Ever since its release in 2000, the English crime drama film Sexy Beast has gained quite a bit of fame and popularity over the years because of its tense narrative and gripping performances. Twenty-three years later, Paramount+ has decided to bring back the same characters on screen, this time through a prequel series going by the same name. Also, a crime drama borrowing from the thriller genre, the Sexy Beast series takes us back to the 1990s, a few years before the events of the film, and fleshes out the individuals seen in Jonathan Glazer’s film. The first three episodes, which have been released together, are engaging enough to bring back fans of the original film, and the direction the show will take in the next five will be interesting to watch.
How does Gal get involved in a life of hard crime?
The Sexy Beast prequel series begins with a similar scene of Gal Dove sunbathing as the iconic opening of the film, except the setting is very different. Instead of being in a luxurious villa in the quiet Spanish countryside, Gal is now sunbathing on the roof of his house in London, with the bustling city in the background. In the film, a large boulder crashed into the pool of the house, foreshadowing the tumultuous weeks that were coming for the protagonist. The series has no such interruption by nature; rather, it is Don Logan who walks into the scene, carrying a shotgun and jokingly pointing it at the protagonist. This immediately establishes the kind of company that Gal keeps, as he is already quite involved in a life of petty crime.
Together with his close friends Don and Aich, Gal runs a small-time crime gang, going around robbing and looting businesses in the surrounding neighborhoods. Their first such job in the series takes place in the very opening minutes, as the gang reaches a casino joint and threatens the owner into opening the safe for them. The boys go out partying next, celebrating one more criminal success, even though most of them do not want to be graduating to any big-level thievery. However, this is exactly the kind of work that comes their way soon enough, when the group is approached by a notorious figure in the criminal world of London. Gal and Don were often contacted by an acquaintance named Stanley Higgins, who gave them some of the jobs that they carried out earlier. Higgins had been noticing the rise of the gang in criminal terms, and this is why he now recommends Gal and the team to his close associate, Teddy Bass.
Teddy Bass is already a recognized name in the underworld, and he has been planning on a series of hits on his next target, Sir Stephen Eaton. A rich businessman with aristocratic links, Eaton owns a number of extremely valuable items in his possession, which seem to be the main target for Teddy. Along with this, Eaton is also very close with the McGraw gang, who are professional rivals, in a way, for Teddy. Therefore, the ruthless man wants to land an indirect blow on the McGraws as well, by stealing from Eaton, as the man takes protection from the rival family gang. The first item to be stolen is a rare coin with historical value, which is to be transferred from one location to another on a security van. Thus, when Teddy needs a crew to run this heist for him, Higgins brings Gal, Don, Aich, and their fourth friend, Larry.
The gang, led by Gal, does not want to partake in this heist, though, as they know the consequences of doing business with such dangerous men. Although Don is convinced that they must do the job because his elder sister Cecilia wants them to do it, Gal is sure that he does not want to change his mind. Teddy tries a number of ways to convince them, starting with stating how Eaton was a cruel capitalist, making deals with the Chinese, and letting down his country as well as the impoverished people around him. To make his chances better, Teddy also gives a rousing speech about how the young men should have high ambitions of building a successful life. Gal still remains unwilling, even though he is seemingly affected by the words. When the man reveals his reasons for becoming a criminal in the first place, it is evident that Gal has always been perturbed by the vast disparity between the haves and the have-nots.
However, the reason for Gal changing his mind over the heist is a completely personal and romantic one. The man is seen to be engaged to his girlfriend, Marjorie Kern, and both their families are preparing for their marriage soon. But Gal has fallen out of love with the woman, and meeting a young, attractive woman named Deedee makes him even more distracted. After running into Deedee twice and approaching her, Gal realizes that, just like her, he too wishes to do something significant in life and get out of the figurative small pond that his life is. The man also understands that nobody around him, including Marjorie, has such ambitions, and it is only Deedee who he can relate to. Spurred by an extreme interest in pursuing the woman, Gal finally agrees to do the coin heist, demanding to be equal partners with Teddy in the profits.
A meticulously planned heist is carried out, in which Gal and his gang steal the coin within just a few minutes, earning themselves even more criminal acclaim. Soon, Teddy plans on getting hold of another rich artifact in Eaton’s possession and once again hires Gal’s help. The crew has to break into an office in a building at night and break open an extremely strong and difficult safe. Gal comes up with the means to carry this out, and another mission is successfully completed, although the protagonist’s high ambitions come into play here more directly. As the artifact is an old statue, Gal makes inquiries about what it actually is and finds out that the statue is an extremely expensive piece of work from Laos. This makes him hold on to the item for a few days, as he wishes to make some more money for themselves.
In this time, Gal also realizes exactly what he and his team have stepped into. A security guard had seen the gang after the coin heist, making it very possible that he might tell the authorities about them. As soon as Teddy finds out about this from his contacts, he orders the murder of the security guard. Although Gal promises to commit the murder, he actually intends to let the young man go. Even in the heat of the moment, when Don wants to kill the man, Gal takes over the situation and lets the security guard go. Although he is able to steer clear of taking a life as of now, it is very possible that Gal will indeed have to kill very soon. Despite being able to save the guard’s life, Gal can do nothing about Larry, as the fourth member of the gang is shot dead by Teddy since he was no longer trusted by the boss after the heist.
What is the reason behind Don’s unusual character?
There is no doubt that Sexy Beast has taken a rather divisive decision with regards to the character of Don, who happened to be the main antagonist in the 2000 film. Such was the dominance of the character and the brilliance with which Ben Kingsley played the role that it was Don who brought the most intensity to the film. Don’s character was marked by a cruel and ruthless nature, as the man never cared about anyone else and had an almost blind hatred towards anyone who stood in his way. In fact, Don did not mind turning against his own friends when the latter did not want to work or act according to his demands. The prequel series now tries to present reasons behind the man’s unusual and erratic nature, which is not really the best way to deal with the strongest character in the work.
Don, in Sexy Beast series, is as erratic and hot-headed as ever, sometimes even more so, as he seems outright deranged. During a double date scenario with Gal, Marjorie, and a friend of hers, Don has a sudden outburst of anger and hatred, as he is about to stab the woman as well. In other instances, Don gets angry very quickly and clearly suffers from a terrible self-doubt, always feeling that people are demeaning him and trying to take advantage of him. Don’s character is now given a backstory, which begins in his very childhood days, when the boy was growing up in an extremely unhealthy household. His father was tremendously abusive, verbally, physically, and sexually, towards the mother and also Don, as there are suggestions that the boy was regularly assaulted. Out of rage and helplessness, Don’s mother murdered her husband one night, right in front of the boy, and this affected him even more adversely.
It is most likely that the mother was arrested by the police after the murder or that she took her own life. Either way, Don’s mother was out of the picture not long after, and the boy was molded and raised by his elder sister, Cecilia. Along with this disturbed childhood, Cecilia also has much to do with Don’s personality, as the man shows extremes of emotion, ranging from vulnerability to maniacal. It is evident that Cecilia has been controlling her brother since a very young age, making him do things only for her benefit and ensuring that he never develops any rational thinking of his own. Don is almost like a minion or puppet of Cecilia, and so the woman is quite cautious of Gal, who has been giving her brother more humane advice. Even at present, the sister holds a very tight grip over who Don is and what he does in life, and it is Cecilia who introduced her brother and Gal to Stanley Higgins. Towards the end of episode three, she makes Don commit some serious violent acts against a woman who had been stealing from their casino, despite his having some hesitations. What Sexy Beast does with Don’s character in the next episodes will greatly affect the quality of the series overall, especially since it has been an underwhelming start in this regard.
Who is Teddy Bass working for?
Teddy’s character is also very dark and mysterious, and we have not been given too much information about who he is and where he has come from. But his truly criminal nature and evil intent are made clear by his actions against the rival McGraw family members. After a minor altercation with Freddie McGraw, the son of the mob family, Teddy forces himself upon the man right in front of everyone at his own club. Freddie tries to take revenge against this act, which coincides with his father, Dominic, hiring a police officer to find out who had been stealing from their client, Sir Eaton. The police officer eventually finds Aich and learns about Teddy from him, but when he relays this information to Freddie, the young man chooses to take his own revenge.
Without informing his father about any of this, Freddie kills the police officer and heads to a bar frequented by Teddy to kill the man. Perhaps Freddie intended to prove to his father that he was worthy enough by killing the man who had been stealing from them. However, Freddie is unable to pull the trigger, seemingly out of the crushing effect that the sexual abuse of him has left. This ability of intimidation is what makes Teddy even more dangerous, and by the end of episode three, Gal also realizes this. Therefore, the protagonist brings the Laotian idol to Teddy and finally hands it over to him. However, Gal has also realized that there is someone ordering Teddy as well, and the mobster is actually working for someone who has a direct vendetta against Eaton, the McGraws, or both. In the end, Gal confronts Teddy about this, perhaps because he intends to report to this boss directly, cutting out Bass from the middle. Teddy’s reaction also seems to suggest that this is indeed the case, as he tells Gal to pack a suitcase and be prepared to go somewhere the next day, probably to meet with his contact in Spain. But who the boss is and what his intention is remain a mystery as of now, which will be unfolded in the upcoming episodes of Sexy Beast.