Click here for Part 2. Well, that finale certainly left you wanting more. Character metamorphoses, realisations, chases, tears, and tender moments: this is what needs to be taken away from the series.
As tense as the finale was, there was, sadly, little of our favourite couple Joseph and Lyudmilla. At least they have the honour of opening the episode in Lyudmilla’s home, where we are finally introduced to her beloved mother. As Lyudmilla hands her mother her medicine, she appears to have her recent tribulations written on her face. Her mother admits that as her daughter just got home, she should be looking after her, rather than the other way around. Lyudmilla’s responsibility towards her mother clearly weighs on her. She left Russia to earn enough money for her mother’s recovery and she’s back to her first step. This is interrupted by Joseph dressing in a suit (we’re back to suits now) in the living room; a pile of folded sheets confirms that he slept on the sofa. Mama Nikolayeva is clearly happy to let her daughter’s rescuer and potential gentleman caller lodge with them in their cramped apartment. Well, that’s a good sign. When it’s apparent Joseph’s up to something, Lyudmilla activates her girlfriend mode already and asks where he’s going. In typical boyfriend fashion, Joseph doesn’t maintain eye contact with her and is vague. They’re there already. Joseph tells Lyudmilla to pass on his gratitude to her mother. At least he promises he’ll come back to see Lyudmilla.
As the storyline is then seized by Vadim’s vicious pursuit of Alex, we don’t get another scene with Lyudmilla or her mother until Joseph rescues Alex. As Mama Nikolayeva is eternally grateful to the two men for bringing her daughter back, they’re both made welcome. It doesn’t matter that dangerous criminals are hounding Alex and will stop at nothing. She looks on with affection as Alex and Joseph settle into the sofa, as well as expressing her gratitude when Alex thanks her for letting him stay. It’s a sweet moment that reminds Alex the human cost of criminal dealings, as does the scene in Lyudmilla’s bedroom. He’s reminded that every human caught up in his rapidly darkening world has a home and a family waiting for them. At this point, we wonder if Alex will resist the call to the dark side.
Alex gradually answers the call, culminating in his merciful execution of wounded Vadim. He takes up the position of leading gangster, albeit a new type of world criminal: educated, privileged and civilised. This call involves Joseph, of course, who is cornered by Lyudmilla once again to find out his plans. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. When her insinuations that Joseph doesn’t have to be at Alex’s beck and call fall flat, Lyudmilla reveals her parting gift. This is the cutest thing ever seen: an embroidered heart cushion with J and L on the face. AWWW. Joseph’s puppy eyes seal this as the best part of the episode. (This episode also marks Joseph’s first smile.) He’s too polite (in love) to speak ill of this cushion until she acknowledges that it didn’t turn out the way she intended. Finally, a kiss steeped in longing. The only pure element of McMafia. Rebecca and Alex are over. Alex’s parents are only held together by their deeds, and Katya has flirted with personal derailment. Joseph and Lyudmilla’s arc in this series has been the best. They’ve started off as a tentative alliance, which evolved into a comfortable friendship to a tenderness that could survive the immorality of Alex’s world, should Joseph remain by his side. As the final seconds of the episode depict Joseph cool-marching in slow motion with Alex, it’s clear that Joseph will continue to be his right-hand man. Having Lyudmilla in his life will buoy him as he follows Alex Godman into the murky pool.
If there’s a Series 2 (which will depend on the worldwide reception), this will most likely be the reaction of fans to Joseph and Lyudmilla’s next arc: