‘McMafia’ Could Edge Into Some ‘Breaking Bad’ Territory If It Returns For Season 2

by Genevieve Van Voorhis
Nikola Predovic/Cuba Pictures/CP

BBC's crime drama miniseries McMafia is about to finish its run on AMC with the eighth and final episode of Season 1 on April 23. At the end of Episode 7, Alex Godman (James Norton), the banker raised in the UK who's been getting in touch with his Eastern European mafia roots, is on his way to Moscow. Assuming he makes it out of this one alive — or even if he doesn't — will McMafia return for a Season 2?

The season already finished airing on BBC back in February; this AMC airing was its American debut. But neither network has issued an official confirmation yet that the show will be back. However, the inspiration for the series came from the non-fiction book McMafia: A Journey Through The Global Criminal Underworld by journalist Misha Glenny. And the TV adaptation has only touched on a small fraction of its contents. So there's plenty more material in the book that the series writers could potentially draw from in the future.

Glenny's book is entirely investigative journalism, so all of the characters in the series needed to be invented in order to bring Glenny's context to life. The show's writers, Hossein Amini and Joseph Watkins, told Radio Times that creating characters that could tell the story was a significant challenge in adapting the book, but that they were more than willing to take it on. "Literally none of the characters are real,” Amini said. “But I thought it was just such an exciting canvas. Some books give you great characters, and it’s easy to invent scenes. This gave you a great world, so it was very easy to invent a story around it."

With fresh characters set loose in the world of transnational organized crime, the potential to continue the series could be virtually endless. The writers of McMafia have a lot more flexibility than say, the writers of Game of Thrones did in the seasons that adapted the existing books. Game of Thrones readers could more or less predict deaths and escapes before they happened in the show, but with McMafia, anything is fair game. If Alex doesn't make it out of the finale, a new or existing character could easily take center stage in Season 2.

Like the show, Glenny's book trots the globe following stories of human trafficking, drug trade, money laundering, and more. The first of the four book sections, titled "The Fall of Communism," provides background for the rise of organized crime in the former Soviet Union and its satellite nations. Steve Molnar of Osgoode Hall Law Journal notes that the book explores how turmoil and economic distress create just the right environment in which organized crime can develop.

"Gold, Money, Diamonds and Banks," gets into the world of financial crimes and money laundering. This is the dark, modern world in which Alex of the show finds himself embroiled in Season 1. As any Breaking Bad fan will remember, washing the money is an absolute necessity when it comes to actually using the vast sums of cash brought in on the black market.

The third part of the book focuses on drug trafficking, which, the UN estimates, is responsible for 70 percent of the money earned in the world of organized crime. In his own review of the book McMafia, Michael Mosettig of the European Institute points out that that Glenny himself is a staunch advocate against the War on Drugs. (According to History.com, this policy was first put into place by President Richard Nixon in the '70s in an effort to reduce drug use and trade, and it involved greater and harsher penalties for offenders, even at the lowest level.) It would make sense that a further continuation of a narrative showing the shortcomings of that policy and the way in which the fallout affects all different groups of people could be a serious contender for the plot of Season 2 or beyond. And so too could the final section of Glenny's book, which touches on Japanese organized crime, known as the yakuza, as well as the Chinese Triads.

With all of this gritty and compelling source material at their fingertips, there's really no end to what Amini and Watkins might come up with, provided McMafia gets locked down for a Season 2 soon.