Friday, February 4, 2022

REVIEW: 'Suspicion' - Several British Citizens Are Monitored in Connection to a Kidnapping in New York in 'Persons of Interest'

AppleTV+'s Suspicion - Episode 1.01 "Persons of Interest"

An international manhunt ignites when the son of U.S. media mogul Katherine Newman is violently kidnapped.

"Persons of Interest" was written by Rob Williams and directed by Chris Long

A viral video depicts a kidnapping. People question if it is real or not. The public mostly sees it as inspiration for the next trend. It's treated so casually. That can be biting commentary on how desensitized the world has become to gruesome aspects of our lives. Seeing it play out on a screen removes a layer of humanity to it. And so, people laugh and are amused instead of rightfully fearing for the safety of the young adult in question. However, the show itself treats its overall premise with a casual speed. That needs to change. Some urgency needs to be apparent in this narrative. This premiere is all about bringing a select group of characters together. But it feels the importance of depicting them in their normal lives for an episode before completely disrupting their realities. It's still treated as some shocking twist. That's odd. Early on, it's stated that the American government is monitoring several British nationals as people with suspicious connections to the hotel in question. The action then depicts those individuals being monitored. It wants the audience to see them from afar even when they are living their normal lives. They were all recently in New York City for a night. That brought them to this particular hotel. They went back home. Only one is acting suspiciously on a plane. He manages to escape detection as well. He is clearly planning for something. The others have already settled into normalcy once more. They operate on different schedules. And yet, everyone is suppose to fear that they are responsible for this kidnapping. Any kind of motivation is murky at best though. It is established that the target is the son of an influential American media mogul. She has plenty of enemies who could reasonably target her. But again, the focus is on the people being monitored from the hotel. It's not in tracking down any of the personal threats against Katherine and seeing if any of them would commit this violence against Leo. In fact, no further details are given as to what happened to him. No ransom emerges. No leads are produced. It's just seen as a viral video. The abductors clearly wanted that released. They put on a show for the cameras. They are well-coordinated. This is what they wanted to happen. The audience has to infer that. Other than that, it's a big mystery. The narrative hopes to challenge perceptions by suggesting Aadesh, Natalie and Tara had something to do with Leo's kidnapping. They probably do to a certain extent as well. Otherwise, it would be a let down as the central premise of the series. Agent Scott Anderson is brought in because he is the best at dealing with kidnappings and ransoms. However, he spends the premiere receiving exposition from his colleagues and being on a plane to London. He's not the one propelling the story forward. That burden falls onto the innocent-seeming people who are soon placed under arrest. They are battling expectations placed on them by their families. They carry secrets. Nothing seems out of the ordinary. That's the point. It's suppose to make all of this even more chilling. It's serious enough that Natalie has to be arrested before she can finish walking down the aisle at her wedding. It's insane and melodramatic. But it's not quite tense and propulsive enough for the audience to feel invested. In this type of story, each episode needs to add something new and produce big reveals. That just doesn't happen here. It never quite gets out of first gear. It's stuck loading when the story should be demanding big swings and action. It's not even that fun seeing Sean change his appearance in the airplane bathroom to avoid detection. The pieces do add up to suggest each of these people have the skills to pull off this kidnapping. No connections appear to exist between them. The story lines them up and puts them in the same position. They will likely respond differently because they have unique circumstances. But that distinct storytelling edge is mostly missing here with no performance that immediately stands out to center the unique way this mystery is set to be unraveled. It's written as if the creative team believes this is the type of show the medium requires. It's just done with no understanding of the genre or the willingness to add a compulsive twist that sucks the viewer in with excitement. Instead, it's just a formula being followed with no personality.