“The Walk-In” is a compelling portrayal of a series of true events that occurred in the UK in the last decade propelled by far-Right hate groups. The five-part drama goes to great depths to show us the atmosphere of fear and hatred that clenched the UK from all sides in the form of multiple right-wing extremists who stood up for White Jihad, i.e., “cleansing” Britain of immigrants. The horrors, the rage, the emotions, and the conundrum are depicted without resorting to gruesomeness. At the same time, there is a certain steadiness in the way the drama moves forward that doesn’t make the events seem rushed without compromising their urgency. Keeping in mind that the show comprises 5 episodes, the creators have done a great job researching and putting together such a succession of events in a manner that hits us hard without allowing it to take a toll on us. Although “The Walk-In” is based on real incidents and characters, we will talk about the aspects exclusive to the show.
‘The Walk-In’ Recap Summary: What Happens In The Series?
Two horrifying events propel the “White Power” movement and its consequences. First is the ruthless attack on Dr. Sarandev Bhambra in Welsh Town in 2015. And second is the assassination of MP Jo Cox in West Yorkshire. Activist Matthew Collins (Stephen Graham), a former member of not one but three fascist groups (Combat 18, British National Party, and National Front), works as an investigator for Hope Not Hate, an anti-fascist organization (founded in 2014). Collins’ latest interest is in National Action, which has been deemed the most extreme right-wing activist group in England. With strong propaganda and an aim to focus on the younger lot of society, National Action poses a huge threat to the country. Collins is convinced that the murder of Jo Cox is just the beginning, and a text from a stranger named Lucas Harrison confirms his fear. National Action is about to kill Labor MP Rosie Cooper and a female police officer. Collins needs an infiltrator, a walk-in, who can get into National Action and keep him updated on its workings. Will he find someone who can report back to him?
Robbie Mullen (Andrew Ellis), in his early 20s, doesn’t have friends or job prospects. His father died of cancer. His crippled discontentment with his own life makes him look for a window through which he can vent out his frustrations with the world. This also makes him vulnerable to the hateful statements made by National Action that apparently address his issues, and he ends up becoming its newest member. But soon, he realizes that he doesn’t want to be a part of a group that is bent upon killing in the name of revolution. But leaving isn’t as easy as joining. After one of National Action’s members, Jack Renshaw, reveals that he intends to kill MP Rosie Cooper and a female police officer who has been harassing him, Robbie decides to prevent it. But this isn’t possible without compromising his identity, which will only make him an enemy of National Action. Will Robbie be able to get the word out?
“The Walk-In” offers a hard-hitting take on the restlessness of finding a purpose at a micro-level while showcasing one of the worst hostile “racist” movements in recent history.
Matthew Collins: The Grass
A grass is referred to a traitor or an informant, and in “The Walk-In,” Matthew Collins is a grass for those right-wing groups he worked for before deciding to opt-out. To be frank, he ran away to Australia for a while to avoid getting killed. After returning, he joined Hope Not Hate to take a stand against right-wing extremist organizations.
While “grass” is only associated with a traitor, one cannot help but notice that Matthew’s “grass” nature extends beyond his shift from his right-wing attitude. It is how he went into hiding rather than face the consequences of his actions. A lot of time passed before he joined Hope Not Hate to raise his voice against what is morally wrong. There is a scene where Matthew confronts Robbie Mullen, addressing his issue with gays. Robbie retaliates, saying that when Matthew did the same when he was Robbie’s age. In fact, Matthew was a lot worse. This does make sense, and though Matthew did change for the better, it took him quite a lot of time; time that Robbie doesn’t have. In the 5th episode, he even admits in court that he ran away to Australia avoiding any trial because he didn’t want to be accused publicly as the informant. Whereas Robbie decided to face the people he held accused.
Matthew is also haunted by his past. There are multiple times when we see him think about how he was as a young member of the “white jihadists.” It is this side of him that haunts him, and it could be a reason why he is so bent upon keeping Robbie close so that he knows about Robbie’s whereabouts. After meeting Robbie, he seems to have been brought face to face with his earlier self, which had been lying dormant inside him for a long time. This is also why he is so desperate to help Robbie because he is aware of the consequences. Furthermore, as much as we support him for helping Robbie Mullen, he wasn’t right to bring Robbie to his own house, where his wife and three kids lived. It took quite a lot of harsh words from his wife for him to realize that even though Robbie’s safety was necessary, he needed to be kept in a solitary location where he wouldn’t be a threat to those around him. Matthew perhaps went to Australia because he realized it would protect those he loved as well. The reason we say this is because we know how strained his relationship was with his father, who was the reason Matthew’s mother had left them. But the fact that Matthew is so close to achieving his goal, i.e., bringing down National Action, is what is making him overlook the safety of those who are closest to him. In other words, he is compromising them. Here too, he is becoming a “grass.”
There was another reason for his hatred that made him join the right extremists. Matthew based his hatred on the one black woman his father had an affair with and used it to hate all black people. He accepts it in front of the very woman at the hospital where his father is admitted after suffering from a stroke (Episode 5). So, it could be that as a child, Matthew blamed himself for not doing anything to save his parents from separation, and this is what made him join the fascist group so that no white kid would have to undergo what he did as a kid. But eventually, at the end of “The Walk-In,” in accepting his actions and approving how Robbie is a much better man than him, Matthew Collins also cleanses himself. And we have to forgive him for his past, as he now stands as proof that even the most hateful of people have the ability to heal from within. And Mattew himself proved it t.
Robbie Mullen: The Walk-In
Robbie Mullen’s case is pretty much what happens to many young lads who are devoid of any direction in life. In searching for a motive in an otherwise meaningless life that has offered nothing but pain, they end up on the dark side, a place where they can do whatever they want to and vent out their rage at the world. Unbeknownst to them, their leaders manipulate them and maneuver their hatred toward a larger motive. Led by National Action’s Christopher Lythgoe and Matt Hankinson, Robbie Mullen was eventually appointed the deputy organizer of the group. It took time for him to realize that National Action was far more dangerous than he thought. He became a part of the group more to be able to be around people who shared his views and considered him their friend. It is hard to believe that he, even though admittedly a racist, would have wanted people to die just because they belonged to a different race. His young age and immaturity are what led him to National Action, and the group, in turn, took advantage of these two characteristics to take him in without any kind of doubt. They considered him harmless and hence didn’t doubt him even after they found out that they had a “grass” among them who was reporting to Hope Not Hate. But all this doesn’t mean Robbie didn’t like it inside National Action. He tells Matthew how National Action gave him friends, and for a guy like him, to have people around him means a lot. This is why he wasn’t willing to give up the names of the other members of the group to the police. He wasn’t ready to break their trust. But something in him changed, and he eventually decided to cope with the legal authorities, especially after he found out that MP Rosie Copper’s murder had been averted and Jack Renshaw had been taken into custody.
For Robbie to do what he did takes a lot of courage, especially at his age. Nobody told him to report to Matthew Collins in the first place. It was he who texted Collins informing about the plot to kill Rosie Cooper. This means that he had decided to stop National Action from killing someone, knowing that if word got out, he would most certainly die. He was very scared, and rightfully so, after his first hearing in court as he knew that his name and face would be in the newspapers, making him vulnerable to not just National Action but to all other extremist groups. But this didn’t stop him either. He stood up and answered all the questions asked of him by the defense lawyer who was trying to intimidate him. And though his proof didn’t affect the jury, it did add to the fact that National Action was indeed an extremist group that was planning to kill government officials. “That’s progress,” Matthew tells Robbie at the end of the last episode.
‘The Walk-In’ Ending Explained: Is National Action Taken Into Custody?
Christopher Lythgoe, Matt Hankinson, and Jack Renshaw, who headed National Action, were all sent to prison. And what’s surprising is that Renshaw was convicted not just for plotting the murder of MP Rosie Cooper and a female police officer but also for grooming young boys. The female police officer, Victoria Henderson, was going to press charges on Renshaw for it, and he wanted to kill her to avoid his obsession going public. Why? Because extremists hate the LGBTQ community as well. Renshaw couldn’t possibly admit to his own true nature as it would nullify his membership in National Action. Perhaps fate is also at play here. Had Renshaw not messaged the 13-year-old kid, the police, led by Victoria Henderson, wouldn’t have arrested him. If they hadn’t arrested him, he wouldn’t have felt the need to kill MPs Rosie Cooper and Victoria Henderson. If he hadn’t felt the need to kill, he wouldn’t have revealed his plan in front of Robbie. If Robbie hadn’t heard it, he wouldn’t have texted Matthew. And if Robbie hadn’t texted Matthew, all three convicts would have succeeded in executing their plan.
The arrest of Christopher Lythgoe, Matt Hankinson, and Jack Renshaw is a small battle won as opposed to the huge war that is still ongoing. At the end of “The Walk-In,” some facts are thrown our way that state that as of 2021, more far-right extremists were arrested for terrorist offenses in the UK than Islamists 4 years in a row. And white terrorism accounts for more than 50% of all terrorist arrests. It is up to people like Matthew Collins and Robbie Mullen and organizations like Hope Not Hate to keep playing their part. But change will come only when we all come together as members of different racial backgrounds and fight as a single community, sharing hope, faith, and love.
Matthew and Robbie are similar in the way that both ended up joining the right wing out of hatred towards an outcome of their own lives, not any external factor or element. Had Matthew not found out about the black woman, perhaps he wouldn’t have joined the fascist group. If Robbie had been closer to his family and had friends, he wouldn’t have joined National Action. And to see them both help each other face each other’s past and then have a conversation about how “changing just a little bit” also matters offers a proper ending.
“The Walk-In” is a 2022 Drama Thriller series created by Jeff Pope.