Two years ago, in 2021, Philip Barantani turned his short film Boiling Point into an intense and gripping single-take film that peeped into a fatal evening for a luxurious London restaurant. As great as the film was, the BBC’s decision to now launch a four-part series of Boiling Point in 2023 did surprise and even worry me a bit. With the extension of the same characters and the continuation of the same plot, a generally conventional style of overdramatization could have ruined it all. But neither the creators nor the actors have let us down in any way whatsoever, making the Boiling Point series as great, if not better, simply because of the depth of the characters, as the film was. The BBC’s Boiling Point is an absolute must-watch if you’ve watched the 2021 film or have any interest in restaurant-kitchen drama!
Plot Summary: What is the series about?
The BBC drama series begins around six months after the incidents of Boiling Point (2021), in which the talented head chef and co-owner at a fine-dining restaurant named Jones & Sons, Andy Jones, had been the focus. Struggling with his recent divorce and forceful separation from his young son, Andy had been spiraling out of control with heavy alcohol and drug addictions. It all came crumbling down for Andy on a busy Christmas week night when a customer suffered an allergic reaction because of the food served, and a professional rival visited only to demean him. To make matters worse, absolute chaos in the kitchen led to a fallout between the chefs, and Andy suffered a cocaine-induced cardiac arrest. The partner chef at Jones & Sons, Carly, had resigned from the job right before Andy’s final fall. It is now Carly at the center of the Boiling Point series, as the woman has started her new fine-dining restaurant, Point North.
Since Andy’s ailment also meant the closure of the Jones & Sons restaurant, most of the kitchen staff and even front-of-house staff members have now joined Carly at the new business. Just like earlier, there is a real bond and camaraderie between all these staff members, even though an undercurrent of discomfort and misunderstanding does exist in the kitchen. A new chef de partie is hired at Point North, but the man, Johnny, is evidently not very experienced with sophisticated culinary practices and recipes. On this very night, the restaurant co-owner Liam also brings in a group of his investor friends, hoping for them to put money into the business. However, the men are not very convinced of Carly’s northern-inspired cuisine and decide not to invest. Carly, though, is sure of her professional skills and decides to give the restaurant more time, even if it means borrowing more money.
What happens between Carly and Freeman?
It does not take very long for tension to rise in Boiling Point, as in the very first episode, a moment of crisis makes its way inside the kitchen. Even though Liam had asked Carly to personally meet with the investors at their table and discuss more about her passion and the restaurant, the head chef is unable to do so. This is because of an emergency phone call that she receives from her mother, Vivian. The elderly woman calls Carly first to inform her of some sharp pain in her limbs, but she is not very clear about the complaint either. Vivian had earlier called up her daughter and exaggerated about her struggles, too, so Carly does not take this too seriously. As the restaurant is fully packed with customers and the kitchen is still understaffed, Carly returns to manage her job after telling her mother to activate the emergency call button and ring it in case something goes wrong further.
This is exactly what happens, though, as Carly’s phone rings from her mother’s number after some time, and when she tries to call back, there is no response from Vivian. Although the protagonist still remembers Vivian’s false alarms from earlier, and her trusted sous-chef Freeman also reminds her of the incident, Carly does not want to take any risk with her mother’s health. Even though the two women are not exactly the closest friends, a restrained but strong mother-daughter bond is gradually revealed in the episodes.
But when Carly reaches home, though, she finds Vivian completely fine. The woman says that she must have mistakenly pressed the emergency call button and then was not able to hear the phone when Carly rang back. Even though Vivian might have been telling the truth in this case, there is also the fact that the woman feels bad for the extreme physical and mental struggle that Carly has to go through regularly to run the restaurant. Vivian even directly tells Carly to stop the business, and it might be that the woman is sometimes extra tough on her daughter only to make her understand her perspective.
Carly leaves, extremely irritated, and by the time she returns to Point North, things have escalated for the worse. The investor friends of Liam have left without showing any interest in the business since they feel more popular cuisines would sell more. The sous-chef Freeman had to step into Carly’s shoes and talk to the investors when things went further out of control inside the kitchen. The new chef de partie, Johnny, is hurriedly given the responsibility of serving beef jus with a dish, and the man, new to the kitchen, pours in some chocolate sauce instead. This mistake has to be corrected by Freeman, and the particular and short-tempered sous-chef is livid because of it. Johnny also innocently tries to put out a fire and ends up making it worse, even burning his own hand in the process. When Freeman returns and finds his kitchen in a mess, he loses control of his anger and creates a ruckus, hurling a bottle dangerously.
Upon her return, Carly has to first convince Liam to still put in funds for the business, and she then sits with Freeman as well. When the sous chef is unwilling to listen and genuinely apologize for his temper, Carly, too, opens up about her deepest feelings. She holds Freeman partly responsible for Andy’s heart attack, and the man is as shocked as he is enraged. In a very swift decision, Freeman quits his job at Point North, and Carly is left without her trusted sous chef for the remainder of the season. Later on, it is revealed that Freeman has returned to the same business, which was once Jones & Sons, as the place has been turned into a new restaurant under new ownership.
What has happened to Andy Jones?
Six months after his dangerous cardiac arrest, Andy Jones is even more broken than he was while running his restaurant. While there was tremendous stress in keeping his personal life together, along with making the business profitable, Andy’s life is now completely empty and purposeless. The man spends his days lazing away at his apartment watching television, all by himself. Having lost both his personal and professional families, the man is clearly in severe depression and even keeps drinking despite having been strictly told not to by the doctors. Andy and Carly have not spoken since that fateful night, and the once-celebrated chef has grown extremely bitter towards the woman and also the rest of the team. Reading about the newly opened Point North restaurant and seeing almost all of his kitchen staff working at the new business only brings back traumatic moments from that night for Andy.
However, the incredibly kind-hearted Emily still keeps in touch with Andy, and she often visits his apartment with food from the restaurant. Carly does ask Emily about the man’s condition, but she never directly contacts him. Emily convinces Andy to stay away from alcohol with the help of support groups. Emily herself was once a severe alcoholic, and she now agrees to be Andy’s sponsor, helping him stay away from the addiction, in a truly heartwarming scene. Gradually, with time, Andy does realize his own mistakes and perhaps understands how his addiction has affected all of his kitchen staff.
We watch Andy spend time with his young son, too, and it is through his interactions with the boy that the man’s gradual coming to terms with his life gets revealed. In this while, he also receives a call from Beth, a worker from his old restaurant, whose father also happens to be the majority shareholder in the business. Andy perhaps imagines that he might be given some work since nobody wants to hire or give the man a chance anymore. However, Beth only makes him sign documents to hand over his share of the business to her name, as she has opened her new restaurant at the place. He meets Freeman here and then gradually comes to realize that his old team was truly like a family around him. Andy even gathers up the courage to visit the Point North restaurant one evening, but he ultimately cannot take a table or meet with anyone. In his wait for Carly to call him, Andy finally visits his old colleague’s house, and even though she is not there, the man meets up with Vivian and makes it clear that he wants to meet with Carly, too.
What happens with Jamie and Robyn?
Just like in the film, Boiling Point (2023) once again provides enjoyable depth and shade to the various characters. While the 2021 work was obviously restricted by the time limit, a four-episode-long series with each part an hour long, there is definitely more chance to further develop the characters. The more BBC’s Boiling Point unfurls and opens up, the more it feels like the exact thing any fan of the film would want to watch. The new chef de partie, Johnny, has lied about his experience as a chef only to earn enough for his wife and newborn babies, while his only major job in the past was in the army as a soldier. A new sous chef, Nick, is also hired, and the man has a sexual misconduct problem as he tries to pursue Camille and turns vengeful after her rejection. Kitchen porter Jake is also back, and he struggles hard to earn enough for his younger sister’s education and wishes.
The biggest development takes place with Jamie, who has been trying to get funds and a place of his own. Despite his mother figure, Emily, lovingly looking out for him, Jamie goes through some serious mental struggles. The rejections and failures slowly creep into his head, and the young man, who clearly suffers from deep-rooted mental illnesses, goes back to his old ways and attempts suicide inside the restaurant’s staff washroom. It is only because of Emily that Jamie is found and sent to the hospital before it is too late, and in the end, he does recover and even returns to the Point North restaurant.
Another big revelation comes for one of the servers, Robyn, who was also there in the Boiling Point film. Although extremely cheerful and kind at most times, Robyn goes through some serious health issues at the end of the series. Always interested in acting, the young woman would regularly audition for roles, hoping for a chance to pursue her dreams. In the fourth episode of Boiling Point, Robyn goes for one such audition again but is unable to even perform as she has a sudden toilet emergency. It is later revealed, at the very end of the season, that Robyn has been suffering from Crohn’s disease for some time now. It is because of this that she has been staying away from any physical intimacy with her boyfriend, Billy. Dean now provides her comfort, and the woman finally seems settled and accepting of her fate, evidently happy that she has been able to share her troubles with her close friends.
Do Andy and Carly reunite? What happens to Carly’s restaurant?
During Boiling Point‘s ending, the staff of Point North goes out to a club to celebrate a successful wedding party held at the restaurant. Although Carly initially goes out on a date, she soon joins in and celebrates with her employees. However, the co-owner, Liam, also arrives at the place and eventually lets out that he can no longer bear the expenses of the business. This effectively means that Point North would be shut down, and Carly shudders to think of the consequences for all of the staff members.
It is now that she finally lets go of all her ego and inhibitions, in the very highest state of despair and helplessness, and visits Andy Jones’ apartment. Despite the two having not met in the last six months, Carly and Andy almost immediately forgive each other and put away their differences. It is then Andy who motivates Carly to not give up and instead suggests that they together think of some way to salvage the business. In the very last scene of Boiling Point, Carly is seen returning to the North Point kitchen alone late at night, and she now has a slight smile on her face despite the initial stress and tension.
This scene surely means that Carly and Andy must have come up with some idea to either save the restaurant or start some other similar venture. It is most likely that Andy will also join his ex-chef partner and will become part of the team once more, either directly or in some indirect advisory manner. Either way, if the BBC does return with a second season of Boiling Point, then this team would surely be one to root for.