The Great Pretender follows a team of four con artists scamming corrupt criminals who possess a boatload of wealth. Here’s the story so far:
The following post contains minor spoilers for Great Pretender (episodes 1-14).
Makoto Edamura, teasingly referred to as “Edamame”, provides the primary lens through which the viewer steps into the show. The story starts with Edamura being scouted in Japan by a natty Frenchman named Laurent.
Laurent runs an international scam syndicate. Having heard that Edamura is Japan’s top con artist, Laurent decides to bring him into the fold. It also means the setting isn’t limited to Japan. Each story arc has the team traveling to Los Angeles, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, respectively.
Character-Driven Crime Across Countries
Most great stories are character-driven. Unfortunately, some suffer from their characters not receiving the attention they deserve. Worry not! Just like Cowboy Bebop, each big scam in Great Pretender explores the development and backstory for a different character, and each is about making peace with the past.
You might be wondering who the other two characters are, though. Los Angeles focuses on Edamura, but Singapore focuses on Abby, and the UK on Cynthia.
Abigail Jones is a war victim. The team’s scam in Singapore brings some of her PTSD to light. Abby tends to be irritable and abrasive, refusing to get close to anyone. She’s also incredibly skilled at combat, so you definitely wouldn’t want to get on her bad side.
On the other hand, Cynthia Moore seems to be a more experienced con artist who prefers to use her sexual appeal to her advantage. She encounters an old enemy and lover in London. The arc deals with the art scene’s criminal underground. A dastardly art appraiser from Cynthia’s past reappears in France, cloying over an art piece called Snow of London worth $20 million dollars.
A Criminal with a Conscience
In Los Angeles, Edamura undergoes a transformation. He sees the innocent life of a child potentially affected by the criminal activity of his father, a man who works for the mob boss that Laurent wants to scam. Trying to prevent a fate where the father ends up in prison and his child without both parents, Edamura does all he can to make sure no one unnecessarily suffers.
Why the conscience? You’ll have to watch the show for the rest of the details! But as a result, Edamura decides to turn himself into the Japanese police for all the scamming he conducted prior to joining up with Laurent.
Even though he joins up with the team again for Singapore and the UK, there’s this sense he wants to help bring an end to their involvement with crime, even against the stacked pockets of corrupt figures. Maybe that’s why Edamura interferes in Abby and Cynthia’s lives to help them find closure for their unresolved issues. Edamura has found his peace. Can Laurent?
Will Laurent Face the Music?
Of the 14 episodes that have aired so far, Laurent is the only one whose past hasn’t been explored, and we have 9 more to go for a total of 23.
Laurent is the cool guy. He always has everything under control, and never becomes emotionally involved with scamming. This begs the question, will he be a tough nut to crack? We’re not even quite sure how he found out about Edamura to begin with. You get the idea pretty early on though that he has eyes and ears in every nation. Still, the mystery remains of just how he came to head such a powerful scam syndicate.
If I had to speculate with what we know so far, it’s possible Laurent teamed up with Cynthia first before finding Abigail and eventually Edamura. Substantiating such a claim wouldn’t be entirely difficult considering Cynthia has her own private island, raising further questions, such as, how much money Cynthia and Laurent have, and how they haven’t been caught yet.
No doubt, leaving no trail is next to impossible. Mess with enough powerful people, and they and their cronies will come after you at any cost. The rich and wrongful often have a passion for vengeance when betrayed or conspired against. If a looming danger were slowly encroaching on the lives of Laurent and the crew, audiences would get closer to the edges of their seats.
So, will Laurent’s problems catch up with him before he has a chance to make peace with his past? There’s only one way to find out. Keep watching. Stream Great Pretender on Netflix today.