The Hoodlum Homecoming
He may be the mayor of Baltimore, but he’ll fucken burst ye
Good staff can be hard to find, and it seems to apply to henchmen as much as any other kind. Love/Hate opens with middleweight goon Nidge looking up Internet videos on how to operate his new firearm, but his girlfriend bursts in demanding to be taken to Dundrum Shopping Centre. So it goes: as playwright Stuart Carolan tells it in this series, nothing seems to unfold cleanly.
Least happy with this arrangement is the homesick Darren (Robbie Sheehan), who returns to Dublin to celebrate his brother’s release from prison, only for said brother to be gunned down before he’s even had a few scoops or gotten a ride. Revenge is a complicated matter, with Darren at the whim of gangster overlord John-Boy (Aidan Gillen), who reacts to all situations by curling his lip ambiguously and refusing to let us know what he gets off on (although it is bound to be something bad as he is emphatically a knacker). Meanwhile Darren attempts to get back with his ex, Rosie (Ruth Negga), currently in thrall of a man named Stumpy, Nidge decides to get married, and ultra-scobe Hughie (Brian Gleeson) reaches for a cue-ball in a sock if you look at him the wrong way.
We see a lot of Dundrum Shopping Centre as it turns out, and futility and frustration gradually edge out the simple pleasures of evading the police with a truck full of drugs, or some species of female companionship termed ‘Praha Prozzies’. The gangsters in Love/Hate drive around in SUV’s listening to hip-hop, but they don’t derive any satisfaction from the fantasy of being in the Wu Tang Clan or, indeed, The Wire. Poignantly, it’s a despairing sort of violence that makes them wonder why they bother, if it wasn’t that some other fella started it.