Sacred Games season 1, episode 2 recap: ‘Halahala’


Netflix series Sacred Games certainly has a memorable villain, Gaitonde.  His rise to infamy is part of what keeps us watching!

Day 24

In the first episode of Sacred Games, the mysterious, villainous Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) had murdered a woman. Now a big question emerges: Who is she? While some officers say the woman looks like an escort, Sartaj Singh believes the woman was someone Gaitonde knew. Unfortunately for Sartaj (Saif Ali Khan), he’s been replaced by another officer. Despite it being a suicide, Sartaj is officially suspended for the shooting of Gaitonde.

Another problem? Sartaj was specifically contacted by Gaitonde, so his presence on the case could hypothetically help it get solved. Despite being suspended, Sartaj returns to the crime scene later, presumably to investigate. While there he takes either money or evidence — suggesting he’s either good or corrupt.

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Gaitonde’s Spider Web

Gaitonde’s afterlife narration compares his story to a spider’s web. It indeed seems to ensnare us, in a puzzle of criminality. Being the cryptic sort, Gaitonde had said, “Everyone will die but Trivedi.” No one seems to know who — or what — Trivedi is. An actress named Zoya Mirza (Elnaaz Norouzi) seems connected to Gaitonde. In their previous phone conversation, Gaitonde also mentioned Dilbagh Singh — Sartaj’s father.

We do gain more insight into Gaitonde’s past. He regularly guarded the gold he had buried in the jungle and suspected his associate Mathu (Vikram Kochar) could steal it. However, guarding the gold had a pivotal moment for Gaitonde. At one point he saw a leopard. Staring fearlessly into its eyes made him feel like a “God.” It was, in essence, his spirit animal. In addition to feeling high and mighty, Gaitonde needs further ways to legitimize his aspirations for power. For example, his narrative says, “If the prime minister’s a crook, what would I get by being honest?”

Gaitonde’s Growing Roster of Partners / Bittersweet Revenge and Fiery Trash

As we flash back with Gaitonde, some apparent principles unfold. He understands that power comes in numbers. He needs to develop enough operations with enough people, and intelligently command situations. In addition to Matthu, Paritosh Shah (Muni Jha) joins Gaitonde’s burgeoning empire as a wealthy money launderer — said to worship money. Gaitonde says, “I knew how to take a religious man and turn him into my follower.”

Then there was Kanta Bai (Shalini Vatsa), who Gaitonde calls “gutsy.” He started a bootleg liquor business with her. Through her, he learned the ins and outs of the so-called “garbage mafia” — managed by a man named Momin (Dibyendu Bhattacharya), who would re-sell the trash and make lots of money.

However, Momin does not respect Gaitonde. In fact, very few do. So, to uproot and replace Momin, Gaitonde buys 10 plots of Momin’s land, then sets fire to the garbage heaps. It’s an oddly poignant scene for Sacred Games. Gaitonde sits on a couch to watch garbage transform into a glowing conflagration.

Gaitonde Doesn’t Just Get Jealous. He Gets Even!

Though Gaitonde’s story isn’t over yet, one knows it’s a vengeful, twisted tale. When he gets rejected from a nightclub, you know there may be hell to pay. In addition, he’s jealous of a man named Suleiman Isa (Saurabh Sachdev) who gets into the nightclub and seems to have everything Gaitonde could want.

As if further conditioning him for revenge, Mobin (semi-understandably) beats Gaitonde up for buying and destroying his land. Later, in the hospital, DCP Parulkar (Neeraj Kabi) tells the hospitalized Gaitonde that “bums” like him are “found dead on the street every day.” According to Gaitonde, though, Parulkar is in Momin’s pocket.

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One thing is very clear: You will know Gaitonde by his trail of dead. You may find them in burning trash heaps. As Gaitonde puts it: “Momin’s business…was reduced to ashes overnight, and his body was never found. The smoke hung thick over Bombay for five days. From Borivali to Byculla, everyone knew that Kailashpada had a new boss. Ganesh Gaitonde.”

What are your thoughts on this episode of Sacred Games? Let us know in the comments!