Eddie Horniman In ‘The Gentlemen’ Explained: Why Did The Duke Of Halstead Become A Gangster?

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Eddie Horniman is the protagonist of The Gentlemen. He was born into immense wealth because his father was the Duke of Halstead. But instead of staying back with his family, which included his mother, elder brother, sister-in-law, younger sister, and the gameskeeper, he went out into the world to represent the UK army in the UN’s peacekeeping practices at the Syrian border in Turkey. When his father died and made him the new Duke of Halstead, he inherited the castle as well as the debts that his brother, Freddy, had accumulated. He started making plans to sell the castle’s decorations to gather money and save Freddy from being killed by Tommy Dixon. He was approached by Stanley Johnston, a wealthy businessman who wanted to buy the Halstead estate for a huge amount of money. However, since that was his home, Eddie wasn’t incredibly interested in entertaining that offer. And when Eddie’s back was against the wall, Susie Glass emerged before him and revealed that a part of her father’s immense weed empire was functioning from his estate, and to ensure that that remained functional, she wanted to help him help Freddy. That was how Eddie’s journey into a world of crime began.

Eddie is such a fascinating character because he is presented as this reluctant king who doesn’t want the throne even though he is the most deserving candidate. But that’s subverted by the revelation that he was thinking too highly of himself and his family by rejecting the supposed wealth acquired by his father and his ancestors. In fact, he was being pushed into a life of abject misery because of his brother’s misdeeds. The presence of the Glass Empire in his backyard seemed like a boon to him, initially, because Susie not only helped him save Freddy, but she also helped them get rid of Tommy Dixon and his associate, Jethro, after things went sideways. However, when Susie started throwing odd jobs in his general direction, he turned into a reluctant gangster as he decided to make a ton of money for the Glasses. In exchange, they would leave the Halstead estate and allow the Hornimans to resume what they considered a “normal life.” That said, the truth of the matter was that, once you become a criminal, you stay a criminal until you breathe your last. I guess Eddie was way too optimistic to realize that cold, hard fact, even after “accidentally” killing a man. He really believed, from the bottom of his heart, that the blood that was on his hands could be washed away by doing several good deeds.

There came a time—I’m going to say in Episode 5 of The Gentlemen—where it seemed like he had started to enjoy this life, especially after bonding with JP and realizing that he wasn’t a classist piece of garbage like every other royal in the country. He was a down-to-earth guy who would put his back into anything that he was doing and see it to its bitter end, no matter the cost. And that was something that everybody who worked with him appreciated a lot. But he decided to truly sever his ties with the Glasses after he found out that Susie had lied to him about sending Jethro to Australia, where in reality she had killed him and dumped his body into the Thames. This showed that he wasn’t as cold-hearted as the rest of the members of the crime world. He was a sentimental guy. Now, being a sentimental criminal was not a big surprise. I mean, Gospel John’s whole shtick was that he loved his brother too much to forgive Freddy and Eddie for killing him in their house. So, Eddie being emotional about Freddy’s fate was expected. That said, seeing him get angry about the death of the sidekick of a guy who made Freddy act like a chicken was quite surprising. This showed that, despite reaching new depths of darkness due to the nature of his “job,” he was a good guy at heart, i.e., a true gentleman.

By the end of The Gentlemen, Eddie realized that there was no way to get out of this world of crime. He would have to die or relinquish the Halstead estate to truly put an end to his obligations to the Glasses and everyone that was after them and his family. Since that would endanger the lives of his loved ones, especially his pregnant sister Charly, he didn’t want to consider that as an option. In fact, when he analyzed what he actually wanted and when Freddy showed him the mirror and exposed his true nature, Eddie realized that this life of crime was his true calling. He knew he wouldn’t be able to go back to the army and serve as a captain. He knew that he wouldn’t be able to collect a meager paycheck from the Glasses and let them take over his familial estate, and that too after knowing that there was a way to live a lavish life. So, that was why he decided to shift gears and unleash his ruthless strategic side. In doing so, he inadvertently ended up proving to Bobby Glass that he was built to be a proper gentleman gangster and that he could take the reins of his empire alongside Susie Glass. That whole endeavor also brought his family together. Maybe they were programmed to follow a patriarchal figure, and, despite his intention not to be at the helm of the Halstead estate, he gave them exactly what they wanted, which, in a way, allowed them to pursue their personal needs.

Given Theo James’ sweet demeanor, it did seem like it would be easy to like The Gentlemen’s Eddie Horniman. But seeing him become more and more unhinged with each bad deed made it quite an uphill task. I was willing to ignore the fact that he was a royal with a history of oppressing minorities who was trying to build his empire. However, when I saw him enjoying the world of crime, even that became difficult. Thankfully, there were several instances that humbled him in the best ways possible. He got beaten up quite a few times. He realized that having royal blood coursing through his veins wasn’t enough to be respected. He needed to earn it, and he did. He apologized every time he messed up. And he always cared for innocent people and treated the act of killing bad people as a last resort. If that’s not a complex and interesting protagonist, I don’t know who is. I am unsure if I’ll get to see more of Eddie Horniman, but if Netflix greenlights a second season of The Gentlemen, I hope that he is made to go through a different kind of ringer, thereby forcing him to come up with a new set of solutions. I have a feeling that by the time the series wraps, he’s going to end up parting ways with his good side and embracing his dark side. He just has that streak of wickedness in him. I won’t be surprised if he becomes the central antagonist of the franchise and towers over Bobby Glass and his weed empire.


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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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