Directed by Aneil Karia, The Gold (2023) initially starts with a thrilling pace but gradually loses its excitement after the third episode. The series, based on true events at Heathrow Trading Estate, attempts to delve into the psychology of the crime, even if it falls short in that aspect.
However, it does a good job in showing how greed can lead simple people to aspire for something extraordinary, and it raises questions about where such aspirations can ultimately take them.
The Gold (2023) Paramount+ Limited Series Recap:
Episode 1: To Be a King
You’re worth 26 million euros in gold in 1983. There is no crypto-currency, no digitization of money, no internet surveillance whatsoever. What do you do? You end up in the hands of someone who can handle you; not the government, but someone who can actually take good care of you, love you the way you want to be loved, even pamper you at times. You hand yourself over to someone who wants to be the king of the world, who knows when to take the leap of faith.
On a regular morning of November 26th, workers at Brink’s-Mat Secure Storage of Heathrow Trading Estate are spending their time with coffee and good vibes. A group of six armed men enters the scene and asks them to open the vault where millions of pounds worth of foreign currency are kept. They threaten the guards by mentioning where they live.
One of the guards, Ralph Turner, forgets the combination to the vault. The leader of the robbers understands that the guards are planning to delay the process so that they can bring outside help. He doesn’t know his fail-safe option; until the moment he sees something; something that isn’t supposed to be lying outside the vault; something that is better than what’s inside the vault. He sees tons of gold bullion. The robbers leave the place without even opening the vault, taking away all the gold bullions.
Approximately 26 million euros in 1983, if taken away from the market, can make the whole economic structure shut down. So, it is obvious that the authorities are going to place someone who has a brilliant record in the field of communication with the criminals.
Who is better than Brian Boyce, someone who has shown his brilliance in counter-terrorism throughout his whole career? He wants to be the head of counter-terrorism but ends up leading the ‘Flying Squad,’ a special task force who has recently rejected the Brink’s Mat case. This, however, intrigues Brian, and he decides to go through with the case.
He meets with DI Nicki Jennings and Tony Brightwell, two of the officers from the Flying Squad who have been to the crime scene. Brian asks them to bring over the case files, and when they want to join his squad to chase the robbers, Brian asks them a simple question, sort of checking their eligibility. He asks them to tell him one important clue that is not written in the files they are here to submit. Nicki and Tony are bright officers and they tell him that they suspect one of the guards named Wright, who may be involved with the robbers.
Brian likes it and brings Wright for questioning. There, without uttering the name, his reactions suggest one name, Micky McAvoy. They search Micky’s house without putting his name on the warrant list. Micky is caught on the second attempt and is brought in for identification. Wright identifies Micky and one of his men. Brian manipulates Micky into giving up the gold; he gives up the place where he has hidden the gold. Brian and his team go to the storage house where the three tons of gold are kept.
Brian thinks since the robbers are from the streets, and he has handled tier-1 terrorists, this is an easy job. Well, it would have been if Micky didn’t involve Kenneth Noye to shift the gold. Before getting caught, Micky is planning to turn the gold into cash with Kenneth. Kenneth is known to be a builder; however, he knows how to turn gold into cash. Seeing this much gold at once, he decides that he will make sure that he gets a hold of it. He contacts two people. One his friend, and the other one, a highly respected solicitor.
Kenneth’s friend, John Palmer, is a gold trader whose job is to make the gold sold to the market. It will, however, have more manpower in the upcoming episodes. Anyway, the interesting factor is the second person Kenneth meets via Gordon Parry. This person has multiple marriages, is keen to earn more money and knows every loose end of the law. We are introduced to Edwyn Cooper, who is going to be the right-hand man of Kenneth Noye. Edwyn will be tasked with making the gold money clean.
So, when Brian reaches the storage, he finds no gold in there. Micky calls Kenneth to tell him that he has given up on the gold but by that time, Kenneth tells him that the gold is not there. He has taken control of the gold as he is very much ready to move the gold into the market and get rich. The gold ends up in the hands of Kenneth Noye, who is about to cause Brian a lot of problems.
Episode 2: There’s Something Going on in Kent
This episode revolves around recruitment and the execution of the chain of command. Kenneth, John, and Edwin are now working closely together to build a team that can assist them in their process. So, what exactly is the process? You have 27 million in gold bullions, but how do you transform them into money? The process follows a meticulously designed structure that is revealed in front of the police by Archie Osborne, an employee of the Gold and Precious Metals Division at Customs.
Archie is the person who provides the Special Task Force with crucial information about a smelter, which proves to be very valuable. He informs them that if the robbers want to introduce the gold bullions into the market, their first step would be to remove the serial numbers from them. To do this, they need to acquire a smelter. The police discover recent smelter booking activity in Kent, and they follow the buyer closely. However, the police lose track of it due to a train, a clever move by Kenneth.
Meanwhile, we see Kenneth instructing his crew to invest wisely because he doesn’t want the plan to unravel due to one team member’s dream of buying a Mercedes. Micky is still in jail, and he demands two homes for his two ex-wives and his present wife. He says that he will accept the 25-year prison sentence if Kenneth agrees to provide him with the two homes. Edwyn somehow manages to pull this off, and everyone is happy.
Edwyn buys a flat for himself, leading to a confrontation with his wife. But Edwyn has become a changed man now. He no longer wants to rely on his father-in-law’s money and believes he can become a millionaire as well. He even recruits Sienna Rose, a real estate agent, to work for him and look for cash purchases that he can sell.
Edwyn doesn’t know how to swim, but since he is achieving the impossible, he tries to go underwater. He struggles to last for more than a minute, but somehow in the middle of that period, he gathers the courage to continue. Edwyn is set to play a crucial role in the upcoming episodes.
On the other hand, Kenneth and John begin to doubt everyone around them because they are the leaders of the operation, and it is important for them to be cautious of any potential threats. Meanwhile, Nickin and Tony go to different places to establish a connection between the stolen gold and Kenneth Noye. Brian is aware of Kenneth’s high-profile criminal status but also knows that apprehending Kenneth will be challenging, as he is protected by the authorities.
Kenneth learns about the Special Task Force pursuing him, led by Brian Boyce. The conversation between Kenneth and John suggests that Kenneth has known Brian for quite a while now, understanding that Brian cannot be manipulated, and he won’t stop until he catches them. John says that they won’t give up, and Kenneth agrees. A race between the law and the criminals begins.
Now, let’s delve into the part where Archie Osborne describes the process. How does he know? Well, he learns about a man who flew from England to Jersey two months ago and purchased 11 gold bars from one bank, leaving them in another bank before flying back. This may seem like a regular con game, but Osborne unravels the screenplay behind this elaborate scheme.
Although he doesn’t use names, we will for clarity. He explains that the gold is entrusted to a party (Kenneth) who needs to deliver it to someone (John) capable of disguising the gold. The first challenge for the initial party (Kenneth) is to remove the serial numbers and any trace of movement.
Here is where the smelter comes into play, along with the purchase of 11 gold bars. With access to the smelter, there is no issue disguising the Brink Mat’s gold bullions. By obtaining receipts for the 11 gold bars, they can mix Brink Mat’s gold bars with them and make the delivery accordingly.
However, Brink Mat’s gold is too pure to be sold directly on the market. Therefore, they (John) need to blend it with other gold jewelry. To achieve this, they establish a cover story: John opens a street shop named Scadlynn Gold Merchants, where he purchases jewelry from others. He melts these jewelry pieces together with Brink Mat’s gold bars to create a new gold bar.
Because the gold they are producing is too pure for scrap jewelry, they require someone to serve as a registered gold importer. This person’s role is to provide them with fabricated importation paperwork. Following this step, they take the gold for certification by an assay, thanks to the paperwork. The assay is only concerned with the quality of the gold, and once it is hallmarked, the gold is fit for sale.
Now, where can you sell a gold bar? Who buys gold bullion? How about Brink’s Mat themselves? In Britain, there are only four bullion sellers, and one of them is Johnson Matthey, the owner of Brink’s Mat. So, in simple terms, Brink’s Mat is essentially buying back their own gold for millions of dollars. It’s a brilliant scheme, isn’t it? Just wait until you learn how they make the money disappear.
Here enters a man who understands tax and its loopholes. We know who he is, even if Brian doesn’t, not at this moment. So, the merchant pays for the gold, and when a bank observes a small company withdrawing a substantial sum of money, they generally don’t report it. It’s beneficial for the bank until they get caught. But do they keep all that money? Not much, and here lies the problem.
They invest the money in new homes or apartments, or whatever suits their needs. But how do they do it? The primary amount is concealed through a secret bank account, set up somewhere in Europe, thanks to Edwyn, of course. This bank account covers expenses for a front company, which further obscures the money trail. Through this front company, they make investments. After these layers of transactions, tracking the money becomes virtually impossible. So, yes, the money vanishes as well.
Brian is now more determined than ever to catch Kenneth, as Osborne informs the Task Force that they have only a maximum of two months. What happens in two months? We are about to witness a race of a lifetime between Brian and Kenneth.
Episode 3: The Consequences Are Mine
Nothing much happens in this episode until the very end. We see Brian trying to set up surveillance outside Kenneth’s house so that he can follow where he sends the Gold Bars. Through this, they successfully get to know about John. Kenneth tries to protect the rest of the chain, but Brian has the resources and manpower. It is almost impossible for Kenneth to win the race against Brian.
Brian sends Osborne to check John’s paperwork, and there he discovers that in the importation paper, it is mentioned that they are buying gold from somewhere in Sierra Leone in West Africa. Brian then sends Nicki and Tony to Sierra Leone, and now they are closing in to break the chain. However, they are still far away from catching Edwyn.
Edwyn is almost on the verge of divorcing his wife and planning to move to France with Sienna Rose. He doesn’t know much about what Brian is up to; he doesn’t even know how close Brian is to catching the whole chain. But his instincts are suggesting that he go far from the chaos, and he is going to follow that. He also comes from the street and knows when to run away from a certain mess. Edwyn still has a significant role to play. We will get to that in the next episodes.
Where does Kenneth hide all the gold? Well, there is an interesting fact about the place that Kenneth owns. The area is almost 20 acres, and there are three underground bunkers used by Intelligence Agents during the time of the war. In 1945, the government officially sealed those bunkers, but Brian suspects that if Kenneth has found them, he must have hidden the gold bars inside of them. Now, to catch them, they just need to worry about where it goes from Kenneth’s place.
So, the day finally arrives when it is time to catch the whole chain one by one. Apart from the team waiting outside Reader’s house and the man who delivers gold bars from Kenneth’s place to John’s, there are four other surveillance teams waiting outside the four places.
One at Kenneth’s place, another at John’s, the third outside John’s shop, and the fourth waits outside the importation office. They all break in together, and Brian finally sees Kenneth in cuffs. John, however, is not found. But if this is a relay race, Brian has won the first set. Or has he?
Does Kenneth plan to get caught so that the main men, John and Edwyn, can escape? Or are Brian’s actions not calculated at all for him? We will see that in the next episode.
Episode 4: Vengeance Is Easy, Justice Is Hard
Episode 4 clears up all the doubts episode 3 leaves. Here, we see that Kenneth actually stabs one of the policemen and is now charged with murder. Brian asks for patience from his team as everyone is furious about the death of one of their own men. They want to kill Kenneth without knowing the consequences. However, Brian assures them that revenge is easy, getting Kenneth to justice is the path they have all chosen and it shall remain so.
News spreads around pretty fast, and John Palmer, along with Edwyn and the rest of the crew, is now aware of the situation. John decides to stay in Tenerife in Spain as returning home will surely put him behind bars. Edwyn travels with Gordon Parry to meet someone as they need to move the money from Switzerland to Liechtenstein so that the police cannot get hold of it. Meanwhile, when brought to the court of justice, Kenneth pleads not guilty, and we move 6 months forward to the hearing date.
Not much happens in these months; however, Nicki and Tony find out how to trace the money. They learn from an employee of the bank from which John’s man withdrew the money that since all the notes were in bills of 50, they start with the same serial number. They start searching for the money, and meanwhile, Kenneth gets bail from the court.
Kenneth has a good lawyer who helps the jury consider the whole scenario as an action conducted in self-defense. The jury even witnessed the same circumstances and they feel that Kenneth, without knowing he had encountered a policeman, acted in self-defense, resulting in the death of the policeman. However, Brian isn’t ready to let him off the hook, so he again charges him with the conspiracy to keep Brink’s Mat’s gold bullions.
Kenneth is again back in jail. John Palmer is thinking of buying disputed land in Spain. Edwyn is realizing that his escape routes are fading away as we see that even the money they are trying to transfer from Switzerland is perhaps getting caught by the police officials.
Episode 5: The Boy You Were
Everything seems to be going smoothly for Brian as of now. In this episode, we only see Kenneth in the very last scene, where he is planning something against Brian. However, not including the lead antagonist in an almost 1-hour long episode is a risky move. It does backfire, making this perhaps the weakest episode of the series. Anyway, let’s hope the final episode has something to offer, as it does set up an intriguing plot at the end of this episode.
This episode focuses mostly on Edwyn Cooper, as we see his mother following his instructions so that she doesn’t get caught for spending the money. Edwyn grew up in a very poor neighborhood, and now he is embarrassed to see his mother choosing the same lifestyle as always. Edwyn has reached higher levels in society with his own talent and doesn’t want to return to the life he once lived as a child.
On the other hand, we see John Palmer planning to invest in Spain as he tries to buy one of the properties there. He starts spreading his contacts through Santiago, one of the local cops. Santiago informs him that a detective is going to arrest him for having no valid passport. This was Brian’s department’s plan to capture Palmer.
With Santiago’s information, John manages to escape from Spain and ends up in Brazil. He makes a deal with the Brazilian police, but Brian is too clever to be fooled. He follows Marine, John’s wife, and finally, John is taken into custody.
On the other hand, Nicki suggests that they should talk to Micky, as he may know something about who is handling their money. Since Micky’s wives have luxurious houses outside town, Nicki thinks the women may be of some help. Unfortunately, they are too tough to break down. Meanwhile, Brian visits Switzerland, and with the help of the Swiss police, Edwyn’s name comes up. This is the first time the police have something against Edwyn.
Although Edwyn has tried to run away along with Gordon Parry, he ends up at his mother’s house. Brian guesses this right, and he is finally taken into custody. Gordon Parry successfully escapes from the mess. Edwyn has no way to get out of the situation, as the police even talk with Keith, the person who was caught with a load of money while trying to deliver it from Switzerland to Liechtenstein.
Edwyn sees a child in the neighborhood while sitting inside the police car. He smiles at him as he sees his own childhood in that kid.
Episode 6: I’ll Be Remembered
It is definitely not what is expected to be the final episode of a mini-series that starts off so well. As a narrative, The Gold really goes pretty well for the first three episodes. The constant thrill in the first two episodes and the silence in the third episode are of sheer brilliance in terms of making. But since then, it’s all been downhill. Even the ending doesn’t justify the genre itself.
Yes, in the beginning, it seemed like Brian was going to face a very hard battle with Kenneth and his folks, but right now, the only masterstroke Kenneth is able to pull is saving himself from the killing of John Fordham. Apart from that, there never came a time when it looked like he had an upper hand in the case.
Since Edwyn has agreed to help the Special Task Force, people involved in robbing the Brink’s Mat’s gold start to feel threatened. Gordon even goes to some extent of threatening Sienna, which leads to Edwyn pleading not guilty and stopping cooperation with the cops. Kenneth is trying to line up people to buy anyone who is related to the case; if not, then threaten their families. Just like how Tony is offered money, and Nicki’s father is threatened.
But, the Task Force knows that they are doing this because they know they cannot win this war. However, they fail to get a hold of John Palmer, as the juries believe his sad and underprivileged backstory and set him free. Palmer never had his name directly involved in this case, so there is nothing much for the Task Force to hold him for. But, they are not letting Kenneth go, as they have a strong case this time in the conspiracy of the gold bullions.
Kenneth is finally declared guilty by the jury, and the war is now over. Brian tells him that he is letting his wife go free and offers to help him as well if he is willing to give them the rest of the gold. Kenneth doesn’t approve of sharing the information, as he wants to be remembered for not letting the gold hand over to the police.
The Gold (2023) Paramount+ Limited Series Ending Explained:
Where is the rest of the gold?
While Edwyn is sharing information with the Task Force, he mentions a total fund of 13 million euros. But the amount of Gold bullions that is stolen is worth at least 26 million euros. Edwyn has only given them the whereabouts of half of the total sum. Nicki finds this erroneeous and comes to one possible answer.
They are almost certain that Kenneth doesn’t have it because if he has, the figures would be larger than 13 million. So, there is only one possibility if Kenneth doesn’t have the other half. It must be Micky. Now, let’s think about the robbery again.
Six men accidentally find out about 3 tons of gold bullions worth 26 million euros. They split it into two halves. One half they keep for themselves, and the other half they try to invest. Now, we know what happens with Micky, Brian, Kenneth, and John. The fifth member, Donnie, is shot dead by probably one of Micky’s men. Now, we are introduced to the sixth member of the gang.
It is clearly visible that he is leading a life one could only dream of. He is Charlie Miller, the one who was trusted with the rest of the gold bullions. We see Brian engage the team again in search of the rest of the gold. There will definitely be a season 2. It will be interesting to see how Charlie turned that gold into money without getting caught.