Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Paula at http://paulalight.com
Tell Me Your Secrets
I recently binged this thriller drama series on Prime, and I have to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with it. None of the characters are likeable, not even in a Tony Soprano funny but loveable mafia thug way, but it was hard to look away from the show. The story was strangely compelling, and I needed to know what happened to these fictional people I didn’t like at all! I guess that makes the writing successful.
The series was created by Harriet Warner and premiered on Prime in February 2021. There are four main characters: Emma Hall (played by Lily Rabe), Mary Barlow (Amy Brenneman), John Tyler (Hamish Linklater), and Peter Guillory (Enrique Murciano). I would also argue that there is a fifth main character, shown only in flashback, and that is Christopher (Kit) Parker, played by Xavier Samuel.
The show begins with the imprisoned Karen Miller agreeing to give up some info on Kit Parker, her former boyfriend who is also in prison for murder, and thus Karen is rewarded with a new identity as Emma Hall and placed into witness protection. One of the first problems for Emma is that due to PTSD she is able only to summon up vague flashes of unreliable memories, though it appears she is trying to cooperate with Peter, her parole officer. Some of her flashbacks make her appear to be an accomplice to Kit’s abductions/murders, and other times she seems like a victim who narrowly escaped, though Emma isn’t sure and neither are we. Peter sets her up in an old house in Saint James, Louisiana, which is located conveniently close to his own residence. It turns out that he has an unsavory history involving some other locals, and this takes a while to untangle, and he seems creepier as time goes by. Emma finds work in her former profession as a hairstylist, and she makes a few friends as well as enemies. Soon Emma becomes romantically involved with a local police officer, Tom Johnston (played by Marque Richardson), which brings a new set of complications. We also discover that Kit killed himself in his cell after reading a goodbye letter from Karen (who is now Emma), and Emma’s reaction is confusing. Did she love him, or was she terrified by him? Maybe both.
Simultaneously, back in Texas, Mary is obsessed with finding her missing daughter Theresa. She believes that, unlike Kit’s other victims, Theresa is still alive somewhere. Her husband and son disagree and urge Mary to accept that Theresa is dead and move on, but she refuses. John Tyler, a convicted serial rapist who has done his time, shows up at Mary’s foundation one day for a meeting and offers his services to help women feel safer, as he says he knows all an abductor’s tricks, and supposedly his motivation is redemption for his past crimes. Mary says no thanks because he won’t specifically focus on Theresa, but a bit later in the episode when Mary offers him a job with an expense account to find Karen (Emma) instead, John agrees. It is driving Mary nuts that the system is helping Karen (Emma) create a new life after they failed to find Theresa ~ and Mary believes that Karen (Emma) helped Kit with his abductions.
OK, so this might be an unpopular opinion, but I actually found John to be the most interesting character, though of course he’s still a bad guy overall. But his motivations are layered, while the other characters are much less complex. Mary is just an annoying beyotch, though I can certainly understand her unrelenting focus on her daughter. Emma grates on my nerves with her wishy-washy behaviors and bad decisions. Peter begins to seem more and more sinister as the episodes roll on and not in a sexy way despite his appearance. Some of the side stories are fascinating in their own right, such as the complex dynamics within one of the town’s prominent families, the Lords. Bodie Lord (played by Richard Thomas) has an increasingly dramatic role in the second half of S1. Emma has a run-in with Bodie’s daughter Rose (Chiara Aurelia), due to breaking up a fight, and her mother Diana (Katherine Willis), due to a hair coloring mishap, but Emma and Rose eventually become friends. The girl Rose was fighting with turns up dead, and when Emma shows Pete where she found the body, the body has disappeared. Meanwhile, John methodically runs down every possible lead within Karen’s former life to try to locate her in the present time with her new identity. It’s fascinating how he manipulates people, and you can easily see how his skills can be used for bad or good.
But what absolutely blew me away, and made the whole series worthwhile, was the E10 season finale. In no way did I ever see that coming! Honestly, I don’t know how the writers could top that shocker in a second season, but we’ll see. So far, no word on whether S2 will be happening.
Side note: some may find the storyline involving Bodie particularly relevant due to the current SCOTUS leak regarding Roe v Wade.
Paula Light is a poet, novelist, flash fiction fan, cupcake connoisseur, mom, grandma, cat mommy, etc. Her blog can be found at http://paulalight.com.