Rap is the genre of music that has been mired with crime and scandal more often than its counterparts. The drama and intrigue of what goes on behind the scenes of the music industry have often been the topic of movies and TV shows. Fox’s ‘Empire’ is one of the best series in this category in recent times and its huge popularity is the testimony of the effect the good music and thick plot can have on the viewers. Netflix enters this territory with a German series that focuses on the life of a young music producer who becomes involved in the world of drugs and crime. If you haven’t seen the series, head over to Netflix.
Summary of the Plot
Jinn receives a pleasant surprise when a talent scout from Skyline Records approaches him after a show. Becoming a part of this company means working with some of the best names in the business, and this is as good as it can get for Jinn. What he doesn’t know is that this company has a history with drugs and crime. It might have stayed out of that world for a long time, but with the return of an influential figure, things are going to change now. Jinn has no idea what is coming for him.
Frankfurt’s Rap and Drug Scene
Through the lens of the myriad of characters, we get to see the grand picture of Frankfurt’s lifestyle. The variety showcases different rungs of society and how they are all affected when you take a step back from their individual pieces and look at the bigger picture. In its six episodes, ‘Skylines’ brings together these pieces in a very well-thought-out manner. The series begins with Jinn as the protagonist. His rap scene and the breakthrough point in his career becomes the major plotline in the first three episodes. But, in the background, other forces are at work, and once the groundwork has been laid, the word “protagonist” is thrown out of the window. This is a game of chess and everyone is someone’s pawn. In the end, all of them come to realise that and begin to accept their realities. To completely understand how they are all connected, let’s take a step by step look into their journey.
Jinn’s Music Career
Frankfurt is the city where German rap-artists are nurtured. They start with the rap battles in minor places, hoping to, one day, get a breakthrough and enter the league of the bigger players. Jinn and his friend have been trying to do the same. His friend doesn’t have much luck, but Jinn is singled out by a talent scout and receives an offer to be a part of Skyline Records. He has a fallout with his friend, as well as his sister, because of this, but now that he has a chance to make his dreams come true, he won’t back out. The turning point comes when he asked to produce for Zilan. Despite struggling with her weak rap skills, he discovers that she has much more to offer. A friendship develops, but then an incident opens his eyes about what is happening in the basement of his workplace. One more incident and he comes under the radar of the cops, which is where he becomes aware of other pieces of the puzzle- Sarah’s case and his father’s corruption.
Kalifa and Ardan’s Brotherhood
The story of these characters takes a twisted form by the end, which I will try to straighten out here. Going back to the beginning, Ardan and Kalifa were just children when they came to Frankfurt. Kalifa had a talent for music but didn’t have the money to do anything about it. This is where Ardan comes in. He wanted to give his brother the bright future that he deserved, so he got into the business of drugs and made a reputation for himself. He used the money to invest in Kalifa’s career. Meanwhile, Kalifa was in a relationship with Sara.
It seemed like they were made for each other, but then, Ardan robbed her parents’ shop. We know that Ardan is not really an amicable person, so we expect that some intimidating- verbal or physical- happened there, which is why they closed their business and moved elsewhere. This soured Kalifa and Sara’s relationship, but as we see, it later comes into play when she crosses paths with Ardan again. After Ardan left the scene, Kalifa flourished and established Skyline Records. He owes this success to his brother, which is why he is hesitant to tell him to take his drug business elsewhere.
Jinn’s Father’s Scandal
When we first meet Sara, she is involved in an investigation that has nothing to with Skyline Records. She is working with a CI to bring down an organization that has been operating without a blemish for too long. This CI is an overly ambitious person and is very money-oriented. He comes across Jinn’s father and records a conversation which implicates him in a shady deal of insider trading. While the rest of the story is interconnected, this arc doesn’t make much sense. Until the finale, that is. The CI fails to receive a hefty sum from the police, so he decides to go to the source instead. He blackmails Jinn’s father, which leads to his own death, but the recording ends up with the cops. This becomes instrumental in placing Jinn in the middle of the war that is about to start in Frankfurt.
As all the storylines converge in the final episode, the process of laying the foundation for the future seasons ends on a high note. When it started, all the players of the game were scattered. Most of them weren’t even aware of each other’s existence, and even though we know that the world of drug trade would involve life-or-death situations, we didn’t really get a picture of how far ‘Skylines’ was ready to go with it. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait much.
By the end of the season, Jinn has become completely aware of the situation that he has gotten himself into. He just wanted to be a music producer, but now, he has not only become a part, no matter how minor, of a drug business, but also has a sword hanging on his head because he has to act as an informant now. Sara, who got pretty close to catching Ardan, receives a setback when she comes face to face with death.
At this moment, she realises that all the work she put in has gone to waste, especially with the death of her CI (which makes us worried for Jinn because both his predecessors are dead). She stumbles upon Jinn’s predicament, and when she comes to know about his father, she knows she has hit a jackpot. Now, she only needs to convince him to do it. He doesn’t get much time to process the conversation with her because he is called into the office and receives an offer to work directly with Kalifa. He doesn’t refuse it.
Meanwhile, Skyline Records has been taken over by Ardan and he seems to be in the mood of making drugs his primary business. His stuff is selling very well in the market, and in all honesty, he never really was interested in music. He is on the rise, but that’s also the thing that makes him weak. He has become so sure of his power and influence that he is not paying heed to his enemies, let alone underestimate them.
Remember the bomb blast that took place in the first episode. The cops thought this was due to the gang war between the Albanians and the biker gang. Sara had always been suspicious of it and when she discovers that Ardan is back in town, she turns the investigation in his direction. Even though she is not backed by her department, she is absolutely right. Ardan is the one who instigated this war. He made it look like the biker gang was responsible for the explosions so that the Albanians would take arms against them, and they would destroy each other in the war that was not started by any of them. Divide and conquer- the oldest trick in the book. The plan works very well, but as he begins to flex his legs, the enemy strikes back. Or, at least, sends a message regarding it.
Sarah gears up to take the fight to Ardan. The first thing she does is send her daughter away with her husband. She knows that her enemies will not hesitate to attack her family and if she is to get her head into it, she shouldn’t be constantly scared for her loved ones. Moreover, she has Jinn exactly where she wants him. All she needs to do now is wait for Ardan to make a mistake.
Skylines Season 2: What to Expect?
So much happens in mere six episodes of ‘Skylines’ that once you are finished with it, you wish for it to have been longer. But that’s the beauty of condensing a story like that. All the irrelevant parts have already been cut out, and with the first season like that, you know that the follow-up has some high standards to meet. We don’t have many questions from the season finale, but we do have a lot of anticipation for its next season. The basics are done with. We have met the characters, we know their motivations, we know what they are capable of, and we know the difference between the good guys and the bad. We know who to root for. In the second season, the story will build upon that.
First of all, who is this new threat to Ardan. He enters the picture minutes before the final scene of the show. He is there just for a couple of minutes, but we sense that he is someone we wouldn’t want to cross paths with. His enmity with Ardan will become the major plot point in the following season, and we might just witness a full-out gang war. But this is just the problem on the outside. Another thing Ardan should be worried about is the internal conflict that he has germinated in Skyline Records.
He is not really on good terms with his brother, who will surely want to take back his rightful place in the company. Moreover, there is already a mole in his ranks. Jinn has already established goodwill with Zilan and might bank on that to get closer to Ardan’s operation. The bad guy has also royally pissed off Sara. To attack her is another thing, but he threatened her family. If it was not personal in the first season, it surely will be in the next. She has sent her daughter away and now, has nothing to lose. She is all in, and with Jinn’s help, she only needs to wait for the right time to make her move.
Setting aside the major players, the second season might also give more screen time to the ones who have been lingering in the shadows. Lily, Jinn’s sister, who now works with drug addicts, might unwantedly become a part of her brother’s endeavour. His father’s scandal might not die down so easily, and can adversely affect Jinn’s situation if the case receives media attention. Kalifa’s wife, who already hates Ardan, might also play some games to support her husband’s bid for power. Whether these speculations come true or not, we can expect an explosive second season with strong powerplay.