If your response to episode two of Next of Kin was “huh?” you’re not alone. We have questions. Many, many questions.
To be fair, this is a thriller, so *mystery* is kind of a design feature rather than a flaw. But things are starting to get so confused that we keep wondering if we’ve missed some vital information. What on earth is going on?
To help clarify what we know and what we don’t know, here are the big unanswered questions from the series so far, in no particular order.
1. Why is Danny running from the men and why is he afraid of them?
Danny in Lahore (ITV)
Kareem’s teenage son Danny Shirani appears to be a terror suspect, but we suspect he’s actually terrified. The Brit is stuck in Lahore, and a couple of men chase him when he desperately tries to run away to the British embassy. They have apparently confiscated his passport. Something shifty is going on and we can only wildly guess what it is.
2. What mysterious illness does he suffer?
In the first episode, his grandma bemoaned her “poor little Danny, always forgetting to take his medications”. And now we sort of know what that means: as he tried to make a break for it, the boy staggered, lost focus and collapsed into some kind of fit. Seems like this as-yet-unexplained illness will be a key plot point.
3. Why did the British police send Mona to Pakistan to ID her brother’s body?
Seriously, this was so fishy from the very beginning and both Mona and Guy should definitely have asked a few more questions. Top cop Vivien turned up at Guy’s work event covered in red flags, apologised for the balls-up in getting Kareem’s body released, and said the authorities needed Mona to go over and get him. Not his mother, not his widow: specifically Mona. But why?
Next of Kin – Mona talks to a British official (ITV)
Mona realised she’d been used when she arrived and found the ID problem had already been resolved. There was never any need for her to go.
So why did the British police insist on flying her out there in the first place? It’s clear they’re up to something, but what are they trying to achieve? Why did they arrange for a couple of “handlers”, and why were they on standby to track her phone? And why, in the UK, is her family being blatantly followed by a flashy silver car? It’s all very odd.
4. Who issued Mona with her secret summons?
“1pm: be in the square or be square.” A note through the window instructed Mona to slip away from her handlers and make her way to a meeting point. Once there, a grim-faced little boy grabbed her by the hand and led her through the winding streets of Lahore, pushed her through a doorway and delivered her to Danny.
Mrs Shirani and Mona in Lahore (ITV)
Did Danny send the note and the kid, or did the men who are keeping him ‘captive’? If the latter: why? It’s unclear what they were trying to achieve. The British police thought she was falling into a trap of some kind but no one seems to know what kind of trap, or why, or who would have set the trap, or if this is actually not a trap but a genuine distress call from Danny.
The British police were caught off guard by Mona’s escape. But what are they using her for if she wasn’t meant to lead them to Danny? Or were they expecting something else?
5. Did they mean to shoot Mona?
The two bodyguards followed Mona to her nephew Danny and managed to get up on a neighbouring rooftop with a clear shot at the young man. They were ordered over earpiece to bring him down, but instead they managed to shoot Mona in the gut – leaving Danny to escape. The two men were meant to be the best of the best, but somehow they put a bullet in the wrong person. Was this a simple mistake – or are there other forces at work here?
6. Is there something suspicious about Omar suddenly needing a cash injection of £500 for his daughter’s nursery?
Omar and his daughter (ITV)
Mona’s little bro Omar calls Mona while he’s out delivering parcels to tell her about his (presumably expensive) new tattoo, and to beg her for £500 to give his daughter’s mother for nursery fees. She promises to talk to her husband – again – about a cash infusion. Perhaps this is included to set Omar up as an unreliable character, but it seems like a weird detail to include unless it’s relevant to the plot. Park this question for a later date.
7. Why didn’t Mona tell Guy that she knows Danny’s in Lahore?
The police clearly knew, and they knew Mona knew. They thought Guy knew, too. But devastatingly, his beloved wife had kept a major secret from him and let him believe Danny was actually in Spain. Who was she trying to protect?
8. Why did Mrs Shirani hide Danny’s new number?
The more you think about this one, the weirder it gets. Danny’s dad DIED. He was MURDERED. Yet Mrs Shirani, who had Danny’s new phone number and clearly knew something weird was going on, sat on it for a couple of days. Did she call the number before finally giving the scrap of paper to Mona, or what?
9. What is Guy’s vague business deal with Mr Khalid?
Guy Harcourt, Mona’s husband, is a political lobbyist. At the moment he’s involved in some kind of big nuclear deal with Saudi businessman Mr Khalid. The details are super sketchy but everyone seems to be bending over backwards to woo Mr Khalid. Something seems… off?
10. How do Mona and Guy know Vivien?
It’s clear that Mona and Guy both know Assistant Chief Constable Vivien Barnes (Claire Skinner), but their relationship is pretty ambiguous. She and Guy perhaps cross paths at work, but what about Mona? The two of them also seem cold towards Vivien and regard her with some suspicion, although this could be related to the whole Kareem-death-body debacle.
11. Why was Kareem making a detour?
Let’s back up a bit and talk about one of the enduring mysteries from episode one. Before Kareem died, he was heading to the airport to magically teleport back to London in time for his “welcome home” party a few hours later (or something like that). He was already running late for his flight, but over the phone he told his sister he just had to make a quick detour for a ‘good kind’ of surprise.
Next of Kin – Navin Chowdhry as Kareem (ITV)
Then when the taxi driver suddenly turned down a dirt track and he was surrounded by armed gunmen, he yelled: “This is not right! This not what we agreed!”
So what HAD they agreed?
12. Who killed Kareem?
This is the big mystery, but it’s complicated. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack (yet), but it was filmed and posted online for the family and police to see.
So what were the killers trying to achieve? Had Kareem angered them in some way, or was there a financial gain? His execution clearly came as a surprise. And we know he’s dead, even though a bag was tied over his head before he was shot: his mother identified him at the morgue.
13. Why is Kareem’s charity under suspicion?
Kareem in Next of Kin (ITV)
The Shirani family knows something’s up, but not what. Officials have begun sniffing around the charity health clinic Kareem ran in Lahore before his death, and in London Detective Townsend (Enzo Cilenti) asked Mona some intrusive questions about how much money the charity raised.
14. Why was Danny ashamed of his dad?
Danny and Kareem had some contact in Lahore. Before Mona is taken down by the gunmen, he tells her he was ashamed of his father, but in the confusion he never tells us what this was about. This could be related to question 13, of course.
15. How does the London bombing figure in?
All of this is taking place against the backdrop of a bomb attack in London on the same day as Kareem’s murder. The bombing was framed as a big part of the narrative, and it looks like we’re dealing with some kind of terrorism plotline within the Shirani family, too. Surely it all has to tie together – somehow?