'Guilt' Season 2: Episode 1 Recap

Mark Bonnar as Max McCall in Guilt     (Credit: Courtesy of (C) Expectation/Happy Tramp North 2021)

About a year has passed since we met Edinburgh lawyer Max McCall (Mark Bonnar) and his brother Jake (Jamie Sives). If you watched the first season of Guilt, you might recall it all began when Jake struck and killed an elderly pedestrian with Max's car. Desperate to avoid a scandal, Max insisted they carry the deceased pensioner back to his nearby home and hoped that, when he is found, the police would assume the victim died of natural causes.

Of course, in the end, that's not what happened. There were secrets and twists aplenty, many due to Max's corrupt business dealings and association with dangerous mobster Roy Lynch (Bill Paterson). Max was convicted of covering up a case of accidental vehicular manslaughter, for which he was incarcerated for two years and was also disbarred.

As Season 2 begins, we are dropped into the middle of a dinner party of complete strangers, all toasting the sobriety of Adrian (Robin Laing). However, his wife Erin (Sara Vickers) doesn't seem to hold out much hope that he'll remain on the wagon. That night after his wife has fallen asleep, Adrian sneaks off in a cab, enters an exclusive-looking club, and returns home with a gym bag full of cash. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the opportunity to use his ill-gotten gains because the bag's owner comes after it posthaste and shoots Adrian in the head. Erin, hiding in the shadows, disables the stranger with a golf club and then fatally wounds him with his own gun when he rushes her.

After that dramatic sequence, a few familiar faces appear, and we see Max being released from prison. With his wife, home, and business gone, all that's left for him is his brother Jake's flat. Even Jake has abandoned him, moving to America with his girlfriend, Angie. Max visits his old office where his former collaborator/nemesis, Roy Lynch (now played by Stuart Bowman), runs the show. Max lobbies for Roy to give him a piece of his business back since he stayed quiet about their illegal activities in prison. Roy insists his dealings are all above board now, and Max should consider that he's still living a gift.

Eventually, Max goes to see another associate from the past, his private investigator, Kenny Burns (Emun Elliott). Kenny attends AA meetings regularly and makes new friends like Yvonne (Rochelle Neil), whom he seems to like very much. Kenny has also earned a certification in legal services. He understands Max is only interested in working with him because he can return to a semblance of lawyering under his license. Though tempted by the expertise Max could bring to his business, Kenny is hesitant to join forces with an ex-con who took advantage of him in the past. He proposes that if Max is serious, he should submit to a trial run — refurbishing his office, which is currently decorated with friendly wild animals. Max begrudgingly accepts Kenny's terms and repaints the office.

(Credit: Courtesy of (C) Expectation/Happy Tramp North 2021)

In the meantime, we are shown the first of many reveals that pepper this episode. Erin, needing some cleanup services, calls on her estranged father, Roy Lynch. Pleased that his only child has reached out, he comes over immediately to lend her his expertise. Roy fills Erin in on his plan: a missing person's report will be filed on Adrian while the stranger (apparently ex-army) will be made to look as if he died by suicide. Daddy'll make the physical mess disappear and get the bag of money laundered for her. Erin insists she doesn't need it but soon reconsiders when she discovers the extent of her husband's debt in her name.

The following day, Kenny shows up at the office with a spring in his step and big ideas for his renamed business, Leith Legals. An offer of moderately priced wills will draw customers. Surprisingly, the first punter through the door is Roy Lynch with a bottle of wine and a "request" for Max to launder a troublesome stash of cash. He declines to identify to who the money belongs. Kenny isn't keen to allow shady dealings in his shop. But once he finds a tracker in the bag, the investigator in him is awakened, and they decide to plant it somewhere and see who comes looking for it.

Meanwhile, with instructions on where to send Roy's cleaned cash, Max decides to pay a cold call to the recipient. With an owl-festooned business card in hand, he informs Erin she is the sole beneficiary of a sketchy blind trust created at the behest of Roy Lynch. Pretending she doesn't know who that is, Erin wonders aloud if she should call the police. Max takes the hint and beats a hasty retreat. Afterward, Roy visits Erin to let her know that the laundered money is now available to her —not his money, but a silver lining left by Adrian. He also tries to convince her that she is more like him than she would like to admit.

The next reveal of the episode comes when we discover that Kenny's AA pal, Yvonne, is a police officer who works with Lynch's inside man, DS Stevie Malone (Henry Pettigrew). We can deduce from their conversation that Stevie was promoted over Yvonne because word about her drinking must have reached the higher-ups somehow. Later, another officer brings the missing persons' report that Stevie filed on Adrian to Yvonne's attention. He made some glaring errors, and Yvonne agreed to fix them.

(Credit: Courtesy of (C) Expectation/Happy Tramp North 2021)

For the first time, we also meet Erin's mother, Maggie (Phyllis Logan). She lives in a small flat in a retirement community, a far cry from her ex's lavish bachelor pad. Erin confesses she called her dad for help, but that will be the last time. Maggie doesn't seem too bothered and says Roy has his uses. Later Mrs. Lynch confronts a shady salesman she's noticed visiting her neighbors. He says he is offering legit investment opportunities for new property complexes in Leith and rather menacingly tells her to mind her own business.

The last few minutes of the episode unfold with a whirlwind of developments. Kenny observes a man with a "Stanton Shoots Jesus Saves" bumper sticker on his car retrieving the gym bag containing the tracker. An elderly man and his son are visited by the police, who inform them their loved one was found dead, the cause being ruled a suicide. A photo of the victim shows him as the intruder in Erin's basement. Lynch pops up at the property investment salesman's door, and the visit is not friendly.

Most curiously, Max goes for a run and sits on a bench next to a woman and her West Highland terrier. And then, this conversation about Max's emotional motivations takes place.

 

Guilt has maintained its dark humor and breakneck plot twists from season one. Who are all these new faces, and how are they all connected? Hang on tight because I feel things might get more complicated before they become clear.