Guts, glory, revenge and dishonour; so is life in the gritty underworld of Naples in Gomorrah.
The third season of the outstanding Italian crime drama series Gomorrah opens in a strange position. After a truly rip-roaring second series, many of the principal characters are dead and buried. In a lot of ways, the previous season’s closer felt like the natural conclusion to the story of friends turned enemies turned allies once more Genny (Salvatore Esposito) and Ciro (Marco D’Amore). And yet, here we are again for another turbulent year of trials and tribulations with our anti-heroes. We pick up with Genny at the pinnacle of his game, his father dead by the hand of Ciro under his orders, his crime empire finally in place and his wife and son by his side. Ciro, on the other hand, has taken somewhat of a backwards career move, moving from murder and drug running to human trafficking in Bulgaria. This is the lowest he’s reached, a shell of his former self, having been dragged through the moral blender. But it won’t be long before Genny is brought down to his level, stripped of his power and thrown back to where his climb to the top began, Secondigliano. Thankfully so as well, as the show feels far more confident with its characters as underdogs on the rise through the ranks than with them lording over proceedings. For all of its escalating scale and scope, it knows that it’s strongest at the street level of the criminal underworld.
It’s this pushing of the reset button which realigns his and Ciro’s paths, setting them on course to rebuilding their empire and repairing their brotherhood. Brotherhood and family here becoming the core themes, not just with Genny and Ciro’s ever-fascinating relationship, but also with new character Enzo (Arturo Muselli) and his burgeoning bond with his newly acquired mentor Ciro. Whilst Ciro and Enzo’s sense of brotherhood grows, at the same time Genny is forced into a corner that threatens to unravel all they’ve worked to build, creating a push and pull dynamic which acts as the thrust for the second half of the season, all bubbling up nicely into a melting pot of bloodshed, betrayal and unlimited amounts of tension. It’s the latter two-thirds of the season that highlight the show’s strengths the best, the plot unravelling like a well-played hand of poker (Marco D’Amore, in particular, having perfected his poker face). The first chunk of episodes, however, have to do much of the legwork in introducing the multitude of new characters and establishing the new status quo. There are lots of fresh pieces to the jigsaw, and it just takes a few instalments for each to fall into place before things start ramping up again.
Once they do though, Gomorrah never looks back, hitting its swaggering and staggeringly well written, shot and performed best in time for the finale. While Marco D’Amore does an excellent job of portraying Ciro’s quietly concealed inner-turmoil, and Salvatore Esposito brings a subtle level of vulnerability and emotional complexity to Genny that we’ve not seen previously, it’s ambitious newcomer, ‘Blue Blood’ Enzo with his moped riding upstart gang who drives the narrative forward with purpose thanks to Arturo Muselli’s terrific performance which marks out Enzo as the most relatable of the show’s characters. Which works to make his final act of the season even more compelling. Whilst the path which Gomorrah leads down has an air of inevitability, the circumstances which surround it come as a wholly unexpected gut punch. It’s like being struck by an emotional battering ram.
Rating (out of 5):
‘Gomorrah – The Series’ Season 3 and ‘Gomorrah – The Series’ Season 1-3 are released on DVD & Blu-ray on Monday 12th March by Arrow TV.