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A Winning Return For Bristolian Misfits — ‘The Outlaws’ S2 review (TV review)

3 min read

earned a rapturous reception when its first series aired in October 2021. The return of the Bristol set series sees a group of mismatched offenders doing community service, with freshly upped stakes and a consistent sense of danger for our crew of likable convicts. This series sees a larger role for Dracula and Northman star as the villainous Dean, a London based drug dealer who's after the money the group found themselves in possession of in the first series.

While the absurdity of the show's premise might bring other series down, here it feels part of the appeal and integral to the shows winning formula. The more absurd the storyline, the more the show seems to thrive, with this series seeing the group frequently at odds not just with each other but the law as well. Merchant seems to sustain brilliance just when the group seem to have had the rug pulled from under them, be it by lawyer Greg's scheming colleague or Myrna's activist friends.

The broad nature of the groups' backgrounds makes the show feel fresh, putting a fun spin on tried and tested tropes and constantly brimming with warmth and heart. It always helps when an ensemble show has leads as good as here, and while Walken is of course the standout name, the cast across the board are impeccable. The series takes the sensible decision of often isolating groups of its main cast, while continuing threads established in the first series.  There is further development between Darren Boyd's John Halloran and Clare Perkins' Myrna, two in truth very mismatched characters but who have bonded through shared experiences and help each other become better people.

The ‘will they won't they' relationship between Rhianne Barreto's Rani and Gamba Cole's Ben is central to the storyline of the series, and the development of the two a joy to watch and not always going in the direction the audience will expect. Much as the more starry leads will earn the plaudits, these two young actors more than hold their own and shine in every scene together. 's Lady Gabby remains a scene stealer as the entitled drug fuelled heiress struggling to keep herself together.

 

With onboard, this is a sharply written series full of the quotable dialogue and one liners audiences would expect. Merchant has made the clearly mismatched characters a wonderful fit for one another and an incredibly likable group of individuals even with their glaring flaws. While the series is a comedy, it's not short of drama, and produces some moments of genuine suspense rather than feeling gimmicky. By doing so, the laughs land harder and The Outlaws holds a more profound edge.

The city of Bristol itself deserves a shoutout, as it was an inspired decision to film and set the series in Merchant's home city. So often shows are set in London or Manchester, and it is incredibly refreshing to see a large series of this nature break into the South West with clear reverence for its location. The show makes use of some more iconic landmarks in the city like the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the city's suburbs.

The second series of The Outlaws builds impeccably on the winning formula established in its first series, giving some of the supporting players heftier roles and justifying continuing what could have been a one series storyline. The cast are magnetic delivering under even the most preposterous storylines and managing to keep the audience engaged. Stephen Merchant continues to prove himself as one of the UK's most naturally gifted comedy writers and storytellers, whether or not our renegade crew return for a third outing, one thing is for sure — anything Merchant touches is a must watch.