Friday, January 28, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Afterparty' - Aniq's High Hopes for His High School Reunion Take a Drastic Turn After a Murder in 'Aniq'

AppleTV+'s The Afterparty - Episode 1.01 "Aniq"

Following a shocking death at a high school reunion's afterparty, Detective Danner grills Aniq, who recounts the night like a rom-com.

"Aniq" was directed by Christopher Miller with teleplay by Christopher Miller & Kassia Miller and story by Christopher Miller

Pop star/actor Xavier is found dead during the afterparty to his high school reunion. The killer is likely one of the people at the event. Detective Danner arrives with a mission to solve the case before morning. That includes locking everyone down and hearing their individual stories about what happened during the night. She explains it's beneficial to get this personal retelling because everyone prioritizes themselves and sees the same events differently. That's the playfulness of the show's overall tone. It seeks to tell the same story in vastly different ways. Each character embraces a different genre. It's creepy to watch Indigo detail the events as if they came from a black-and-white classic thriller. She brings that intensity to everything. It troubles Danner even in the brief glimpse it is revealed to her. It's necessary for the show to set these ground rules in its premiere. It has to play certain segments straight though. That requires Danner to be the lead walking around this home observing the details of these people and what led up to Xavier's death. She can't control everything. Plus, she is a host of complications as well. She couldn't escape the Christmas-themed escape room that Aniq designed. People are worried she isn't paying attention to the key details of the crime. She cares more about the personal lives of the people she's investigating. But she can actually manage all of that. She is incredibly perceptive. She is aware of what people are telling her just through their body language. The mystery isn't solved yet. She is just getting started. She has a prime suspect in Aniq. He basically confesses to everything except the murder. She doesn't cut off the rest of the interviews and arrest him though. Aniq certainly feels the pressure. He believes he has the capacity to solve this mystery as he designs them for a living. That may not translate as well as he hopes. But he's also a star-crossed lover hoping this was the night he could finally get together with Zoe. The moments they had together were special and intimate. However, he was always being pulled away by Xavier and Brett, who also have an interest in Zoe. It's a competition. One that can absolutely spell out motivation for the lethal action at the center of the story. Aniq is one part of that. He sees his romance with Zoe falling in line with all the famous rom-com moments in films. That's how he imagines this night. Not everything goes according to plan for him. He still gives off an anxious energy. He continually drinks in order to build up courage. That has an impact on his actions as well. He never ultimately gets the courage to act on everything he wants to with Zoe. She is somewhat passive in this telling of the story. That will more than like be recontextualized in the future when things are told from her perspective. Aniq views himself as a nice guy. He doesn't know everything about Zoe's current life. He is terrified of her ex-husband. That creates jarring clashes the closer his story gets to Xavier's death. Aniq can't explain everything that happened. It's a damning narrative though. He and Yasper find a potential clue in the bathroom trash. They withhold it from the detective. That sets off the story to be a clash between the two people who believe they can solve this case. It should be fascinating to see how the two timelines balance in each episode. This premiere has to spend time in the present as Danner starts her investigation because the story also needs to tease each of these characters for the audience. As such, it's already told that Chelsea and Brett know each other's secrets and promise to keep them. That could make them guilty. It could be completely innocuous. Plenty of red herrings are probably present. However, the show itself has a strong command of its tone. It may not be able to nail each change in genre. The ambition is notable and should be lauded. Plus, it basically suggests that all the clues are already present to solve this mystery. It just takes talking to the right people and understanding their actions to get to the truth. That's a compelling impulse as well. It highlights how investigating can be complicated because perspectives shift wildly along the way. That will likely be playful in some ways and incredibly tragic in others. As such, expectations are high and hopefully the show can deliver in the end.