This recap of the Apple TV+ series Black Bird season 1, episode 1 contains spoilers.
Read the Black Bird Season 1 review.
Apple TV+ has kicked things into high gear this year, delivering some really great standalone TV dramas, featuring some of Hollywood’s best actors, no less. Black bird is the latest miniseries to join this ever-growing library of top-notch content. Dennis Lehane’s crime dramashutter island) stars Taron Egerton as a convicted drug dealer who is offered an enticing, if problematic, outcome to his conviction. The episode “Pilot” sets up this narrative hook perfectly in an engrossing hour of television.
Black bird summary of season 1, episode 1
Jimmy Keene (Egerton) narrates in the opening scenes, introducing viewers to 90s America and its rock and roll lifestyle. The former star athlete is now a wealthy drug dealer, living in a fancy mansion, driving a sports car and sleeping with whoever he wants. Jimmy rides high until one of his own employees tries to steal his belongings and then the FBI knocks on the door. They raid his home, seizing drugs, cash and the equivalent of a battalion of weapons.
The charming drug trafficker finds himself in prison, facing a long sentence. Jimmy’s father, played by the late great Ray Liotta, in one of his last performances, comes to give him the truth. He will likely remain for five years, but will be eliminated in four for good behavior. His father tells him to take the deal, so Jimmy pleads guilty. The judge states that if it went to trial, he would look twenty-five years from now, but they will give him ten instead. It looks like Jimmy was tricked, losing a decade of his life in the process.
We catch up with Jimmy seven months later. He adapts well to prison life, making a small profit as an ap**n dealer. It’s clearly not the most ideal situation and his only ray of hope comes in the form of a deal that could see Jimmy get out of jail in record time. FBI agent Lauren McCauley (Sepideh Moafi) offers him an early release if he’s willing to be transferred to a maximum security prison for the criminally insane, befriend a murderer, and get the guy to confess. They need the location of at least one dead girl, maybe up to thirteen. It’s a great premise that’s brimming with potential.
Jimmy turns down the offer and goes back to his dreary existence, handing out p**n magazines to weird inmates and working out whenever he can. His father tells him to reject the deal, warning Jimmy of the hell that awaits him in Springfield, Missouri. Jimmy thinks about the offer a bit more and begins to read the file of the criminal he is allegedly coercing. This brings us gently into the investigation.
The series returns four years earlier and detective Brian Miller (Greg Kinnear) is hot on the case, in 1993. This family man investigates the murder of a young girl called Jessica Roach, who was found dead in the Indiana farmer’s field. . Following a promising lead, Brian thinks a man named Larry Hall (Paul Walter Hauser) might be their prime suspect. Described as a harmless crackpot, this creep is known to local law enforcement for harassing young girls as he drove around the neighborhood in his gray van.
Brian manages to arrange an interview with the suspect and impetuously interrogates the man. All the cops keep telling Brian that Larry is a serial confessor, who loves to talk, but the detective thinks otherwise. The van matches a witness statement, Larry admitted to being in the area the day before the girl disappeared, and the creep has a history of criminal activity. Larry concedes as much and then explains how he has vivid dreams of murdering women – nothing incriminating there then.
This is an expertly-crafted opening episode, with stunning performances and a well-honed tone. A great premise married to top notch cinematography – this is sure to make for a memorable series.
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You can watch this series with an Apple TV+ subscription.
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