*Spoilers from series 1; avert your eyes if you’re yet to watch*
There’s no simple way of explaining the mayhem that ensued in Tin Star, but let’s see if we can find some sense amongst the chaos.
In the first episode, we’re introduced to the Worth family, consisting of Jim (the enigmatic Tim Roth), his wife Angela, their daughter Anna, and son Petey. The family now live in Little Big Bear, a small town in Canada. They’re trying to escape from their past, but the reason why isn’t revealed until later into the series.
While on their way home, the Worth’s stop at a gas station and a masked gunman appears. This mysterious figure shoots into the car and blood spatters everywhere. The episode jumps back in time to offer a backstory.
Jim Worth is the Sheriff of Little Big Bear and a recovering alcoholic. He has an underlying disregard for others and appears to humour them because he has to, rather than wanting to. His indifference only intensifies as the series goes on, until he’s quite unbearable to be around.
There’s an overarching story about an oil company that wants to expand in Little Big Bear. Along with Louis Gagnon; a shifty looking overseer skulking in the background, and Elizabeth Bradshaw; a peppy, confident Vice President who tries to keep the peace, there’s a lot of tension brewing between the representatives of North Stream Oil and the Sheriff.
Jim doesn’t want the increase in workers bringing trouble to the seemingly tranquil town. He approaches Suzy, a woman with previous connections to North Stream Oil and is later alerted to a body found in a car. It’s Suzy, and although it’s assumed she committed suicide, Jim isn’t so sure. That’s the start of his vendetta against North Stream Oil.
We’re momentarily thrown back to the incident in the car, before being abruptly sent to the hospital. It appears that Angela and Petey have both been shot.
As things later transpire, Angela survives but Petey does not. Petey’s death is the catalyst that causes the self-destruction of the Worth family, with each member turning down a different road, each with their own dangers.
Jim despair leads him back to drink and we’re exposed to his ‘other’ self; an unpredictable, extremely violent man. Angela is struggling against her injury and grief, but she’s not one to give up completely. Keep in mind that she’s used to living in a difficult situation – she’s lived with Jim/Jack for long enough!
But Jim’s unwillingness to agree to Gagnon’s ways and Elizabeth’s crusade to bring Gagnon down ends in a violent encounter for Angela. Gagnon tracks Elizabeth back to Angela’s house, a fight ensues and eventually Angela shoots Gagnon.
During her grief, Anna, on the other hand, connects with a stranger and that’s where things really start to get interesting. He’s called Simon, but goes by the name ‘Whitey’. There’s something about him from the start that doesn’t feel right and his curiosity about the Worth family is a little too intense. Even so, he and Anna strike up a friendship and later, a relationship.
When the truth about Whitey’s identity is revealed, it finally offers us the answers we’ve been searching for. Who was Jim before moving to Little Big Bear? Or rather, who was Jack?
Jack Devlin went undercover and started a relationship with a woman whose brother was well connected in the crime world. But this woman wasn’t alone; she had a young son who was called Simon. He became attached to Jack, seeing him as a father figure and was happy with their family dynamic. When Jack’s cover was blown and it was time to leave, he abandoned Simon.
But what did Jack leave behind? Simon never let go of the resentment he felt for Jack when he left.
Fast forward a good few years and Simon has transformed into Whitey, someone who is so consumed by his hatred that he tracked Jack down and planned to kill him. It also turns out that Whitey was the one responsible for Petey’s death, even though the bullet was intended for Jack.
As the series ends, Anna is disgusted by her father’s previous actions and defends Whitey, even though she knows the truth about Petey’s death. Jack isn’t willing to take the blame for the past and is only interested in making Whitey pay for what he’s done. After Whitey tells Jack that he loves him, Jack replies, “I love you too, mate” before shooting him in front of Anna and Angela.
Distraught, Anna picks up a gun and shoots Jack. The screen goes black and we’re left wondering if Jack has finally got his comeuppance.
Judging by the trailer for series 2 however, Jack is very much still alive and is on the hunt for Anna. What’s left for the Worth’s? Surely their family is fractured beyond repair? Maybe the only way it’ll end is if Anna kills Jack; like father, like daughter, eh?
Additional notes: There’s more to this series than the above, but these are definitely the main points. The acting from Tim Roth, Genevieve O'Reilly (Angela), Abigail Lawrie (Anna) and the sinister, yet lost portrayal by Oliver Coppersmith (Whitey) is superb. Some aspects of the series are quite far-fetched and the story does seem rather extreme, especially with the ominous presence of the oil company who’s willing to kill if anyone opposes them…
But you’ll get to see plenty of the beauty Canada has to offer and can experience a gritty outlook on life when all you’re looking for is revenge.
Tin Star is back on Sky Atlantic on January 24th. Whet your appetite with this preview clip...