Great Pretender (Season 2): The Long Con – Netflix Review

One of my new favorite shows returns for a new season and a massive scheme.

SUMMARY (Spoilers for Season 1)

Makoto “Edamame” Edamura (Chiaki Kobayashi/Griffin Faulkner) is a small time con man who gets tricked by international major con-artist Laurent Thierry (Junichi Suwabe/Aaron Phillips). Chasing Laurent, Edamura ends up getting dragged into a scheme by Laurent and his team, consisting of the muscle Abigail Jones (Natsumi Fujiwara/Kausar Mohammed) and actress Cynthia Moore (Mie Sonozaki/Laura Post). The trio, now a quartet, work to scam money from the most evil people on the planet, often with the help of Edamame’s associate Kudo (Yōhei Tadano/Mike Pollock) and Laurent’s old friend Kim Si Won (Kujira/Karen Huie). Despite Edamura’s attempts to get out of working with the trio and to reform his life, he keeps getting dragged back in. Now, it turns out that Edamura’s new employers in his “honest” life are involved in international child slavery. The team reunites for one last score, as they say.

Guess which one keeps getting dragged back in?

END SUMMARY

When I first watched this show, I felt it had many of the same strengths as the show Leverage, but with the advantage of being able to spend multiple episodes on the same heist. There were only three total heists in the first season, which allowed them sufficient time to explore the characters and to show more of the work that is going into each of the cons. They all take place in new locations and with wildly different modi operandi, which continues to keep them interesting. The second season doubles down on that quite a bit by being only a single heist, just one that gets increasingly more and more complex as more players keep entering the story.

And the bad guy is fully prepared to kill anyone at all times.

A big thing is that, while two of the cases in the first season expanded on Abigail and Cynthia, this season gives us a deeper picture of the motivations behind Makoto and Laurent. As you would expect from a pair of criminals who seem to have strong internal moral codes, their backgrounds are extremely compelling. I particularly love the reveal of what drives Laurent, but Makoto’s story is the one that actually ends up continuing during the present narrative. 

I’m not sure how long ago the flashback is, but he’s got some 90s hair.

The other thing I really like about this season is that it posits that what the gang does is not just good for society, it’s actually good for their victims. Many of the people they steal from, or at least their families, seem to have become genuinely better people after they realize that the money and power that gave them immunity also led to their corruption. It turns out that the power cannot compensate for the feeling of a clean conscience. I’d like to believe that to be true, even for all of the powerful bastards out there.

Not that it stops them from seeking some payback.

Overall, still a good series. Check it out if you haven’t.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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