Gangs of London season 1 recap: What happened in the gangster drama, ahead of season 2 launch

The body count was high, but what else happened?

Joe Cole as Sean Wallace and Michelle Fairley as Marian Wallace in Gangs of London
(Image credit: Sky/Future)

Apart from explosions, guns, and murder, here’s everything else that happened in the thrilling crime drama.

Gangs of London season 1 aired in the UK back in April 2020, on Sky Atlantic. The explosive action followed the fallout after the head of London’s most powerful crime dynasty is brutally murdered. Finn Wallace had controlled London for over 20 years, and his sudden assassination sent shockwaves through the criminal underworld - nobody knew who killed him and who ordered the murder. With his remaining family surrounded by rivals vying for the position of top dog, youngest son Sean Wallace must take his father’s place and regain control. With the help of lifelong allies the Dumani family, Sean encounters everyone from the Albanian Mafia and Kurdish freedom fighters, to the Pakistani Drug Cartel and Welsh travellers, in the fight to lead. Little does he know the Wallace family have also been infiltrated by an undercover policeman. Here is the full recap of everything that happened during the epic first season.

With the Gangs of London season 2 release date nearly here, here's everything we know about it so far. Also on NOW TV, another highly anticipated series is back - we have the lowdown on The White Lotus season 2. Also on the streamer, A Friend of The Family tells the chilling true story of a child kidnapped multiple times - by the same man.  

Gangs of London season 1 recap

The series begins with a man interrogated while hanging upside from the top of a building. Petrol is poured on him and he’s set on fire, watched by Sean Wallace, who says “What else can I do?” Jumping back a week, two men are instructed to carry out a hit on Finn Wallace, head of London’s most powerful crime family - the killers flee the scene with a bag full of money. 

Finn Wallace was murdered by Welsh traveller Darren who was oblivious to his identity, and just needed money - Finn's driver that fateful night is now missing. Finn’s youngest son Sean takes over the family business, shutting all criminal enterprises down until his father’s killer is caught. Finn's advisor and lifelong friend Ed Dumani and son Alex - also lifelong friends with Sean - advise against this move. Suspicions about Finn’s murder have immediately fallen on Albanian gang boss Luan, notably absent from Finn's wake. Elliot, a low-ranking member of the Wallace gang, wants to prove himself and be the first to find leads in the case. When he learns that Luan has Finn's missing driver held captive, Elliot frees Jack from Luan's hideout, earning Sean’s gratitude - and raising suspicion about Luan's involvement in the murder even more. 


Darren’s father Kinney finds out his son murdered Finn and sends him away with some traveller friends, for his own safety. Elliot, now revealed to be an undercover policeman, finds out about Darren's hideout from his handler Vicky Chung. Going to find him, Elliot finds Darren is already gone. Back with the gangs, Ed Dumani murders Finn's driver Jack to stop him leaking any of Finn’s secrets. 

Flashbacks depict Finn taking a young Sean to the woods to commit his first murder. Sean was unable to go through with the kill, and older brother Billy did the job instead. Back in the present, Billy is revealed as gay and a recovering heroin addict not allowed any part in the family business - this is why Sean has been trying to take over from his father. 

Leader of the Kurdish gang Lale, finds a new source for acquiring heroin, stealing from rival Asif's business. Undercover Elliot is assigned as Ed Dumani's daughter Shannon Dumani’s driver, and the two immediately bond. Luan meets with Ed and offers intel on a secret Finn was keeping from everyone. Kinney contacts Sean, begging for his son’s life, but Sean refuses to give in and states that Darren will die for what he did to his father. Billy goes missing and when he returns, identifies Kurdish dealers and Lale's continued business despite Finn ordering everything to be shutdown. Sean heads to Kinney's traveller camp to kill Darren, killing many but Kinney manages to escape - Darren isn't there, having been sent to safety by Kinney.  

Colm Meaney as Finn Wallace in Gangs of London

(Image credit: Sky)

Another flashback reveals Lale's husband was burned alive by Asif's men in Kurdistan, and Lale is out for revenge. Marian Wallace hires an investigator who tells her Finn was having an affair with a woman named Floriana, who lived in the flat next to the one where Finn was killed. Luan agrees to launder money through the Wallace business for a Nigerian crime lord named Mosi. Elliot grows closer to Shannon and gets to know her son Danny - it's not long before Elliot and Shannon share a kiss. Sean and Ed plan how to respond to Lale's lack of compliance with the shutdown and Sean hires a mercenary named Cole to kidnap Lale's sister and her family, ordering her to halt a shipment to Kurdistan.

Ed is unaware Sean has done this, taking Elliot to Lale's business front and discovering the fallout of the kidnapping. Elliot attempts to rescue Lale's family, and nearly dies in a fight with Cole, who is shot dead by Ed. Sean destroys Lale's shipment, but now agrees she is the only London gang leader proven not to have murdered Finn.

Sean fears the Wallaces and Dumanis are growing apart, planning a dinner for the families to regroup. Half-sister Jacqueline, who refuses to have anything to do with the family business, also agrees to attend. Sean goes into business with Lale, with Asif finding out about this arrangement. Elliot's undercover handler Vicky is anonymously told to stop investigating Floriana, and sent footage of someone entering her flat while she’s asleep and touching her face with a knife. Floriana is found to be pregnant, and being held captive in the basement by a Danish man named Leif and his mother. Elliot grows ever closer to Shannon and reveals his tragic past - his wife and son died in a car crash.

Sope Dirisu as Elliot in Gangs of London

(Image credit: Sky)

Ed Dumani grows suspicious of Elliot, assigning him to help Mark track down thieves who robbed a jewellery shop instead of continuing usual business with Sean. Elliot refuses to torture the thieves the pair capture, and Mark discovers his true identity. In the meantime, Leif attempts to assassinate Sean with a sniper rifle from a rooftop, killing many of his men in the process - including Mark. With Mark dead, Elliot's identity is safe again. When Elliot takes a bullet to save Sean's life, Sean takes him back to the Wallace home where he can be treated. A housemaid suddenly pulls a gun on Sean, but Alex Dumani shoots her - chaos ensues.

Darren is still on the run from Sean and is taken by Kinney's men to a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, owned by acquaintance Evie. Evie works as a weapons manufacturer, and plans for Darren to leave the country by boat, accompanied by her husband Clark. Following the earlier traveller massacre, a wounded Kinney has been hiding in nearby woods. Leif arrives at the campsite also looking for Darren, and it’s revealed the housemaid who shot Sean is Danish mercenary as well. Leif discovers Kinney's phone and works out Darren's location from texts exchanged between the pair. Kinney has no choice but to reach Darren on foot, arriving at Evie's compound at the same time as the Danes, where a siege takes place.

Everyone inside is killed, but Kinney and Darren escape through an underground tunnel. Leif catches up with them, killing Kinney, Darren, and Mal. Leif makes a call to confirm Darren's death, and it is revealed the Danes work for Jevan Kapadia - the legitimate businessman Sean is dealing with for a believable front to illegal dealings. Ed identifies Jevan as responsible for attempting to shoot Sean. Confronting him, Jevan convinces Ed to spare him and keep the information to himself, threatening Alex if he does not. Ed eventually reveals to Alex that Finn was killed by his own investors, who are now trying to kill Sean.

Michelle Fairley as Marian Wallace in Gangs of London

(Image credit: Sky)

Sean, Marian and Billy are taken to a safe house, where the housemaid - having survived her gunshot wound, is tortured by Marian for information. Sean invites Elliot to the safe house, and they locate housemaid/undercover Danish mercenary Tova's house using a tracking chip on her dog - they find she was formerly Danish Special Forces. While at the safehouse, recovering addict Billy relapses and dazed, manages to let the housemaid become free. She binds him and leaves him tied up in her place. Just as she tries to make a run for it, Marian arrives and shoots her dead. Back with the Dumanis, Alex realises £500 million pounds has disappeared from the company bank account.

Asif sends men to massacre Lale’s entire organisation, and she only narrowly escapes the attack. Leif and his mother still have Floriana captive and manage to remove her from the basement, just before it is raided. DCI Hawks attempts to pull Elliot from his undercover position, becoming increasingly worried about how long it will be until his identity is revealed. With his money missing from the company account, Mosi wants answers - he and his men slaughter employees at the investment bank where it was being laundered. Luan threatens Ed, believing he stole the money, but Alex identifies the withdrawals were set up by Finn himself before he died. It transpires Finn was planning to leave his family and business to start a new life with Floriana.

The investment bank massacre angers the investors, with Jevan demanding Ed and Alex find a way of ousting Sean from the business after multiple attempts on his life have failed. Marian visits family in Ireland, and her private investigator spots Ed and Alex with Jevan. Sean finds out Finn never intended him to be heir and Ed and Alex have been trying to ostracise him. He responds to this by shooting Ed in the leg and telling the Dumanis they will never have contact with him again.

Sean and Marian go back into hiding, pursued by Leif whose mercenaries look to take Jackie hostage. Warned about the situation by Billy, the two flee the country. Luan attempts an ambush on Mosi which goes wrong, and his accomplices are killed. Floriana gives birth to a daughter while still held captive, and manages to escape Leif's house - she manages to kick Leif's mother down the stairs on her way out. Alex tracks down part of the money Finn had withdrawn, and a disillusioned Sean makes a final retaliation against his enemies.

Brian Vernel as Billy Wallace in Gangs of London

(Image credit: Sky)

How did season 1 of Gangs of London end?

Season 1 of Gangs of London ends with Marian meeting with Ed Dumani to discuss the situation the  two families are in, and him shooting her. Elliot also shoots and appears to kill Sean. Viewers later find Marian is only wounded, and ironically it was Finn's mistress Floriana, who came to her aid.

Shannon and Sean find out that Elliot is an undercover officer, and Shannon is apoplectic with rage and responds by killing his handler, Vicky. Sean cannot believe one of his most trusted men was out to betray him, but still wants Elliot to collaborate with him on taking down the investors who have been trying so hard to kill him. Sean shares evidence with Elliot about the investors, proving years of corruption on their part.

Alex Dumani arrives and threatens Sean at gunpoint. Sean desperately urges Alex to think about their history and consider trying to overthrow the investors instead of killing him. However, his heartfelt pleas work when when Alex drops the gun, but Elliot immediately grabs it and shoots Sean in the face. It transpires the investors had threatened to kill Shannon and Danny if he didn't kill Sean - he was also instructed to keep Alex safe.

Elliot urges Alex to escape and gives himself up to the police. He is tortured by police interrogators, and a corrupt Doctor monitoring his health and working for the investors, eventually forces the police to free him. Elliot is already planning the downfall of the investors - he has the information about their corruption Sean shared with him, and is planning to use it for revenge.  

Joe Cole as Sean and Sope Dirisu as Elliot in Gangs of London

(Image credit: Sky)

Does Sean Wallace survive in Gangs of London

It is still unclear if Sean Wallace does survive in Gangs of London, and directors Gareth Evans, Corin Hardy, and Xavier Gens, have refused to confirm.

Speaking to Den of Geek, they stated it was always the plan for Sean to die at the end of the season. Hardy said "It was really important, and it was planned out from the start that Sean Wallace would die at the end of episode nine. He’s shot and he’s killed, and the policeman identifies that. We wanted to really follow through on our mission. It was important to me that you see the gunshot" . 

However, Evans said "I think we’ve kept that pretty open, in terms of where Elliot shot him,” he says. “If it had been dead centre, then yeah, absolutely". He indicated there was room for manoeuvre regarding a possible return for Sean, adding that audiences should wait and see.

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Is there any truth in Gangs of London?

Gangs of London isn't based on one particular true story, but the storylines do take their basis from genuine crimes committed.

According to NME, show creators based every major plot point on extensive research into international gangs and how they operate, to make it as real as possible. Former gang members such as Karl Lokko and Duro Oye were consulted, as well as those working in the field such as criminologists and detectives. 

The Wallace's run a legitimate property empire because criminologists understand that most people involved in criminal activity have legitimate business as a front. Usually, these businesses involve property. A major plot in the show involves smuggling heroin from central Asia to Europe using the Balkan Route. This is a real life smuggling route, with known regions of Turkey acting as handover points into the West.

Paapa Essiedu as Alexander Dumani & Lucian Msamati as Ed Dumani in Gangs of London

(Image credit: Sky)

How can I watch Gangs of London season 1?

Gangs of London season 1 is available exclusively on Sky Atlantic in the Uk, which can be viewed on NOW TV. 

A flexible way to view Sky Atlantic is a Now TV Entertainment Pass, which can be purchased for £9.99 a month. Another method is through Sky TV itself, where it can be purchased as part of their Sky Signature TV packages.

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Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.