Shantaram (Season 1), Episodes 1, 2 & 3 Recap & Ending Explained: Apple TV+’s new show, ‘Shantaram’, is a show created by Eric Warren Singer and Steve Lightfoot, based on the 2003 novel of the same name, starring Charlie Hunnam in the lead role as Lin. The bestselling novel by Gregory David Roberts has remained a pet project of a number of Hollywood figures and studios, finally coming into fruition now as a television series which would seem like the best course of action with a tome.
Hunnam, as always, is endlessly watchable in what is otherwise an extremely Orientalist recreation of Bombay. That doesn’t take away from the fact that the show has been quite a brisk ride till now, especially the first episode, and its sumptuous visuals aid it greatly. What it will become remains to be seen but after the first three episodes, it certainly seems like an inviting and entertaining bit of escape at the end of the week.
Shantaram (Season 1), Episodes 1, 2 & 3 Recap:
Episode 1 – The Three Nos
In 1982, Dale is an inmate at Pentridge Prison. Everyone thinks of him as a snitch but he isn’t one and neither is willing to be. When a dangerous inmate he’s had a misunderstanding with is released from solitary confinement, he decides to escape along with his cellmate, Ned. Following the breakout, he goes to his professor’s house to ask for help. Seeing Dale as a man with potential who was misled, he provides him with some money. Dale takes it and arrives in Bombay, calling himself Lindsay Ford and posing as a New Zealander.
As an exciting, upcoming metropolis, Bombay offers Dale the perfect escape. He befriends Prabhu, a most insistent young hustler who acts as a guide for foreigners and who shortens his name from Lindsay to ‘Lin’. One day, he’s saved from a road accident by Karla, who he’s instantly smitten with. She invites him to Reynaldo’s, a bar that’s a haven for gangsters, pimps, and prostitutes. He meets one of Karla’s associates, a crook by the name of Didier Levy, and soon after, her friend, Lisa, along with a host of others. Lisa, a beautiful young American girl, is a prostitute working for Maurizio and Modena. Karla was once a translator for illegal business deals between criminals of the West and Bombay, after which she started getting involved in these businesses directly and from which she’s built up quite a life for herself.
One night, as he is walking back to his hotel after dropping Karla off at her place, Lin is hassled by a trio of policemen for breaking curfew. He hits one, snatches his passport back, and manages to escape them. The following morning, he decides to leave Bombay and Prabhu offers to take him to his village. Karla soon arrives to ask Lin for a favor. Lisa’s pimps sold her off to a brothel called The Palace, which Karla sees as an unsafe place. Karla managed to seek help from an official from the American embassy, Parker, to get her out by citing her rights as an American citizen but he left town and now she wants him to play the role of Parker. Madame Zhou, who runs The Palace, is a smart, powerful, and dangerous woman. Lin refuses because he doesn’t want to ruin his newfound freedom, which has already been threatened by the police encounter.
A man in the hotel he’s staying at overdoses on heroin and Lin tries to help him but Prabhu forces him away, stating it would lead to some terrible business with the police. With his conscience acting up, Lin goes to Karla and agrees to help. He dresses up in the suit of a man named Ahmed, who once lived in Karla’s house and is now dead. They go to The Palace where Madame Zhou doesn’t believe Lin to be a diplomat and they think their cover’s busted when Lin intimidates her by pretending to be an enforcer for the embassy. A scared Madame Zhou allows Lisa to leave, but not before saying to her that freeing Lisa won’t change what happened to Kristina and Ahmed.
Back at Karla’s place, Lin finds out that Karla broke Lisa out to extract information from her about some man, Rujul, which disgusts him as he thought it was a charitable endeavor. He also mentions how he noticed Zhou taking Ahmed’s name. As he’s leaving, Karla tells him that her intentions don’t override the good he did. As he’s walking back, Lin is accosted and robbed by a group of muggers in a lane, who are all certainly working for Madame Zhou. As he lies there, he reflects on how that night’s events would affect the lives of everyone he knew, friend and foe, in the future.
Episode 2 – Down and Out
In a flashback, Lin goes to meet a former associate of his, Charlie. He owed him money since Lin held back information from the authorities that would’ve landed him in jail. Charlie also is the one who gave Lin his fake passport and a new identity.
In the present day, a beaten-up Lin is helped by a policeman who accompanies him to his hotel after he refuses to go to the hospital. Prabhu, who’s at the reception, gets Lin out of his room secretly realizing that this officer will ask for a bribe, and given that Lin’s money has been robbed and his passport taken, he’ll surely land in jail. Prabhu takes him to his shack in the Sagar Wada slum. There, the two men bond over food, whiskey, and cannabis. Lin is still troubled by nightmares about his treatment back in the prison in Australia.
At Karla’s place, Lisa tells her that Rujul Aadekar was there at the Palace with Walid Shah. The two were celebrating Walid Shah’s successful bid to Rujul, for acquiring Sagar Wada. She also accuses Karla of being selfish in getting her out as this information was essential for her and her associate, Abdel Khader Khan. At the same time, she’s thankful to Karla for having gotten her out as the other girl who witnessed the deal is now dead.
The following morning, Prabhu tries to get Lin to agree to become partners with him in his tourist business but the latter refuses and leaves after thanking him for his favor the previous night. He goes to Karla’s place where she coldly refuses to help him and leaves. Lisa, who’s there and going through heroin withdrawal, is helped by Lin in the struggle. He was introduced to heroin by a girl back in Australia and they planned to come to India after saving up money to indulge in their vice. He is no longer an addict but misses heroin every day.
Karla goes to Abdel Khadar Khan, a local crime boss, and offers to tell him what she knows. We find out that he has done a lot for her and yet Karla doesn’t owe her anything as he did it all for her out of love. Karla passes on Lisa’s information about Walid Shah buying the land from Rujul that they’d been eyeing. She also tells him about Lin and assures him that he doesn’t know enough but Khader isn’t convinced.
Lin goes to Reynaldo’s and tries to buy a passport from Didier who tells him that the man who can do that, Khader, is a local Vito Corleone and will charge a hefty amount that he doesn’t have. Lin tries to peddle what he knows about Rujul being at The Palace and kicks up a row but Didier sharply refuses to help with that, seeming terrified of the information and only telling Lin that Rujul is a politician. Lin then goes over to Maurizio and Modena’s table, who are sitting there, and tries to get help from them but they too refuse. Modena, though, seems genuinely concerned for Lisa’s well-being. Modena goes over to meet Lisa and confesses his love for her.
Khader Bhai invites Rujul to his place and tells him that he knows about his betrayal. He also asks him why Rujul did so, after all the financial help he’s provided to his political career. Rujul states that Khader Bhai’s morality code, because of which he isn’t involved in the brown sugar and sex business, has made him irrelevant. Khader Bhai stabs and kills Rujul.
Lin goes back to Prabhu in Sagar Wada and through his help, calls Charlie and asks for money but Charlie states that he owes him nothing and refuses too. A frustrated Lin decides to take up Prabhu’s offer of hustling tourists together and in their first deal, they get marijuana for a trio of foreigners. Karla comes to meet him and pays him a thousand dollars, just the amount he needs for a new passport, to keep him quiet about what he knows.
Lin is quietly leaving Prabhu’s place who catches him in the act. Lin asks for forgiveness, which Prabhu offers, and the two men part on good terms as the latter tells him that he’s a good man. Just as he is leaving the Sagar Wada slum, a henchman comes to attack him. Lin thinks it’s another one of Zhou’s goons and tries to make peace but a fight breaks out in which he ends up lighting half of the slum on fire. Lin is about to escape for good after beating the fellow up but his conscience doesn’t let him, so he goes to help the people put out the fire he himself started. Back at Karla’s place, Lisa and Karla dance together and Lisa admits to loving her, having looked up to her a lot in the past in wanting to be like her.
Episode 3 – Strange Bedfellows
The fire spreads all over Sagar Wada as Lin tries to help. Once it has been quelled with great difficulty, Lin starts to provide medical help for all the victims. The head of the slum, Qasim, though a well-meaning figure, refuses to send for doctors and hospitals and cannot provide any medical resources because they don’t have the means to procure any. During this, Prabhu’s neighbor Lakshmi is brought in with a serious injury. Lin knows she needs to be taken to a hospital but Qasim is adamant about not allowing it. Lin desperately tries to save her life but fails. He blames herself for his death though Prabhu tries to alleviate his guilt.
He recollects a bank robbery he carried out with Charlie. As they were on the run after taking the money, Lin came across a policeman with whom he got into a scuffle. Charlie intervened by shooting the policeman dead and running off. Lin, instead of joining him, stays back and tries to help the policeman but can’t and is arrested right away.
The following morning, people queue up outside Prabhu’s house, hoping to get medical help from Lin. He is reluctant to offer it at first and wants to run away with the money he has. But he decides against it, instead giving away all the money he got from Karla to Qasim so that he can get him medical supplies and aid the reconstruction of burnt-down houses. Lin also acts as Prabhu’s wingman when his crush, Parvati, brings Lin some tea and snacks. At Karla’s place, she is stricken by the guilt of having gotten Rujul murdered owing to her business with Khader. To take her mind off of it, Lisa implores her to stay back that day so they can have fun together and she can feel better. Karla agrees.
Khader goes to meet Walid. The former proposes to maintain the peace but the latter, seeing himself as a radical wanting to uproot the status quo, refuses to give in. He even mocks Khader as a dinosaur and refuses to give up his quest for Sagar Wada. Khader then goes to The Palace and threatens to close down Madame Zhou’s business and kill her, reminding her that the only reason she can operate it is that he allows it, in exchange for her neutrality. He then asks her to strictly obey him from then on. When Madame Zhou asks him if he got his information from Karla, Khader denies knowing her. She decides to not obey him nonetheless and asks Maurizio to sell brown sugar in Colaba, which is Khader’s territory and a business he is strictly opposed to, just like prostitution.
Khader arrives in Sagar Wada to speak to Lin, who nervously gets into his car with the reassurance that no harm will come to him. Khader gives him an example of his influence and largesse by promising to help a man facing a problem with his landlord. Khader evidently takes a liking to Lin and takes him to a club where they get high and discuss whether reality is an illusion or not, with Khader believing it is and Lin not so. A ghazal performance there deeply moves Lin. Karla is also at the club and she’s surprised to see Lin with Khader. She walks up to him to ask him why he hasn’t left Bombay and in the process, Lin introduces her to Khader (Khader and Karla pretend to be strangers in the outside world).
Shantaram (Season 1), Episode 3 Ending, Explained:
After a car arrives outside Karla’s house, Lisa decides to leave, already disappointed at being abandoned by her for the night despite saying she wouldn’t. She leaves her key in the mail slot. Karla finds it on arriving and is saddened by Lisa’s departure. Lin is dropped at Sagar Wada by Khader and the two men become friends.
There, he runs into Ravi, Lakshmi’s son, who blames Lin for his mother’s death. Lin accepts the blame and offers himself to be killed by him, which he is about to do when Qasim stops him. Qasim decides to take Ravi into his own family and gives Lakshmi’s hut to Lin but also tells him that it isn’t a gift but a place where anyone who needs his help, can find him.