on Modena and Maurizio, with Karla and Lisa for company, while the much more interesting and (in some cases) sympathetic Prabhu, Didier, Abdullah and Raheem are shoved out of the way to make room.
Still, we’re in the endgame now. I’m anxious to see how Shantaram turns out (even though I know, because I’ve read the book).
Watch Shantaram on Apple TV+
New episodes of Shantaram arrive on Apple TV+ every Friday.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.