Friday, January 28, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Afterparty' - Brett's Insistence on Controlling Others Only Reveals Just How Manic He Has Become in 'Brett'

AppleTV+'s The Afterparty - Episode 1.02 "Brett"

In Brett's action-packed retelling of the night, he had one goal in attending the reunion: reconcile with his ex-wife to get their family back together.

"Brett" was written by Anthony King and directed by Christopher Miller

Everyone at the afterparty has their own selfish motives. It's hard for any of them to see beyond themselves and have empathy for how another is navigating the world. The concept of being involved in a murder mystery and being interviewed one by one offers them the potential to step outside of themselves and reflect on something more important. But it's also just fun to see how vastly different the narratives become when applying the contrivances of each person's perspective. Aniq was terrified of Brett throughout the entire night. He thought he was being threatened. Brett doesn't confirm those assertions. He didn't think about Aniq in that way at all. He never perceived him as someone vying for Zoe's attention. To Aniq, that's all that he was doing throughout the evening. That's all that he cares about. Well, that's true until the murder happens. Then, he becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth before Danner ultimately puts all the blame on him. He sees that as a distinct possibility. He has a clue that she doesn't as well. He believes that puts him one step ahead of her. And yet, he also relies on the interviews she is conducting. It's convenient that Yasper knows exactly how to rig the system so that he and Aniq can listen in from the bathroom. But it also produces an eye-opening moment for Aniq. He misunderstood Brett's behavior and actions. Of course, someone can still be threatening and intimidating without believing that themselves. That's how delusional they can be. That can't be rationalized or made to seem healthy. It basically may assert that the show itself has a certain level of contempt for these characters. Even as the heroes of their own stories, they don't always paint themselves in the best light. What they perceive as cool may actually be all Danner needs to look at them as a viable suspect. Aniq walked into that trapped when he talked with her. Brett does to a certain extent as well. However, Danner has empathy for him because he truly is trying to be a good dad. His daughter is sleeping in the car outside Xavier's house. Sure, he placed her in danger when driving like a maniac in order to track down Aniq and retrieve her panda. Danner was critical of that. Brett has a reasonable explanation for how his daughter was never in any true danger. He can believe that. The audience has a different perspective. It's one where the action thriller he is staring in clashes with the responsibilities of parenthood. His controlling and domineering behavior actually pushes others away. He may be cool with some people at the reunion. He just wants to prevent Zoe from having fun. He wants her back and believes he can force that into happening. He's selfish and incapable of seeing the error of his ways. He is eventually called out for that behavior and comes to a realization that he needs to let Zoe have control over her own life and agency. Of course, he still cuts her off instead of listening to how she feels about this whole situation. Hope exists for Aniq and Zoe to potentially be the happy couple that was previously suggested. But the narrative continually highlighting the flaws of these characters may only serve as further proof that they can be unreliable in their telling of events. Even Danner is forcing her partner to cover for her and help her solve the case because she believes the ringer would mess everything up. She is inflating her own skills in this situation. She may only be led where others are taking her. Aniq was pointed out as a suspect. Then, Brett did something suspicious. Brett suggests Chelsea was the one with a true vendetta against Xavier. As such, it's easy to see where the pieces will go next. Hopefully, that too inspires some reevaluation by the characters who survived and will be changed by this night. That empathy only seems possible for Aniq because of his invasion through the use of technology. That's not necessary for these realizations to occur. Even then, they can prop up allusions of grandeur when the most prominent clue is being overlooked - which the action points out with a camera in Xavier's bedroom. That proves that the storytelling has control over this narrative and not the individual characters. That's a fascinating turn of events which typically doesn't produce strong results. It works here because of the command over doing something different and flashy with each episode. Those flourishes help everything sync up and force the audience to pay attention to every detail that may change along the way.