Skip to main content

'Guilt' Recap: Season 3 Episode 1

Daniel Hautzinger
Max and Jake look startled in a dark barn
Jake and Max once again find themselves in danger. Credit: Expectation, Happy Tramp North, BBC, and Masterpiece

Guilt airs Sundays at 9:00 pm and is available to stream. Recap the previous and following episodes and previous seasons.
Keep up with your favorite dramas and mysteries by signing up for our newsletter, Dramalogue.

The world of Guilt is small: everyone is always involved in each other’s business. Max McCall has joined his brother Jake in Chicago, where they are bleeding money running a pub. Max lives above the pub with some mice for roommates, while Jake lives with his girlfriend, Angie, with whom he first connected when she posed as the niece of a man Jake accidentally killed with his car back in Edinburgh. While Jake is fine with a “bohemian” lifestyle, Angie is working retail by night and studying for a degree by day, and she’s begun to think that Jake is dragging her down. Just look at the 500 fezzes languishing in their apartment that he bought for miscalculated “Turkish Mondays” at the pub. She wants to break up, but Jake promises he’ll find a way to change their circumstances.

He assumes that Max has some plan for when the pub fails, probably at Jake’s expense. But Max insists there’s no good way forward; he can’t return to Edinburgh because the crime boss Maggie Lynch blames him for her husband Roy’s death and the ruination of her grand schemes.

Nevertheless, Jake decides to crack the safe where Max keeps his account books, guessing the combination as 1981 – the year their father left their family. He finds documents showing that Max has fraudulently raised $300,000 with the pub as collateral and kept it in an account under Jake’s name. If he’s caught, Jake would take the fall; otherwise, Max can take the money and slip away.

Jake shows the documents to Angie, and he and she go confront Max at the pub. Max insists that he was going to tell Jake once the scheme had borne fruit and then split the money – he feared Jake would mess things up if he knew. Now, neither brother will get to enjoy the money: Angie, knowing that Max is a master manipulator of Jake, has cut her losses and taken the money while also calling immigration on the brothers. Neither has a visa to work in the States. They are deported to Edinburgh.

When they arrive in Scotland, they are pulled aside by customs because of Max’s criminal record. Max is eager to flee Edinburgh before Maggie Lynch finds out he’s back, so the delay is unwelcome. He uses his one phone call to contact his erstwhile business partner, Kenny, who’s still running the small firm he set up with Max. Kenny immediately hangs up.

Kenny does talk to Max briefly when Jake calls and hands the phone back to Max. Kenny simply explains to Max that he’s trying to have kids with his partner, the policewoman Yvonne, and that he doesn’t need any stress. That’s both of the McCalls’ phone calls wasted.

Other people closer to Kenny need his support, anyway. His sister asks him to help his niece, Skye, who’s in a bit of trouble. Kenny wants Skye to be the first in the family to graduate college, which she’s attending now, but to help pay the bills she has turned to selling weed, which is not yet legal in Scotland. She was being supplied by her mom’s new boyfriend, Big Al, but it turns out that Big Al was spending the profits instead of sending them on to his supplier. So he set Skye to try to intimidate his contacts out of pressuring him for the twenty thousand he owes.

Skye donned a mascot’s cat head to hide her face, took a gun given to her by Big Al, raised it at a gang of young men, and fired. But nothing happened – Big Al gave her a fake weapon. So she had to instead flee the men she was trying to intimidate, making it back to her mother’s flat safely. Big Al insisted that the men wouldn’t come into the flat, but Skye didn’t believe it and fled to a nearby roof. She watched from there as they grabbed Big Al and threw him over the balcony of the building to his death. The gang’s leader, Danny, calmly told Skye’s mom to warn Skye that he would be back before leaving. Indeed, he later meets Skye and tells her that the debt is now hers to bear.

Skye doesn’t want to involve Kenny, but he insists that she show him Danny and his gang. Watching them receive a bag from a man on a street corner and then surreptitiously selling weed from it, he promises Skye to find out to whom she owes money – because it’s not them.

Indeed, the man who delivered the bag works with some familiar characters. Among them is Teddy, Max’s terrifying prison cellmate who tracked down Roy Lynch for being behind the death of his brother and presumably killed the crime boss. They’re growing pure organic weed of a much higher quality than most street marijuana – it will be ready to be sold aboveground as soon as weed is legalized. But the nighttime traffic at their rural facility has attracted attention. When a policeman arrives asking questions, Teddy tells him to come back with a warrant.

But Teddy’s not the one behind the operation. That would be Maggie – and her presumed dead husband Roy. Maggie avoided prison by pretending to have dementia, while Roy evaded a vengeful murder by Teddy because he knew Teddy’s father. And they have time-tested ways to keep the police from visiting.

Maggie visits their old associate Stevie, who has been demoted to community policeman, and asks him to tell the cop who visited her facility to avoid it because there’s an active investigation into it. She knows that Stevie still has a gambling problem, and offers him the name of a horse that will win an upcoming race – if he makes the call.

Instead, Stevie goes to his old colleague Yvonne and offers her the address of the facility in exchange for a good word that might pull him back into higher ranks in the police.

How do Max and Jake get involved with all this? The customs official at the airport suddenly releases them, saying he doesn’t have jurisdiction, and leads them straight to a waiting van. That van brings them to the Lynches’ marijuana facility, where Roy orders a henchman to kill them both. Before he can, cameras show that the police are descending on the facility, thanks to Yvonne and Stevie. Roy orders Teddy to bring Maggie to safety while he sets off in a car and leaves his man to kill the McCalls.

Maggie and Teddy manage to disappear while Roy draws the attention of the police and is eventually surrounded. He gets out of his car, announces who he is, reaches inside his coat, and shoots himself dead. Stevie tells Yvonne this could make her career and asks her not to forget him. She says it could also ruin her career, and promises to keep his help in mind.

Meanwhile, Max tries to talk down the henchman. Jake grabs some chemical spray from the barn they’re in and sprays the man in the eyes. The McCalls flee, crawling through mud to avoid the police. In a nearby forest, they take the van of a man who gets out to go to the bathroom. As they drive away, Max tells Jake that if he wants out, now’s the time to go. Jake doesn’t respond, but only asks where they’re going. The only place we can, Max responds.

There’s one final character who’s new to the mix: Sir Jim Sturrock, who has just opened a community center in hardscrabble Leith, where he, Kenny, the McCalls, and the Lynches all grew up. On a phone call, he says, “It’s over. Let’s do the deal. Let’s do it quick.”