Amy Adams + HBO. Need I say more?
Synopsis: Camille Preaker, a reporter for the St. Louis Chronicle, is sent to her rural hometown of Wind Gap by her editor, Curry, to file a story about two missing girls, one of whom was found dead and presumed murdered. The assignment, which reunites Camille with her overbearing mother, Adora, stepfather, Alan Crellin, and half-sister, Amma, brings back traumatic childhood memories, including the death of Camille’s younger sister, Marian, when both were schoolgirls. Tormented by her past and seeking refuge through alcohol, Camille joins Detective Richard Willis and Chief of Police Vickery in following leads around town that might shed light on the fate of the most recent missing girl. (HBO)
Writer: Marti Noxon
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Running Time: 62mins
Airs: Sundays at 9pm on HBO Canada (Canada)/HBO (United States)
This premiere did a great job at planting promising seeds as the mystery at the center of the story began to unravel. The big concern here is that there a lot of seeds here that may not amount to anything but considering all those involved, it is definitely worth the time. This episode may be on the slow side for some which is almost unavoidable as it starts to set up the characters and the setting, all connected by a reporter named Camille Preaker (Amy Adams).
The story is about Preaker, a reporter in St. Louis who is assigned to her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri to write a story about two missing girls, Natalie King and Ann Nash, where one had been found dead. Preaker has her demons and over the course of the episode, it is easy to see why as most of her problems could be attributed to her hometown. As we learn about her childhood in Wind Gap, you can’t help but get an unsettling feeling, beit the score or the cinematography. This episode focused on the relationship between Preaker and her younger sister, who we later learned died at a young age. There were definitely some parallels between both cases.
Once Preaker arrived in Wind Gap, she got the lay of the land and began to speak to a few characters while getting valuable information about the case, including an alcoholic housewife named Jackie (Elizabeth Perkins), the father of one of Ann, who was still missing, Bob Nash (Will Chase), and a seemingly good guy detective from out of town named Richard (Chris Messina). This episode only scratched the surface with these characters so it will be interesting to see how this series handles all these potential suspects and any new ones. In doing so, Preaker was quickly reminded of how small her hometown was as news of her arrival spread fast. Just like in Big Little Lies, director Jean-Marc Vallée makes Wind Gap into another character in the story in a similar way to Monterey, California.
The best part of the episode was the relationship between Preaker and her mother Adora (Patricia Clarkson). The two were perhaps not on the best of terms after Adora remarried a patient man named Alan (Henry Czerny). Another reason could simply be the fact that Adora was an overbearing mother to say the least though Clarkson was definitely up to the challenge. The two had their own dynamic where Adora could always seemed to put her daughter in her place. It is easy to see where each are coming from thus making these scenes relatable to watch for anyone who has been in a similar position. A weird part of this dynamic comes from Preaker’s younger half-sister, Amma (Eliza Scanlen), who may or may not be her younger sister’s replacement.
There was still one development in the case as Ann was found dead, sitting in a window sill in an alley as if waiting for someone to find her. This hit Preaker hard as she was one of the first to discover the body.
Overall, this was a good start to the series, offering an intriguing small town murder mystery as well as a compelling family story, both anchored by the always reliable Amy Adams. While this episode may be slow for some and didn’t provide too many answers right away, it offers just enough to keep us wanting more. Think of it as a Big Little Lies/True Detective (season 1 not season 2) hybrid which isn’t necessarily a bad thing anyway.