The first and last thing to remember about The Artful Dodger is that it is completely unserious. Neither does it take medicine seriously, nor the brutalities of the characters. To put it simply, it is a game of fine balance that is played very ruthlessly. However, what is surprising is that the villains are simply people doing their jobs well, and the people doing their jobs with mediocrity are a tad bit too consumed by ego, which makes them prone to foolishness. Therefore, the only heroes are the rogues, who are affected by neither. On that note, David Thewlis steals the show entirely as Fagin. Why is he not the ‘artful dodger’? Either way, the comedy is rather well done, and if watched with the right perspective, there isn’t much to fault with the show. The following is a recap and ending of The Artful Dodger Season 1.
How are Jack Dawkins and Fagin connected?
Fagin was like a father to Jack, and he had picked him off the streets and trained him as a pickpocket till Jack was thirteen years old, and they had separated. Jack was once called the ‘Prince of Thieves’ (from the novel ‘Oliver Twist’), and those were the very skills (quick hands) that had helped him become a surgeon. When Jack had been placed in jail as a child, Fagin had been unable to help him, and it was clear that Jack was abandoned. From then on, Jack carried some resentment towards Fagin until they met fifteen years later. During this time, Jack learned surgery and found work as a navy surgeon before being recommended to a hospital in Australia, where he is currently employed. After all these years, he meets Fagin, who has found him as a convict waiting for punishment. To save himself, Jack takes Fagin under his wing as his servant, not knowing that Fagin has deliberately sought him out for his own reasons.
Why do Jack and Fagin make so many enemies?
Fagin is always looking for opportunities to make some quick money, and initially, even Jack is in need of that to settle some gambling debts. Fagin ends up stealing some rubies, but he finds that they are unsaleable. They then decide to steal some money from Captain Gaines’ house, and that backfires because the money is already stolen by someone else, who later goes on to become allies, but in the meantime, Gaines’ eye is on Jack and Fagin. It doesn’t really end here, with the duo always escaping the captain’s scrutiny through a stroke of luck but constantly calling suspicion upon themselves. It mostly starts because of Fagin and continues because Jack fights with Belle, which pushes him to become an unreasonable perfectionist in his goals. The basic point is that Jack is hell-bent on continuing his life as a surgeon, but due to the return of Fagin, he is getting more and more involved in being a criminal, and he can no longer deny that this is also a calling of his.
What comes of Belle and Jack’s partnership?
Belle has always wanted to be a surgeon, and when she gets the opportunity to hold something over Jack, she takes it and blackmails him into teaching her the trade. There is some initial friction because Belle has plenty of theoretical knowledge while Jack has worked in the field, in addition to the difference in philosophies that this results in. But with time, both of them learn to work with each other, and Jack finds that Belle has enough knowledge for him to borrow from, while Belle discovers that Jack actually encourages her to study and train, unlike the other men in her life. They work together to start using anesthetics, which were previously not allowed. Also, Belle finds a way to avoid infections in patients, and these two learn to manipulate the perennially drunk Head Surgeon to step back so that the patients are in safer hands. During this time, there is a rivalry between Jack and Sneed for the post of the next Head Surgeon. Sneed is not a bad man, but he has a tendency to place the welfare of his patients next to his own selfish interests, which are tackled by Jack and Belle from time to time.
Jack and Belle eventually fall in love, and Belle hints that she wants to marry Jack. She tries to convince her mother, Jane, to like him more, but that simply backfires when Jane tells Jack to break up with Belle or risk losing his career entirely. That works, and Jack’s rude manner causes the couple to break up. In a fit of anger and wanting to move on from the city, Jack agrees to help Fagin with the robbery of the gold from the Bank of England and then escape from Australia.
Are Jack and Fagin safe?
The biggest but best twist of The Artful Dodger was the return of Oliver Twist as the unexpected villain of the show. Fagin and Jack’s plan is to steal the gold from the governor’s house, but someone beats them to it, and it turns out to be Oliver Twist himself, who gives credit for his evil genius to Fagin’s upbringing. However, no one suspects Oliver of the crime, and Gaines threatens to hang Fagin if he is not able to get Jack to the gallows for him. Therefore, Fagin has no choice but to betray Jack once again, the way he did many years ago.
In the meantime, Jack is also presented with some upsetting news. He finds that Belle is prone to an aneurysm, and she can die anytime, so he has to find a way to operate on her. Jane is in denial about her daughter’s condition, but that stops neither of them. Belle and Jack find that her condition may be inoperable, and Belle gives up all hope. As for Jack, he tries again with a cadaver and figures out that there may be a way to save Belle’s life after all. He has to bring an unconscious Belle to the hospital to operate on, and while he does his work, Gaines is holding a gun to his head to shoot at any time. The moment Jack is done with his operation, Gaines drags him away, and they meet Fagin on the way. It looks like Fagin has betrayed Jack, but at the last minute, he shoots Gaines after taking his pardon from him. As for Jack, he runs to check up on Belle, and at the end of The Artful Dodger, he sees that she has regained consciousness, meaning that the surgery was successful.
Concerning the stolen gold, Fagin has managed to get it back by creating a distraction for Oliver’s carriages, though we feel bad for Fanny, who was innocently caught in all this. The recovery of the gold also means that the governor has preserved his job, and everyone is happy about it. Jack is dragged back to jail, where he and Fagin make up with each other. Fagin has a pardon with him, which means that he will be released from prison. As for Jack, he may be granted a pardon by the governor for saving his daughter. Additionally, since Sneed has accepted that Jack is the better surgeon, he may also be promoted to Chief Surgeon, which would give him enough standing in society to marry Belle.
We will watch the characters of The Artful Dodger in any universe and through any twisted plots they find themselves in. They have given us so much to like and dislike, along with plenty to debate about them, that we are simply wowed by the writing. It could have been better in many places, but overall, this is worth a watch and a laugh.