Gangs of London Season 1, Episode 1 recap: Finn Wallace’s death changes everything

Colm Meaney as Finn Wallace in Gangs of London Season 1, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: AMC/SKY
Colm Meaney as Finn Wallace in Gangs of London Season 1, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: AMC/SKY /

Gangs of London Episode 1 wastes no time getting straight into the brutal violence as the opening scene shows Sean Wallace (Joe Cole) torturing a man for information. Sean ties the other guy to a rope and then dangles him off the side of a building before burning him alive. Immediately it becomes clear that this guy doesn’t mess around, and that’s not too surprising considering his father is the head of a criminal empire.

We jump back one week earlier. Darren Edwards (Aled ap Steffan), son of a Welsh traveler, is assigned to kill a supposed random low-life pedophile. He and his friend Ioan (Darren Evans) head into Albania to do just that, but while Darren is inside, Ioan sees Finn Wallace (Colm Meaney), father of Sean, arrive with his personal driver, Jack (Emmett J. Scanlan). Finn is the patriarch of the infamous Wallace family. Ioan realizes that Darren has been set up since he’s obviously been tricked into killing Finn.

Ioan tries to contact Darren, but it’s too late. Darren pulls the trigger and outside Ioan runs down Jack. As soon as Darren gets in the car, Ioan peels out of the parking lot while Finn lays dying in the hallway outside of his apartment, thus setting in motion the first season of Gangs of London.

Gangs of London Episode 1
Valene Kane as Jacqueline Robinson, Brian Vernel as Billy Wallace in Gangs of London Episode 1 – Photo Credit: AMC/SKY /

Gangs of London Episode 1 recap: The aftermath of Finn’s murder

We jump forward in time, to the aftermath of Finn’s murder and after the opening of the episode. The Wallace is family is grieving their loss, including Sean and Finn’s widow, Marian (Michelle Fairley).

Then we’re introduced to the Dumani family, including Alex Dumani (Paapa Essiedu), son of Finn’s long-time partner, Ed. Alex is one of Sean’s associates. Alex prepares for Finn’s funeral alongside his nephew Danny (Taye Matthew) and his single mother Shannon (Pippa Bennett-Warner). Once Danny leaves the room, Alex loads a gun and tucks it into his suit pocket. “Really, Alex?” Shannon isn’t pleased Alex is carrying but he points out that it’s necessary for now until they find out who killed Finn and why.

Alex visits Sean before the funeral as he blows off steam with his brother Billy Wallace. Sean isn’t keen on the idea of going to the funeral and pretending everything is okay, he especially doesn’t want to inadvertently shake hands with his dad’s killer. Alex points out that they can burn every kid in town (he was there that night), but it won’t solve anything. Sean might not be able to look the killer in the eye, but Alex can stomach it for now if it means keeping the peace and not starting an all-out war until they know what’s going on. Alex promises Sean that he and his father won’t fail Sean, or Finn, for that matter.

Gangs of London Episode 1
Joe Cole as Sean Wallace in Gangs of London Episode 1 – Photo Credit: AMC/SKY /

Gangs of London Episode 1 recap: Sean halts all business

Speaking of Alex and his father, Ed (Lucian Msamati), we pivot to a meeting with them at the head. They gather members of the other crime families, their partners. Ed promises to find out who killed Finn and Alex pipes in to ensure the trade docks will be reopened as soon as possible thanks to a transition plan they have in place. All the trade routes, illicit cargo and money laundering schemes they have their fingers in were stalled due to Finn’s death, so Ed and Alex want to ensure things get back on track. But Alex does leave them with an ominous message — whoever stood to profit from Finn’s death, the numbers will reveal them.

Sean shows up toward the tail end of the meeting after pausing to look at his father in his coffin. In farewell, Ed says they’ll be back to business as usual tomorrow, but Sean disagrees. “Everything stops.” He doesn’t want any business to continue until he finds out who killed Finn. Sean believes that if business goes on as normal then they’ll forget what happened. “If you want access to our business, then you’ll hunt down who killed my father.”

Alex stops a man named Nasir Afridi (Parth Thakerar) on his way out to inform him that none of this will affect their business dealings with his father, Asif, the kingpin of a Pakistani heroin ring.

Before heading to a local pub, Elliot Finch (Sope Dirisu), another Wallace associate stops by a sewer grate and pulls out a stack of bills. Then he goes to a nearby pub to give to a man named Jim (David Bradley). Jim tells him to take the money he “skimmed” for him, take some to buy a drink and then put the rest back.

At the actual funeral, Sean convinces his estranged sister, Jacqueline (Valene Kane), to sit with them during the ceremony. She’s not on good terms with her criminal family as made obvious by her icy interaction with Marian.

Outside of the church, Alex meets with a detective from the police force who gives him CCTV footage from the night Finn was killed.

Inside, Luan Dushaj (Orli Shuka) the leader of the Albanian mafia shows up, he’s pissed he didn’t get invited to the meeting that morning –– or to the church, for that matter. No one is thrilled that Luan is there because Finn died on Albanian territory, which makes Luan and his men the prime suspects for the moment. Luan insists that his men had nothing to do with Finn’s death. Sean comes out to confront them and makes it clear he’s not convinced that’s true but he lets them come in to pay their respects anyway.

Back at the pub, Elliot comes close to causing problems with some local guys who he accuses of killing Finn. Jim warns him to back off, they’re only here to keep the peace. Elliot relents, sort of, he throws a glass across the pub first before leaving.

At the funeral, Ed gives a touching tribute to Finn and their longstanding partnership. He talks about how Finn is the one who shielded Shannon and Alexander from the pain of watching their mother, his wife, Ayana, die. “They are my family and so I say to you Marian, Sean, Jackie, Billy, I dedicate my heart and soul to you.”

Gangs of London Episode 1
Sope Dirisu as Elliot Finch in Gangs of London Episode 1 – Photo Credit: AMC/SKY /

Gangs of London S1E1 recap: Elliot tries to get to Besimir before Sean’s guys

Upon leaving the pub, Elliot finds Alex with a group of men in an alleyway watching the CCTV footage. It shows Finn’s driver, Jack, in a black van with some other dudes. They want to find Jack, obviously, since he’s still alive and one of their most significant leads to find out who killed Finn. Even though Alex doesn’t know who Elliot is, “I work for Jim?” Who?” “It’s not important,” he requests Alex play the video again because he recognizes the van. It’s Besmir’s, one of Luan’s guys. He points out that Besmir is in the pub downing shots.

Alex gives his men explicit instructions to go with Elliot and find out who Besmir is –– but not to do anything else. Well, right away one of his men decides to disobey him. He’d rather go in and get Besmir, take him directly to Sean. Elliot says that’s not what Alex requested and gets knocked to the ground. “Either stay down or f*** off. I know what an Albanian looks like.”

Elliot is still recovering when the guys go inside and a significant ruckus breaks out between all the men as they all start fighting. Elliot does his best to get to Besmir (Florist Bajgora) before they can take him to Sean. And throughout this entire ultraviolent, stylish sequence, we learn that Elliot is NOT the guy you wanna mess with. He’s hardcore, singlehandedly t making out man after man whilst hardly breaking a sweat.

Elliot manages to catch up to Besmir and questions what happened that night. Besmir doesn’t have much of a choice, if he doesn’t talk to Elliot then Elliot will take him to Sean and he’ll end up like the guy we saw in the opening.

Besmir says they didn’t have anything to do with Finn’s death. They were picking up score that night when they got a call about shots being fired and something big going down. When they pulled up, they had no clue what they were going to find so they took the driver with them. Besmir assumed Jack would be his witness to tell Sean that the Albanians weren’t the ones who killed Finn, but when Jack finally woke up a few days later –– he didn’t say anything.

After realizing Jack is awake, Elliot demands Besmir take him to see him, just as the other guys pull up in a car, this time armed with guns.

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Gangs of London airs Sunday nights at 10:00 p.m. EST on AMC.