Hustle season 8 episode 6

It's the end of the line for the Hustle gang...


4  and a half stars



Old members join the Hustle team for the last of series 8


Air date: UK: 17 Feb, 2012, BBC One, 9pm


It was never likely that the end of Hustle would be a blubfest. In a TV landscape that pleads for our tears and our hearts, Hustle wasn't interested in emotion. It reveled in its own shallowness, and saw strut and style and bling as more important than truth. Cool was everything. And cool doesn't allow for tearful goodbyes.


Reunion in Hustle, the final episode

So, what do we get? Well, after a farewell season that's seen Hustle indulge its cartoonish tendencies a little too much, the final episode sees the gang take on a murderous Middle-Eastern businessman, a besuited psycho shit who regularly hires hitmen to savagely bump off luckless souls who stand in his way.


Mickey intends Madani Wasem to be his last mark. He wants out and he intends to leave the grifter scene with a hefty cash wad and the satisfaction of having fleeced a target that really deserved it. "I want to live a normal life for a while," Mickey tells Emma, in one of those late-night balcony two-headers that early Hustle did so much of. "I want to get to know people for who they are, not constantly look at them and see if they'd make a great mark or not."


The episode kicks off with the Hustle gang being faced-off by Wasem before they're machine gunned down by his Ukrainian enforcer and a briefcase full of money flutters into the wind. "I guess most of you must have thought that one day it would end like this..." Mickey croaks straight to camera. Cut to titles.


Of course this is Hustle. Does it really end with the gang's death in a shower of lead, or have they something up their sleeves?


The answer to that is the only thing we're forbade to reveal by the BBC Previews Unit (really, they'd maim us if we did - they're ruthless bastards). Everything else is a-okay to go. So by now you're probably aware that Jaime Murray, missing from Hustle action since 2007, is back as Stacie Monroe. When the gang meet her again, they're in the midst of conning Wasem, and so, it seems, is she, by posing as an American financial advisor.


One jolly Eddie's Bar reunion later and Stacie's back in the gang again, for one last 10 million quid scam. But while Mickey wants to see this through, the others have jitters. "We've never dealt with anyone like this before," says Emma, and you wonder if this season's parade of dumb-ass jokesters were only in place to make Wasem look extra badass.


Triumphant farewell in the final episode of Hustle

There doesn't appear to be much interest in resolving some of those bubbling character arcs, so no, Mickey doesn't finally walk off, sunset-bound, with Stacy (remember that?) or indeed get it on with Emma (that flirtation lasted about a series). Eddie doesn't get his tab paid and nobody pairs off with anyone else. Everyone leaves as they entered, which is as it should be in Hustle-land.


Our emotional defences are usually down with final episodes. We're ready to take a tear for a programme we've watched for a chunk of an era and most last episodes are shameless in milking it. But Hustle's mission for its final ep is simply to excite.


The very last scene has Mickey and the gang back in Eddie's Bar for one last drink and a cool, post-modern nod to (one of) Robert Vaughn's most famous roles. And off they go, out the door, and off the set. Hustle occasionally broke the fourth wall, but it never went as far as acknowledging its own fiction. Maybe that was the gang's greatest con, that they never were real grifters after all...


Steve O'Brien


Click here for Hustle's first episode from 2004:




Hustle season 8 episode 6
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