When rag doll premiering on AMC+ in November, it was most notable for one of its stars. How Lucy Hale, best known for Pretty little Liars, do in a gritty British murder mystery drama? It seemed like she was doing just fine, even though her character seems like a stew of diversity (American, gay, vegan, young, tattooed). But the show is so much more than Hale. As the series makes its linear debut, read on to find out if it’s worth watching.
RAGDOLL: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Opening shot: As DS Nathan Rose (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) walks into a courtroom, he recalls the murder, where a man sitting in a chair was set on fire and burned to death.
The essential: The man accused of these murders, Nick Hooper (James Tarpey), is released by the judge on a technicality, sending Rose into a rage that drives him to rush at Hooper and beat him senseless.
Two years later, Rose is awakened by a call concerning a reconstructed corpse found in an apartment which is precisely in the building opposite hers. He meets his partner and close friend DI Emily Baxter (Thalissa Teixeira) and the third member of their DC team, Lake Edmunds (Lucy Hale), a newly created detective who joined the Metropolitan Police after moving to London from the United States. .
As they inspect the hanging corpse, they see that it is the product of six different corpses stitched together. But the head comes from a particular corpse: Nick Hooper. Upon closer inspection, Rose sees that the body is set to point at the window… and it appears to be pointing directly at Rose’s apartment window.
Rose is back in an emotionally decent place, but her time in a mental hospital after losing it to Hooper always comes back during hypnotherapy, specifically another patient named Joe Shepton (Kobna Holdbrook-Smith). But seeing Hooper’s face brings back bad memories. Baxter and Edmunds go to the prison where Hooper was and find that he died mysteriously the previous week. A trip to the morgue shows that someone removed his head without anyone knowing.
Baxter tries to reassure Rose that the killer who assembled the “Ragdoll” (named by the guy who fixed the overhead projector) that the killer wasn’t aiming at him. But that notion goes by the wayside when a note is mysteriously left on Rose’s desk; his name is on a “kill list”, along with Baxter and London Mayor Ray Turnbull (Phil Davis).
As Rose’s boss, DCI Terrance Simmons (Ali Cook) assigns Rose to watch the grumbling Mayor Turnbull at the train station while the sender of the letter is tracked down, Baxter and Edmunds try to find the source of a tattoo found on one of the body parts. In between all of this, Baxter continues to receive bouquets of flowers, along with a photo of a boy whose murder still haunts her. When Baxter visits the boy’s family, they tell her they never sent the flowers, which is when she and Edmunds realize the flowers are in his office for a much different reason.
What shows will this remind you of? rag doll has the same ironic rhythm as Kill Evewhich makes sense since creator Freddy Syborn, adapting Daniel Cole’s novel, also worked on this show.
Our opinion : rag doll, which comes to AMC after debuting on AMC+ in November, strives to give its audience a twisty mystery full of rivalries, PTSD and more in-jokes than the average detective series. But what all the gimmicks do is just blur what could be a potentially interesting mystery for Rose, Baxter, and Edmunds to solve.
We think that Syborn and his writers try to set things up in the first episode that gives us a clue into the minds of the three main cops, but it’s hard to separate the banter from the character. We know that Edmunds is from New Jersey, decided to pursue a relationship, is a vegan, and is a bit prickly. Baxter doesn’t like hugs and she’s reluctant to visit her family, even on her late father’s birthday.
Baxter and Rose’s relationship digs deeper into these two characters, but we still don’t know where Hale’s character, Edmunds, fits into all of this, other than just being an American who only knows The simpsons by his memes.
There’s plenty of exposition-spinning dialogue throughout, especially when it comes to Rose’s investigation of Nick Hooper. Apparently, Simmons filed a lawsuit against Rose during this investigation, and we’re not 100% sure how involved Rose got into this case; it was certainly enough to give him PTSD and send him to the hospital, but we don’t know why.
After the mayor spontaneously burns, bringing back all the memories of the Hooper case, we see Rose talking to her therapist about Joe and a killer named The Faust, but it’s unclear where this connects to the Ragdoll case. .
As funny as some of the jokes on the first episode were, we just wish the time filled with jokes had been used to make the story a little easier to follow.
Sex and skin: None in the first episode.
Farewell shot: We see Rose calling out The Faust, but it’s Rose in the hospital, not the sane version. Again, we’re not sure if this is related to the Ragdoll. This could be why Rose was on the victim list.
Sleeping Star: We’re enjoying seeing Hale play against type and hope his character gets more than just character ticks in the future.
The most pilot line: Then again, that line Hale uttered, referring to tabloid coverage of the Hooper case, might have been, uh, a little polished: “It was like watching a pack of homeless people trying to fuck the same dog in a dumpster.”
Our call: SPREAD IT. We hope that the confusing first episode of rag doll does not indicate where the series is going. The Ragdoll Killer presents an interesting case, but there’s so much in the mix that we have a feeling the mystery will suffer under a pile of jokes and artifice.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and technology, but he’s not fooling himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.comFast Company and elsewhere.