When last we met, Montreal Thunder U-21 was basking in the glory of their first home game of the new season thanks to a last-minute goal by James Tran (Jonathan Kim).
This week’s episode of 21 Thunder saw the team preparing for their first road trip to Philadelphia.
Former gang member turned pro soccer player, Nolan Gallard (RJ Fetherstonhaugh), had several hoops to jump through this episode. Having reconnected last week with his gang brother “Special K” (Kyle Mac), this week K called in past debts. He asked Nolan to mule 50k of ecstasy from a drop point he would arrange in Philadelphia. Nolan, knowing all he stood to lose, tried to back out, and deliberately lost his spot on the trip. However, using the video they captured from last week’s deal gone bad, K’s boys made it crystal clear that not going was not an option for Nolan. Nolan turned to Coach Rocas (Conrad Pla) and appealed to his “kinder and gentler” side, earning himself a second chance. Rocas’ decision proved beneficial to the team as Nolan scored the game-winning goal on the road trip. Just before returning to Montreal, Nolan took the drop but obviously had a change of heart; Nolan got smart! But how is he going to avoid K and his boys now?
Meanwhile, Christy (Stephanie Bennett)—Thunder’s first female coach—was still having trouble balancing the pressures in her life. Her brother Peter (Chris Cavener), has taken full advantage of Christy’s presence and abdicated all but the bare minimum of responsibility for their difficult mother’s care. The severity of Grace Cook’s (Susan Bain) condition was driven home with her disappearance when Christy was late to take over supervision from her brother. In her effort to care for her, Christy missed the team bus to Philadelphia and needed to find her own way to the match. Once there, Christy again butted heads with Rocas and earned herself a ban from the bench.
We also learned more about new midfielder, Ivory Coast’s Junior Lolo (Emmanuel Kabongo) and his back story. Having secured a life in Montreal for himself and his younger brother, Sly (Thamela Mpumlwana), Junior contracted an agent Joseph Bamba (Clauter Alexandre) to find their other missing brother. Spotting an easy mark, the agent coerced an extra five grand out of Junior to speed up the job. Was it me or does it look like little brother Sly is on to Mr. Bamba? Junior also began to carve out a niche for himself, wagering—and winning—a hilltop run up Mont Royal against team veteran Stefan Arnaud (Kevin Claydon). Whether this proves a healthy competition, we have yet to see.
As well, this week saw the introduction of team physiotherapist/med student Lara Yun (Eileen Yi, Kim’s Convenience) and the underground world of booking. Lacking sufficient funds, and having been cut off by her father, she begins to learn her way around game fixing and international sports betting courtesy of Zhen (Anthony Shim) and her insider knowledge of the team.
We closed the episode just as Nolan finally arrived to pay a visit to his incarcerated father, Declan Gallard (Colm Feore), but we are left to wonder if Nolan is asking for his father’s assistance with “Special K.”
I have to admit, I am disappointed with how little Feore has been used thus far. Yes, it is only Episode 2, but clearly he is one of the most recognized actors on the program and we have seen next to nothing from him. I truly hope this is merely a device to build suspense and we actually get to see more than these stoic glares in weeks to come.
Despite the couple of weaknesses I mentioned, this was overall a great episode. The story lines are moving forward at a nice clip and we are gradually learning more about additional characters. Notwithstanding the varied storylines, I am finding most of them believable in this urban setting, and I am enjoying how they are twisting upon each other as they unfold. I especially love what Kyle Mac is bringing to the role of “Special K” and I am looking forward to seeing how team leader Alex el Haddadi’s (Andres Joseph) thread will take shape.
What are your thoughts on the episode? Leave your comments below.
21 Thunder airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC.