Kin Review: Charlie Cox Stuns In A Slow-Burning Crime Drama About Loss And Consequences

AMC+'s "Kin," as its title suggests, is about family. An Irish family, specifically. An Irish crime family who live in Dublin and happen to run a drug dealing operation, to be more precise. It's understandable if you think this setup sounds a little bit like "The Sopranos;" all you have to do is switch out a couple of words and you'd have an accurate, albeit incomplete, description of the HBO show.

This description, however, doesn't scratch the surface of what either series explores. In the case of "Kin," the show is an epic tragedy, an exploration of how love and grief are entwined, how a horrific loss can shape you into someone else. A before and after. It's also about how such grief can twist and warp the family as a whole, and start an avalanche that will impact much more than a family's personal relationships. The series' co-creators — Peter McKenna and Ciarán Donnelly — succeed in conveying these themes within the packaging of a slow-burning crime drama.

The core of "Kin" are the Kinsellas. There are the two brothers — Michael (Charlie Cox) and Jimmy (Emmett J. Scanlan) — who have a strong bond and a complex history. There's Jimmy's wife, Amanda (Clare Dunne), who loves her sons. And there's Frank (Aidan Gillen), the head of the family whose son, Eric (Sam Keeley), is more hotheaded than smart. Rounding out the core family is the matriarch Bridget "Birdy" Goggins, played by the venerable Maria Doyle Kennedy and Eric's girlfriend, Nikita Murphy (Yasmin Seky).

Similar to many family dramas, the Kinsellas have secrets and make impulsive decisions that lead to misunderstandings that result in an unexpected loss. That loss leads to retaliation, and the Kinsellas make choices (or are compelled to make a choice) to do things they know are wrong. They do them, however, because it is right for the family — the whole rather than the individual. Except, of course, when it's not.

"You Have No Idea What You Started"

Grief is an isolating thing, even among the survivors who love each other. At its fundamental level, "Kin" is about how each character reacts to the trauma of such a loss — the show gives almost every Kinsella enough time and room to express that grief. This makes "Kin" an ensemble piece, although certain characters — and maybe not the ones you're expecting — move to the forefront as the season progresses.

The show touches on other dynamics as well. There's the role women play in this patriarchal world — off to the side but influencing power in ways the men are just beginning to fully appreciate. And the acting is outstanding, particularly Cox's Michael, a stoic man recently released from prison with a maelstrom of emotions roiling just beneath the surface.

The Kinsellas are also not the only family explored in "Kin." The show also delves into the familial ties of Eamon Cunningham (Ciarán Hinds), Dublin's drug lord that butts heads with the Kinsellas' relatively small-fry operation. As the season progresses, we see an unexpected side of Cunningham, which — admittedly having only seen six of the first eight episodes — seems to be too long of a detour from the core story.

In "Kin," no one can go back to how they were before, and who they become after has myriad implications, making for a solid drama series.

"Kin" will premiere September 9, 2021 exclusively on AMC+. The remaining episodes of the eight-episode series will continue to debut on AMC+ weekly on Thursdays.