Getting through the last three episodes of SNATCH felt like a chore. The tone of the show leaves little doubt that this is all going to end well (spoilers: it does), and such a disproportionately small amount of time was given to really digging into the characters that I realized as I rounded out episode nine that I didn’t really… care whether they succeeded or not.
It’s a bunch of career criminals who give no real reason that they’re criminals other than Vic giving a petulant shout about how he was meant for more than a mundane life, basically, against a bunch of dirty but formless cops. There are no ‘good guys’, and there’s no attempt made to feel like Al, his family, and friends should win this show down. They’re not good people, they’re not sympathetic — we never see them truly struggling beyond the trouble they cause themselves, so there’s no sense of injustice that would motivate the viewer to find them worthy or deserving of this greater purpose. Basically, although I really enjoyed Snatch at its beginning, they never really go beyond the surface, and so by the end it feels like a dud.
Al, Vic, and Lil all reconcile to some extent and form a super team to get the gold back from Bob Fink, who’s stolen it. It would’ve been a more complex skirmish if it were the criminals vs. Bob Fink vs. the dirty cops, but the dirty cops shoot Bob Fink in his apartment while Charlie hides in the closet and take the gold, so then there are two.
A decent amount of time is dedicated to having Lil talk about how Vic cares about his family more than people know which is shocking and frustrating since there’s absolutely no evidence of this. Hate ‘Em gives Al a speech about how Vic was once really proud of Al for doing well at a soccer game when he was a kid, which is nice, but just because your dad showed up for one soccer game and is proud of you from a distance doesn’t negate his actions if he’s otherwise neglectful and/or mean depending on his mood. He also, let’s be clear, inducts and encourages his young, impressionable son into the criminal underworld, which certainly disqualifies him from father of the year for all eternity. And, what conveniently gets dropped after it happens, is the fact that Vic broke out of prison. Whether or not they get the gold, Vic is a wanted criminal. Instead of waiting a few months so that he could get out legally and be properly present for his family like he claims to want to be, he once again decided he was special and above the law.
Sue me, but I’m over media about middle-aged white dudes feeling they have a higher calling and are entitled to things that they don’t want to work for, and feel they are above the consequences for stealing. Yawn. Also, ew.
So anyway, Vic, Hate ‘Em, Lil, Al, Charlie, Billy, Lottie, Chloe, and Norm the safecracker all team up to get the gold, which is being held by the dirty cops at a safe house. The cops — namely DI Dwyer, the woman mentioned previously, and her awful supervisor — are planning to sell the gold to some Corsicans. Vic lets Al plan the break in and give the pep talk which I guess is supposed to be heartwarming but just makes you want to be like, “are you really taking your son into a life threatening situation… again?”
Not to be hypocritical, as I wouldn’t want Vic to drag Lil into a life threatening situation either, but then ensues the most frustrating thing I’ve seen a show do in recent memory. When they actually go to execute the plan, they separate by gender. The men go to do the action scenes, and the women go to a completely separate location to buy a house and plan their lives in Spain, should they succeed in getting the gold. Lil gives a nice little mention of how being the better half to a bank robber requires a lot of cool and contingency planning, which is all well and good, but it rings hollow when it feels like a justification for writing the women out of the immediate plot for no reason other than the writers can’t seem to be bothered to make them into characters rather than accessories.
The men, meanwhile, plant bugs in the house to hear the location of the swap — Liverpool docks, though the specifics are muddled. Unfortunately, Norm is killed in the scuffle, and there’s a whole five seconds devoted to mourning him before we forget this person who’s in theory a close, lifelong friend of at least three of the main characters. The cops get away with the gold, but Vic is injured and ends up in the back of their van. Al et al follow along in their van, and the women in their separate car manage to figure out which boat they’re looking for which is probably supposed to make me feel better about the fact that they’re given so little to do (again, spoilers: it doesn’t.)
There’s a massive fight at the docks, and some real cops show up after Charlie gets into Bob Fink’s phone, and sends the CCTV footage of Dwyer and her boss murdering him to the police. The only casualty other than Norm is Dwyer, whom her boss uses as a human shield, because they needed to add one more thing to this show to really ruin it for me. Actually, there’s one more casualty — the gold. They blow it up with a grenade to keep the dirty cop boss from getting it, which you’d think would be kind of a big moment since Vic’s entire life has been revolving around that specific gold for so long, but as usual Snatch doesn’t have time for emotional range beyond a few millimeters.
Luckily, they beat out the Corsicans and get their money, and take off on a boat heading for Spain. They’re thrilled and happy and smiling and there’s a montage of badass moments from episodes past. There’s also a truly weird sequence of beats where (a) Charlie kisses Chloe even though there’s been no indication that Chloe has any interest in him whatsoever or that he merits her interest to begin with, (b) Billy and Lottie kiss, and (c) Vic and Lil cuddle at the front of the boat.
Basically: all of the men in the story (spare Al, sorry bud) are rewarded with women at the end of the show. It’s so blatant and uncomfortable and completely unnecessary that my skin is actually crawling thinking about it. This male entitlement fantasy where if you do a good job you should be rewarded with a woman at the end of your story needs to exit the zeitgeist, like, fifty years ago — it’s actually, actively harmful and dangerous and on top of that, it’s just so boring.
Snatch started off fun and charming, but fell into predictable patterns and plot lines that ended up making it feel like a stale rehashing of a genre has so much potential for re-envisioning in a modern context. It seems like if you’re going to adapt old material, the whole point would be to breathe new life into it and make it mean something. Mostly, Snatch just blows a lot of stuff up.
Season 1, Episode 9-10 (S01E09-10)
Snatch streams on Crackle now
Alyssa Thorne | Contributor